The pick of Saturday’s racing action comes from Ascot and Haydock. Both courses host races which are well worth winning in their own right and will also provide important clues ahead of the Cheltenham Festival and the Grand National.
Clues for bigger races are always welcomed but there is more than enough to get excited about by Saturday’s action as you can tell in our Saturday racing Tips below.
The card at Ascot could give racing fans a fair amount to go on ahead of the Cheltenham Festival. Of greatest interest will be the performance of Cyrname with a big win surely enough to entice connections to give him a chance in the Champion Chase.
Each of the four live races provide their own excitement though so let’s see if we can find some winners.
1:50pm Sodexo Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase
The RSA Chase is firmly on the mind of those connected to horses at the top of the betting for the Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase. Pym, Copperhead and Sam Brown – the three favourites in descending order for Saturday’s Grade 2 – all feature in the RSA Chase ante post markets.
Only two of the last 12 winners of the Reynoldstown went on to win the RSA Chase and it does look a big task for the three horses mentioned. They may even find that they fall short of expectations on Saturday with Two For Gold in the field. The seven year old heads into the race on the back of a win on soft ground and over the same three mile trip. He jumps well for a novice and stays on strongly so Two For Gold looks a good price at 6/1 with BetVictor.
2:25pm Keltbray Swinley Chase
The Listed Keltbray Swinley Chase has quickly established itself as a competitive race with an exciting betting heat. Although there has never been a winner with a starting price in excess of 9/1, this is far from an easy race to predict with only two favourites getting past the post first.
Paul Nicholls’ Black Corton sets the standard for this year’s renewal but might just be found out having to carry top weight. The horse who really stands out at 10/1 with bet365 is Red Indian. After travelling well for the majority of his first run of the season a lack of fitness cost Kelly Morgan’s eight year old last time out. That run should help his chances considerably at Ascot where he can win on his course debut.
3:00pm Give The Gift Of Ascot Annual Membership Handicap Hurdle
There’s another handicap up next at Ascot. This is run over the considerably shorter distance of 2m3½f and takes place over hurdles. Winning favourites are rare once again with the last 10 years throwing up winners at odds of 14/1, 25/1 and 33/1.
This is a race in which punters tend to have no problem supporting a longer odds option and that looks to be the way to attack it this time around. Jolly’s Cracked It could be the one to lend that each way support to at 12/1 with bet365. Harry Fry’s 11 year old made his first appearance following wind surgery last month. That procedure seemed to have helped as he ran stronger than ever over 2m3½f. If he comes on for that run, Jolly’s Cracked It will be a serious contender at a track where he has run well in the past.
3:35pm Betfair Ascot Chase
The Betfair Ascot Chase is the best race on the card by some distance. The question about this year’s renewal of this important Grade 1 contest is whether or not Cyrname is the best horse in the field by some distance.
Given that Paul Nicholls’ eight year old is only facing three opponents at Ascot, you’d think that question is easy to answer. However, the disappointing nature of his run in the King George on Boxing Day leaves many with their doubts about his abilities. On the other hand, Cyrname has many supporters for a possible tilt at the Champion Chase where he might take on Altior once again. His Cheltenham assignment is unclear but what is clear is that anything other than a win for the 2/5 favourite with bet365 would be a major surprise.
Haydock is a stamina sapping course at the best of times. Given the amount of rain that has fallen in the week and the arrival of Storm Dennis it is going to be especially tricky for the horses competing on Saturday’s card.
Many of those in the fields for the two feature races of the day – the Rendlesham Hurdle and the Grand National Trial – will relish testing conditions so the rain should help make this an even better day’s racing.
2:05pm Unibet Rendlesham Hurdle
The first race on the ITV Racing coverage from Haydock comes in the shape of this exciting Grade 2, long distance hurdle. The Rendlesham Hurdle usually attracts a strong field and we have a very exciting mixture of younger, up and coming long distance hurdlers and some very well established, hardy performers.
Unowhatimeanharry is very much in the latter category. Harry Fry’s 12 year old is very much in the later stages of his career but he’s put in some very good runs this season. That includes finishing second to Apple’s Jade in a Grade 1 on soft ground at Leopardstown. He does carry a penalty but has bags of stamina and the tougher conditions get, the better his chances will get so an each way bet is in order at 8/1 with Ladbrokes.
3:15pm Unibet Grand National Trial Handicap Chase
The Unibet Grand National Trial Handicap Chase is one of many trial runs for the biggest handicap chase of them all at Aintree. This week’s announcement of the weights for the Grand National have raised the levels of anticipation for that race and several horses in the field for this Grade 3 handicap will be amongst the 40 runners come April.
One For Arthur doesn’t yet have a place in the field for the Grand National but connections are hopeful that the 2017 winner will find a way into the picture. If he does, his chances must be respected off what looks a fairly lenient mark even if this is shaping to be an incredibly high class Grand National. One For Arthur’s performances at home and on the track have pleased Lucinda Russell and there is no reason why he cannot contend on Saturday so back him each way at 10/1 with bet365.