The Cheltenham Festival provided another enthralling four days of racing and the betting markets have already been set up for the biggest races for next season’s meeting. Many punters love looking into the crystal ball to try and profit from the ante post betting opportunities but we have action to enjoy in the much shorter term.
The ITV Racing team will hot foot it from Cheltenham on Friday to Uttoxeter on Saturday where the Midlands Grand National is the big race of the day. There’s also a decent card at Kempton for punters and racing fans to get their teeth stuck into and we’ve had a look through the best of the action in our Saturday Racing Tips. Coronavirus seems to be leaving the racing alone for now and so we suggest you make the most of this top action whilst you can!
The Midlands Grand National is second only to the Grand National at Aintree as the longest race of the National Hunt season.
It goes without saying that it takes a huge amount of stamina for any horse to land this prize but it’s not the only race in which some hardy types will compete on heavy ground at the Staffordshire course. Here are our thoughts and tips for the televised races …
1:50pm Marston’s Brewery Lady Riders’ Handicap Hurdle
The Uttoxeter card begins with an intriguing handicap hurdle taking place over a trip just shy of 3m. The horses in the field are limited to a maximum official rating of 125 and only eight horses are in attendance but, fortunately, those eight should combine for a competitive renewal.
Mr Caffrey is the horse getting most of the support in the betting and for good reasons. As top weight, he hasn’t been missed by the handicapper, but that billing is totally justified given his excellent record over hurdles. A reversion to the smaller obstacles after failing to fire over fences is a smart move and should result in a win on Saturday at 4/1 with bet365.
2:25pm 1834 Novices’ Handicap Chase
The horses in the field for the 1834 Novices’ Handicap Chase may not quite have the stamina to get the trip for the Midlands Grand National but this is a very long way from a quick jog around the course. The 3m, Class 2 chase will take a lot of winning and the connections represented in the race have only sent tough horses to Uttoxeter.
Lucinda Russell knows all about training hardy horses for big handicaps having saddled One For Arthur to Grand National glory in 2017. She has Looks Like Murt for this contest who appears a very good price at 7/1 with bet365. The seven-year-old was much improved with his jumping last time out at Kelso and will relish a real staying test.
3:00pm Burton Union Handicap Hurdle
Like the first race on the card, the 3:00pm is a competitive looking handicap over hurdles. It’s run at the shorter distance of 2m4f but, as ever, punters need to keep the heavy ground right at the forefront of their mind with support in the betting reserved for those who have shown a fair amount of stamina previously.
Any Drama is one of those who has proved that he can get it done on heavy ground at Uttoxeter and looks a decent price at 8/1 with Coral. The problem that Harry Fry’s nine-year-old has is that he will be forced to carry second top weight and one who is better treated by the handicapper is Theo’s Charm. He too has run well at Uttoxeter recently (he actually finished second to Any Drama) and is a good each way price at the longer odds of 14/1 with Ladbrokes.
3:35pm Martston’s 61 Deep Midlands Grand National
This year’s renewal of the Midlands Grand National is shaping up to be a cracking edition. The heavy ground at Uttoxeter will make the contest as tough a test of stamina as ever but it is very interesting to note that progressive, younger horses have a good record in this race over the last 15 to 20 years.
The market suggests that another quality younger horse has a good chance of winning with two eight-year-olds – Truckers Lodge and Christmas In April – vying for favouritism. However, it’s Oliver Sherwood’s seven-year-old, Dominateur, who appears the best value at 10/1 with bet365. The early signs of his life as a chaser suggests that he could contend in some of the biggest staying chases in years to come and he screams each way value for the big race at Uttoxeter.
It’s Paddy Power Silver Cups day at Kempton on Saturday. As the name suggests, the day is a chance for horses who were unable to get a race at the Cheltenham Festival to get some highly competitive racing under their belts so it makes a lot of sense to keep an eye on the form from Saturday.
2:05pm European Breeders Fund Paddy Power “National Hunt” EBF Novices’ Handicap Hurdle
The first ITV Racing contest of the day at Kempton is a high quality Grade 3 handicap hurdle. The race takes place over a trip of 2m5f and has a £70,000 prize fund on the line which has attracted a full field of 18 horses to Kempton for the race which has been rearranged after the recent abandonment at Sandown.
Hurricane Harvey is one of those in the field who has a better chance of winning this race now than when it was held at Sandown. He has run very well on right-handed tracks and will relish the ground which is currently good to soft. Hurricane Harvey has won two of his three starts over hurdles and is a very good price to extend that record at very nice odds of 10/1 with BetVictor.
2:40pm Paddy Power Silver Plate Handicap Hurdle
The Silver Plate Handicap Hurdle has been won by some quality runners from powerful yards since its introduction in 2014. The likes of Might Bite and Kildisart both built on this win to run very well in top quality races at the Cheltenham Festival in future years.
The quality of recent winners is one reason why those towards the top of the weights have a good record and we could be in for more of the same this year with The Butcher Said primed to run well from fourth in the weights. Olly Murphy’s seven-year-old was a disappointing beaten favourite last time out on his handicap debut. The tactics looked wrong that day and he should enjoy the return to a sounder surface so can bounce straight back with a win.
3:15pm Paddy Power Silver Bowl Handicap Chase
The Paddy Power Silver Bowl Handicap Chase is open to horses who failed to get a run in four chases at the Cheltenham Festival. The horses who failed to miss those four big contests are of considerable quality so this race is usually a very exciting contest to watch.
Legal Eyes, for trainer Ben Pauling, is one of those who has the class to make up for his missed run at Cheltenham at the first possible opportunity. The seven-year-old won on his last start over good to soft ground at Kempton in what was his first run since a wind operation. Hopes are high in the yard that the operation will lead to bigger and better things and so Legal Eyes looks well priced at very solid odds of 7/1.