The general election is finally over but the National Hunt campaign continues apace, with Cheltenham and Doncaster offering the best action on Saturday. Seymour Biz’s vote goes to an Alan King inmate, in the Mares Handicap Hurdle. Here are his Lucky 15 selections. Find all previous UK racing previews in his weekly column: Saturday Horse Racing Tips.
A reasonably quiet weekend with not that many of the top class horses coming out of their stables in this chilly weather even though we have a Cheltenham meeting on offer. The two day pre-Christmas offering features a Cross Country on Friday but I like the look of Diablo de Rouhet in the Novice Chase earlier on the card, the later races are all covered on ITV4. As to Saturday, television are covering the two main meetings at Cheltenham and Doncaster and the former features the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup and three further races. At Doncaster they are showing the last three races on the card one of which looks a hot juvenile hurdle which should provide some pointers for the rest of the season. So looking for value across these two meetings here are my thoughts for this Saturday’s Lucky 15.
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Starting at Doncaster with the bet365 Summit Juvenile Hurdle at 2.45 which is for 3-year-olds and there is a lot of promise among these young horses as they move onward in their careers. Langer Dan trained by Dan Skelton won well at Wetherby in early November but has a 5lb penalty for that victory. Goobinator is another Wetherby winner from last month for trainer Donald McCain, he was following up a win on the all-weather at Southwell earlier that month. Sacchoandvanzetti is an Irish raider trained by John Queally who has already won twice in his home country at Galway and Punchestown and he should be respected. Alan King’s Lord Lamington won at Market Rasen earlier this month but the trainer is playing down his chance here saying he would like another month with him. The one I like the look of is a filly claiming her 7lb allowance, Tombee Du Ciel, trained by Nicky Henderson. This French import is having her first run for Nicky Henderson and her French form looks quite fair given all her runs were on very soft or heavy and in top class races and she gets my vote.
At 3.20 is the bet365 Handicap Chase over 3 miles. Dandy Dan from Kim Bailey’s yard has top weight here and is having his first run since finishing second at Kelso in October. He was a short priced favourite that day but was well beaten and seems to be highly weighted here. My Old Gold ran into some top class chasers at Carlisle last month and finished last of four, but Nicky Richards’s mare did win a Listed race at Perth last year and may well be in the mix. Treacle Tart was second to her at Perth and Charlie Longston’s mare won on her seasonal debut at Warwick in September but put in a poor performance at Fakenham next time out. Charlie Mann’s The Dubai Way won on his seasonal reappearance at Wetherby in November where he beat a good field and has a chance. Jonjo O’Neill is getting his stable back on track and he has Cloth Cap here for his third run of the season. He was a dual winner last year but his latest run at Ascot when he ran third showed promise and he could well get back to winning ways here.
The first race on television from Cheltenham is at 1.55 the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup Handicap Chase over a little bit more than 2m 4f. Top weight here is Venetia Williams’s Cepage who is having his second run of this campaign after being beaten at Aintree last month. His conquerer that day was Riders Onthe Storm who reopposes here, at the weights I expect the placings to be reversed. Casablanca Mix from Nicky Henderson’s stable is declared after her excellent victory last week but she looks high enough in the weights for me. Secret Investor looks to have a better chance to me. The Paul Nicholls gelding ran second on his reappearance at the beginning of November at Down Royal but he is still a class act. The 2017 winner, Guitar Pete returns for another crack and he won at Wetherby in November so Nicky Richards’s grey is in form but may have to settle for a place here. My idea of the winner is another Paul Nicholls hope, Brelan d’As who unluckily unseated his rider here in October but since then has run an excellent second in the BetVictor Gold Cup when beaten only a neck. He can gain recompense in this contest.
The olbg.com Mares Handicap Hurdle is the final race on the card and is probably the best betting race of the day. Dame De Compagnie trained by Nicky Henderson is the bookmakers choice but she has run only once since April 2018. That was a fifth place her at Cheltenham last month, there would need to be an improvement on that outing. Queens Cave won last time out at Exeter when odds-on favourite but she had been beaten twice previously when odds-on on both occasions, once when 1/14! Alan King’s The Cull Bank had a fine season last year winning three times and the trainer fancies her chances here prior to her going chasing next year. Kissesforkatie has been busy this season with four outings, she finally got off the mark at Wincanton last time at the beginning of this month and may well run into a place at a nice price. But in this tricky contest I go with Alan King’s mare to continue her winning ways.
Saturday Lucky 15
2.45 Doncaster. Tombee Du Ciel
3.20 Doncaster. Cloth Cap
1.55 Cheltenham. Brelan d’As
3.40 Cheltenham. The Cull Bank