Graded contests are the main draw, on Saturday, with some decent action to look forward to at Cheltenham and Doncaster. Seymour Biz provides his weekly Lucky 15 tips and includes a well-rested young gun who will feature in the Cotswold Chase. Find all previous UK racing previews in his weekly column: Saturday Horse Racing Tips.
Two really classy meetings to look forward to this weekend at Cheltenham and Doncaster with the the former holding what it calls a Trials Meeting. Unfortunately that means there is only one handicap being televised from there along with three Graded races. As to the Town Moor card, that reads something similar with a couple of classy hurdles and just one handicap chase. All this means that although there is some top class racing on offer, it is very difficult to find any value outside of the two big handicaps being televised. That said, here are my thoughts for those races along with a couple of horses who have a chance to upset the fancied mounts in the graded races, so here we go with this week’s Lucky 15.
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Starting with the Trials Meeting at Cheltenham and the 1.50 the Paddy Power 45 Sleeps To Cheltenham Handicap Chase. David Pipe’s Warthog is the probable favourite here on the back of his win here at Cheltenham in mid-December when he had several of the contenders he reopposes here behind him that day. But he has 5lb extra for that win and that could be enough to peg him back. The second horse that day was Spiritofthegames from Dan Skelton’s yard who led after the last but did not have enough in the tank to last up the hill. Cepage was two and a half lengths behind him in fourth with Clondaw Castle 60 lengths back in the race. Lalor has had a couple of runs this season for trainer Kayley Woollacott but has failed to last home on both occasions. The same can be said of Highway One O One, Chris Gordon’s charge has failed to win since November 2018 and has never won over further than 2m1f. Paul Nicholls has an interesting young gelding at the bottom of the handicap in My Way. His latest run at Ascot showed promise and he may well take a place here. But I take Spiritofthegames to gain revenge over Warthog here on better ground than he has faced all season.
The Paddy Power Cotswold Chase is at 2.25 and this prestigious contest has attracted some top class three miles plus chasers. Heading the list is Bristol De Mai from the Nigel Twiston-Davies stable. This top class grey has won over £680k in his career and only went down by a length and a half last time at Haydock to Lostintranslation. He has had ten career wins but has never won at Cheltenham and he may not break his duck in this race. Nicky Henderson has high hopes for Santini and he is among the favourites for the Gold Cup after his fine second in the RSA at last year’s festival. He won by just a head in his latest run at Sandown in November and is lightly raced. But there are a couple of other new kids on the block I like the look of, the first is Slate House trained by Colin Tizzard who fell here in November but has won twice since as a novice. The other is Emma Lavelle’s De Rasher Counter who has not been seen out since the end of November when he won at Newbury beating a top class field of 23 rivals. He took up the lead four out and stayed on strongly to take the contest and he is my choice here to outstay his older and more experienced rivals.
At 3.00 we have the Ballymore Novices Hurdle over two and a half miles. There is a hot favourite here from Phillip Hobbs’s yard, Sporting John, who has been carrying all before him at Exeter racecourse. It is to be seen if he can continue this form here at Cheltenham. Protektorat trained by Dan Skelton has come good this season, after a couple of runner-up spots he finally got his head in front here at Cheltenham on New Years Day but was disqualified and placed second, he was reinstated following an appeal. Harry Senior won at Chepstow’s Christmas meeting for trainer Colin Tizzard after finishing second twice and it seems he goes well on soft going. But the one I like here is Harry Fry’s King Rowland, who in his latest outing in January at Exeter blew his rivals away to win by 19 lengths. That was only his second outing over obstacles and he looks to be among the best of the recruits to novice hurdles this season.
Moving north to Doncaster we have the Sky Bet Handicap Chase at 3.15. This 3 mile contest has Ok Corral among the top weights but Nicky Henderson’s gelding has had a poor start to the season,going down at Newbury and Cheltenham. He would need to regain last year’s form to go close here. Alan King has a strong hand with Azzerti and Dingo Dollar. King says “Dingo Dollar has been waiting for this since he finished fifth at Newbury in November. He is in good form and won at Doncaster as a novice”. As to Azzerti he looks like he is suited by the step up in trip after running fifth at Ascot last time. Chidswell won at Doncaster last March but Nicky Richards 11-year-old ran poorly after that being pulled up on two occasions, however he seemed to get his act together last time when running second at Kelso. Burbank has shot up in the weights due to his victory at Newbury at the end of December but Nicky Henderson is upping him in class here for this Listed race. He may well be placed but I go with Dingo Dollar to take the spoils.
Saturday Lucky 15
1.50 Cheltenham. Spiritofthegames
2.25 Cheltenham. De Rasher Counter
3.00 Cheltenham. King Rowland
3.15 Doncaster. Dingo Dollar