Saturday Horse Racing Preview & Tips – 31st March – Horatio Hornblower To Call The Tune

Spring is in the air and Seymour Biz has pinpointed one of Nick Williams’ horses that should be coming into bud, on Saturday.

The flat takes over at Musselburgh this Easter weekend with a really good meeting that includes the Queens Cup Handicap among several other good races on a very competitive looking card. All the top northern trainers are heading to Scotland to try to get a piece of the action. Down the M6 at Haydock we have an excellent jumps meeting with the Challenger Series Finals with five races worth £50,000 each. Plenty of trainers aim their horses at this meeting and spring types always do well in these Class 2 contests. With that in mind, I have picked three for the television races at Haydock and one for the big handicap at Musselburgh to make up this weeks Lucky 15.

The first race on the Haydock card at 2.05 is the Smarkets Challenger Middle Distance Chase Series Final Handicap Chase, and the obvious favourite here is Crievehill who ran away with a handicap at Sandown last time out. He won by 20 lengths that day beating Aloomomo and Masterplan, however he will have to give lumps of weight away after that victory including twelve pounds to Masterplan who won last spring at Towcester. He made mistakes at Sandown at if he can put a better round in , along with the weight allowance and better going he can take this contest. Native Robin is worth a mention due to his two victories in the depths of winter, however he didn’t beat much. A worthier mention is Twenty Eight Guns who ran fourth last time after a previous victory, his jumping let him down that day. I will also mention Go West Young Man who has swerved an engagement on Thursday to take up this one, he won in the spring of 2016 and has been crying out for better going, he can go well at a big price.

The 2.40 is the Smarkets Challenger Two Mile Hurdle Series Final Handicap Hurdle (I kid you not) and here again is a pretty hot favourite that is quite high up in the weights. Joke Dancer has won his last two races both on heavy ground, he won’t find that sort of going here as the forecast is good to soft, so I look again at the spring horses. These seem to be Applesandpierres, Hoiryale, Chti Balko and Zulu Oscar. Any of these has a chance but I will go along Donald McCain’s charge mainly because he is a dual course winner, he was highly tried last time in a very hot contest at Sandown won by Mr Antolini and was up there three out before being outpaced and beaten into ninth only 21 lengths behind the winner. If as I suspect Zulu Oscar has had a wind op, he will come into the reckoning, however we won’t know that till declaration day. So it’s Chti Balco for me as a course specialist.

At 3.15 we have the Smarkets Challenger Staying Chase Series Final Handicap Chase, this looks a much more open betting contest but the one I really like against the field is Nick Williams’s Horatio Hornblower, he was second three weeks ago to Pete The Feat at Sandown, when two lengths down at the last he rallied to only go down by a neck. He fits my spring horse theme having won in the spring of 2014 and 2016! He had a good victory at Newbury in January in soft going beating Private Malone and Killala Quay and seems primed for this contest. Behind Time is worth a mention winning last time out at Uttoxeter two weeks ago, but he had a tough race and this one may have come a bit soon. At a bigger price is Wicked Willie, a dual winner this season, lately at Taunton where he just touched off Rolling Dylan, since then he ran fourth at Sandown only seven lengths behind the winner, he is not without a chance.

Finally we head up north to Musselburgh and at 3.35 we have the Totepool Queen’s Cup Handicap, which is part of the course’s first flat card of the season. This 1 mile 6 furlong race will have several contenders that are fit from the jumps and it is one of them I like. Jim Goldie’s Sir Chauvelin would be a very popular local winner, he has been campaigned on both the all-weather and over the sticks and was successful last time on Newcastle’s all weather coming home well. Mark Johnson sends Time To Study for his seasonal reappearance, he was three from seven last year over this distance and has every chance which is reflected in his price. At a bigger price is Brandon Castle, another four time winner on the turf last season, he is coming up from Lambourn but this is a big step up in class for him so his trainer, Archie Watson, must think it’s worth the journey, perhaps he can run into a place. Dubai Fifty looks a stand out contender, a dual winner on turf last year and has had a successful all-weather campaign this winter winning twice, he is still only a five year old and I feel some of these older horses will have too much for him, his time will come.

Saturday Lucky 15 Tips

2.05 – Haydock Masterplan
2.40 – Haydock Chti Balco
3.15 – Haydock Horatio Hornblower
3.35 – Musselburgh Sir Chauvelin