What are the best bets in Saturday's TV races?
Weather permitting – Warwick has to survive an 8am precautionary inspection – there are seven races on Channel 4 this afternoon and they all come under scrutiny here.
13:50 Betfred Mobile Hampton Novices’ Chase (Listed), 3m
Willie Mullins, who had three entered at the five-day stage, relies on BLACK HERCULES, and the seven-year-old has been put in at odds-on to beat just four rivals. A smart staying novice hurdler last term, he made a smooth start to his life over fences at Navan last month and he should be too good for these, though Silsol is respected with his latest second to Seeyouatmidnight at Kelso looking better now than it did at the time. A real mudlark, he might be worth a small punt with Sky Bet as they are refunding stakes on the second horse home as a free bet (up to £25). Otherwise, this is a race to watch.
14:05 188Bet Handicap Chase, 1m7f36yds
Sir Valentino had WHISPERING HARRY well behind when winning at Leicester back in November, but there are grounds for thinking the latter horse can reverse that form here. Henry Oliver’s charge would have needed that run and he’s since finished a close second in a hot handicap at the Newbury Hennessy meeting. An early faller at Sandown last time, he has been given plenty of time to get over that and enjoys a huge 15lb pull at the weights with Sir Valentino, who might not be quite so effective round here having done most his winning at right-handed tracks. Take the 4/1 on offer for the selection at Coral as he should be clear favourite.
14:25 Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle (Qualifier), 3m2f
The Nicky Richards-trained ISAACSTOWN LAD has come a long way since winning a Kelso handicap last May off a mark of 93, with three subsequent successes ensuring he lines up today on a lofty perch of 134. However, he might not be done with just yet as he won with something in hand at Haydock last time and this lightly-raced eight-year-old could well have further improvement in him. His ability to quicken in deep winter ground is a rare talent and, with conditions expectations be very testing, that could make all the difference against his nine rivals. He’s a deserving favourite at 10/3 with Hills.
14:40 Asian Handicaps At 188bet.co.uk Handicap Hurdle, 2m3f154yds
Sue Smith has her string in fine form and VENDOR can give her another winner. As a juvenile, he won twice for Alan King after coming over from France but his best effort came at the 2012 Cheltenham Festival when finishing third (of 21) in the Fred Winter. Presumably an injury kept him off the track for 19 months until making his stable debut at Carlisle last November (well beaten), before showing the benefit of that run when finishing second over 2m here on his next start. More patient tactics were employed on him when returned here last time and that appeared to suit as he won going away by nine lengths. An 8lb rise makes life together but he’s clearly thriving, loves the track and handles this ground, so he’ll do for me at bet365’s 9/2.
15:00 Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2) (Registered As The Leamington Novices’ Hurdle), 2m5f
Dan Skelton’s BORN SURVIVOR puts his unbeaten record on the line and he’s the bookies’ choice at around 9/4 (bet365). Purchased for £220,000 after winning his sole Irish point-to-point, he was never really asked a question when winning his maiden here in December, with the second and third doing their bit to advertise the form since. Connections were quick to nominate this Grade 2 as his target with Skelton describing him as being “more grown up and tougher” than stablemate Three Musketeers, who landed this 12 months ago.
Of his rivals, the Willie Mullins-trained pair of Open Eagle and Thomas Hobson need respecting, though neither are amongst the stable’s best in this division based on racecourse evidence and concede the selection 3lb. Oliver Sherwood won this race with Deputy Dan two seasons ago and his McKenzies Friend could reward each-way support at 12/1 (Paddy Power).
15:20 William Hill Download The App Handicap, 1m2f
Luv U Whatever returned to winning form over 1m51/2f here last time and is just 2lb higher this afternoon. However, he’s far from certain to be so effective over today’s shorter trip and he’s taken on with OUR CHANNEL (4/1 Hills), who is 5lb lower than when finishing second at Lingfield last month and returns to 1m2f for the first time since winning at Epsom in April 2014.
15:35 Betfred Classic Chase (Grade 3 Handicap), 3m5f
The day’s feature is as wide open as the betting suggests. Bookmakers have landed on Alan King’s Sego Success for favouritism at around the 7/1 mark and that seems fair as the eight-year-old bounced right back to form when winning at Doncaster last month and his fifth in last season’s four-miler at the Cheltenham Festival shows he stays this far. However, his jumping can be iffy and the fences here, which come in quick succession down the back straight, may find him out. What’s more, a 7lb rise means he carries top weight of 11st 12lb and that’s a big ask in the conditions.
There are similar concerns over Houblon Des Obeaux, though he is undoubtedly well handicapped on a 10lb lower mark than when sent off at just 8/1 for the Hennessy in November. If he can keep the errors to a minimum he won’t be far away, but I’d rather take a punt on the Kerry Lee-trained RUSSE BLANC at more than double the price – bet365 go a top-priced 20/1.
The nine-year-old looked an out-and-out stayer when scoring over 3m2f on soft ground at Carlisle in the spring, after which the Irish National was mentioned as a possible target. He didn’t make that gig for some reason and was well beaten when reappearing at Exeter in November. However, he ran much better when second at Newbury on his next start, despite losing a shoe, and his latest fifth of five at Bangor in mid-December was too bad to true. His stable is in much better form now and indeed won last weekend’s Welsh National with another mudlark in Mountainous. The selection wouldn’t be as well handicapped as that horse but he has just 10st7lb to carry and that’s got to help his chances no end in the conditions.
Free Bets Offer – back a winner at 4/1 or bigger in any of the seven Channel 4-televised races with bet365 and they will give you a free bet to the same stake ( up to £50 per customer per race) on the next race shown live on Channel 4.