Our racing guru has pinpointed five horses who look primed to run big races this afternoon.
It’s another busy Saturday and the following five horses, all in handicaps at decent prices, might just help boost the Cheltenham Festival betting bank.
RESTLESS HARRY (Newbury 2.15) @ 6/1 William Hill
This veterans’ chase features several familiar names and I must have backed them all at some stage down the years. Pete The Feat being no exception and he look a worthy favourite having shown the old spark is still there in his recent runs and he’s undoubtedly on a good mark these days. However, the selection also looks well treated on his old form and has gone particularly well at this track in the past – form figures here of 231U1 – including when hacking up in a valuable handicap chase a couple of years back. Third on his seasonal reappearance at Bangor in November, the now 12-year-old disappointed on a couple of runs in December when last seen but he’s had a nice break since and has likely had this race as his target for a while. His trainer Henry Oliver has emerged from a quiet spell of late with a winner and several placed horses in the last fortnight and his booking of Paddy Brennan also takes the eye, with the rider boasting a 44% (4-9) strike rate on the stable runners.
GABRIEL THE GREAT (Newbury 2.50) each-way @ 12/1 William Hill“>William Hill
This David Pipe-trained hurdler could be in for a busy few weeks as he is a possible for next Saturday’s Imperial Cup at Sandown and holds an entry in the County Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, depending on how he gets on here of course. It’s a competitive race and you can make a case for most but he is one of the better handicapped runners on a mark of 126, given he was a 135-rated hurdler when with Donald McCain, who won three novice hurdles in a row with him. He reached a peak of 96 when trained on the flat, winning thrice and running eighth (of 31) in the 2013 Cambridgeshire, and his cruising speed makes him ideally suited to competitive, big-field handicaps where they go a good pace. None of that will have been lost on his current trainer, who fits a tongue-tie for the first-time this afternoon (to go with his hood), and needless to say the seven-year-old needs to be kept on the right side of in the coming weeks. The 12/1 on him winning today looks more than fair and it’s hard to resist a speculative each bet on him for the County Hurdle at Betfair’s 66/1, which handily comes with the ‘non-runner no bet’ proviso.
THE ORGANIST (Doncaster 3.10) @ 7/2 Sky Bet
Bought for £60k after an impressive success in a Perth bumper last May, she got off to a flying start for new trainer Oliver Sherwood when hacking up I’m a ‘national hunt’ novices’ hurdle at Huntingdon in November and duly followed at Fontwell on Boxing Day by 28 lengths no less. She lost her unbeaten record at Leicester on her next start, finishing second to the smart Tara Flow, but her trainer took the blame for that defeat, saying he made the mistake of dropping her back to 2m when she clearly appreciates further. Back over a more suitable trip today and venturing into handicap company for the first time on what is potentially a generous mark of 129, she looks something to bet on with Richard Johnson booked to do the steering.
ART MAURESQUE (Greatwood Gold Cup, Newbury 3.25) @ 11/2 BetVictor
Paul Nicholls is bidding for an incredible eighth winner in the last 11 runnings of this race and the lightly-raced six-year-old looks the best of his two runners with Noel Fehily booked. A winner at Cheltenham in October, he finished a close sixth in the Paddy Power Gold Cup at the same course the following month on ground that was perhaps softer than ideal. It was then a combination of very testing ground and a half furlong further that found him out when returned to Cheltenham in December, when finishing a well beaten seventh. Today’s shorter trip and drying ground is therefore very much in his favour and given the stable record you know he won’t lack for fitness, while the handicapper has kindly dropped him 3lb. He must go close with so much in his favour.
FAST TRACK (Lingfield 3.40) @ 7/2 Ladbrokes
The David Baron-trained five-year-old was a promising second on his all-weather debut at Wolverhampton 12 days ago, his first start since September. The well-backed winner Boom The Groom gave the form a timely boost when a close sixth in a Listed race at this track last Saturday and more can be expected of the selection as he has always come on for a run in the past. A three-time winner on turf and second (of 17) in the £62,000 Scottish Sprint Cup at Musselburgh last summer off just 1lb lower, he shapes as though he will be better suited to Lingfield’s sharper 5f and, just for good measure, his stable is flying with three winners and four seconds in the last fortnight.
Good luck all!