Our resident tipster has picked out five horses worth backing this Saturday.
Saturday sees competitive jumps action at Ascot and Wetherby, while Newmarket stages its final meeting of the flat season. If you’re having a bet – and why not? – the following five horses might just help you turn a profit.
ZEROESHADESOFGREY – bet365.com Novices’ Chase (Wetherby 1.25)
This looks a decent renewal of this 3m novices and with some of the bigger stables having runners, I’d be hopeful of bagging a nice price on Neil King’s runner. A dual bumper winner, he took to hurdles last season like a duck to water, rattling off a hat-trick before Christmas and then finding the frame at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day, despite appearing to dislike the track, and in a Grade 2 at Doncaster. But all that was a bonus as he’s built to be a chaser and, indeed, his trainer revealed in a recent Stable Tour that he never schooled him over hurdles last season, only over fences – he should be well prepared then! He also made him his ‘trainer’s pick’ for the coming season, nominating this race as his starting point, and the flat track and forecast goodish ground is just what he needs to show his best. I really like his chances.
STEPHANIE FRANCES – OLBG.com Mares’ Hurdle (Wetherby 2.30)
Dan Skelton’s mare ended last season with a couple of wins at Ludlow and Cheltenham against her own sex and she’s still improving judging by her most recent start at Kempton, where she finished a couple of lengths behind The New One. The bare form undoubtedly flatters her but she clearly in great heart at present and will enjoy a fitness advantage over several of her rivals. Her trainer, who has been in terrific form of late, intends to run her in a novice chase before the ground goes against her (she hates soft), but he was keen on her chances in this in a recent Stable Tour, saying “she’ll take a heap of beating.” Agreed!
AQALIM – West Yorkshire Hurdle (Wetherby 2.00) @ 7/1 bet365
John Ferguson’s golden run of form shows no sign of stopping and his gelding looks to have a cracking chance in this weight-for-age contest. Given his high rating it’s not surprising that connections are thinking of skipping handicaps and going novice chasing with him this season and he could make a big splash in that sphere. But his hurdles form bears close inspection, with the highlight arguably being his fifth in the Pertemps Final at the Cheltenham Festival, and he only needs to run to within a few pounds of that effort to land this. What makes him even more appealing is that the two horses in front of him in the current betting are opposable: Rock On Ruby is a doubtful stayer, while Grumeti has a bit to find on the ratings and had a hardish race when winning the Cesarewitch on the flat three weeks ago.
UNANIMITE – William Hill Handicap Hurdle (Ascot 2.50) @ 16/1 Paddy Power
This is ultra competitive as you’d expect for the prize money on offer and several can be fancied. David Pipe’s charge is perhaps a little harder to fancy on the form he showed towards the end of last season, but he was impressive when winning first time out at Market Rasen in September and ran well in defeat on several occasions, including when not beaten far in the Fred Winter at the Cheltenham Festival. His trainer said in a recent Stable Tour that he’d been working well at home in preparation for this race and suggested that he might be one to catch fresh. I’ve been following the stable for many years now and it’s clear from his comments that the four-year-old has been readied for this by one of the best target trainers in the land.
DANCETRACK – James Seymour Stakes (Newmarket 3.10)
The turf flat season is in its last throws now and I wouldn’t blame punters for turning their nose up at the Newmarket action with some cracking jumping on offer elsewhere. But it could be worth making an exception for Charlie Hills’ three-year-old as he’s had this race as his target after a shock 14/1 success on his first start since the spring at Haydock last month. He’s been pleasing his trainer since and has always been considered a potential Pattern race performer, with the step up to 1m2f very much in his favour. Several of his rivals have been on the go for a long while and could be ready for a break, whereas the selection is relatively fresh and still improving.