There are some big races over the sticks this weekend but I will be watching rather than punting in them with future engagements in mind as we edge ever closer to the Cheltenham Festival – see the dedicated page.
The one race I will be having a go in is at Ascot. Triple G favourite Un De Sceaux will face just four rivals as he bids for a third successive victory in the Grade One Royal Salute Whisky Clarence House Chase due off at 3.35. The Willie Mullins trained ten-year-old would be the first three-time winner of the two-mile-one-furlong contest; unusually one of those victories came when the race was staged at Cheltenham last year. It will surprise no regular readers that I fancy him to do it again this year especially with the conditions being near perfect soft-good to soft in places. Naturally, he is short at 4-7 so he might be best used as the banker in doubles and trebles. Talking earlier this week assistant trainer Patrick Mullins said: "It looks a great opportunity for him to complete the hat-trick in the race. His comeback at Cork earlier in the season showed he looked as good as ever under David Mullins. He is an amazing horse and his love for the game is unbelievable. Every morning he is out there whizzing around the gallops and he never gets tired of galloping and jumping. He should have his favoured ground and he loves the track.” Nicky Henderson's Brain Power has attracted plenty of support throughout the week and the novice is the one who is feared but only if Un De Sceaux isn’t firing on all cylinders.
For my main bets I am concentrating on the all-weather as usual and hopefully, I have a few winners up my sleeve for the afternoon.
The 2.35 at Lingfield is the 1m4f Betway Handicap. Marco Botti saddles Al Hamdany who has been in decent enough form on the all-weather thus far this winter winning a handicap at Kempton before two second placed finishes the last of which was over track and tip in December. I think Kirby gave him a little too much to do that day and if Kieran Shoemark can get him nearer the pace early in this he looks to be more than capable of winning. At 9-4 I am on.
In the Play Slots At sunbets.co.uk/vegas Fillies' Novice Stakes over a mile at 3.40 we have a gaggle of unexposed three-year-olds. A couple are pretty well-bred none more so than Cosmic Love being by Sea The Stars out of Soodad (Kings Best). She was second on her debut over the 7f course here a month ago running on strongly. The Haggas yard is in fine form, Georgia Cox takes off a handy 3lb and to my eyes this chestnut filly looks a winner in waiting as they say and should prove better than this level in time. You can get 11-8.
The lucky last at Lingfield is the 4.10 the Betway Sprint Handicap over six. A couple have chances but Bridge Builder should go well again off a rating of 62 in a race he won last year off 69. He won a six-furlong event at Kempton as a warm-up 10 days ago and is clearly well weighted at his best. Grab a bit of the 6-1.
Godolphin had three horses engaged for Saturday, two with multiple entries, and the running plans have now been confirmed; only two run and they go against each other in the Chelmsford City 7.15 Bet totequadpot At betfred.com Maiden Fillies' Stakes. Beautiful Memory was entered by Saeed bin Suroor at Lingfield in the afternoon but comes to Essex for a Saturday night out instead - not the first filly to do that! The 14th foal by Express Way she is a half-sister to nine winners including G.1 winning Rio De La Plata. Third on debut at Leicester, she was third again on her second start at Chelmsford City over seven in what looks a fair Novice Stakes with three winners coming out of the race. The way she kept on in both starts suggest the step-up to 1m2f should suit her and I have taken a bit of the early 2-1. Charlie Appleby has newcomer Menuetto making her debut and on breeding I would expect her to have to play second fiddle to the other Godolphin filly but she is worth keeping an eye on none the less.