It’s a busy day the length and breadth of this sceptred isle Saturday with racing in the south-west at Newbury, South-Yorkshire at Doncaster, Wales in the shape of Bangor-on-Dee and up north at Newcastle; not forgetting they are under the floodlights at Wolverhampton in the West Midlands late. The weather has been at the forefront of many peoples minds in the run-up and Newbury and Newcastle have had covers on the take-offs and landings as a precaution all week and they both race. Unsurprisingly Triple G has been burning the midnight oil going through the form and I have three bets for the day at some big prices not necessarily where you might think.
Irving will bid for a third win in the Grade One Unibet Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle due off at 2.10 having had a wind operation since his last race. He will though have to beat Buveur D’Air, last years Champion Hurdle and Aintree Hurdle winner who is understandably at prohibitive odds being rated 15lb superior, it’s a race to watch rather than punt in.
Willie Mullins reported ante-post favourite Total Recall to be "doing everything right" ahead of the Grade Three Ladbrokes Trophy (Hennessy Gold Cup) due off at 3.00 down at Newbury. Nicky Henderson has won the race three times saddles RSA Chase runner-up Whisper, the winner of a graduation chase at Kempton on his reappearance for which he carries a 4lb penalty. Singlefarmpayment has to enter calculations as does American taking a step-up in class and could still be improving though this looks a big ask on seasonal debut. 2015 Gold Cup hero Coneygree also goes after a lacklustre performance in the G.2 Charlie Hall in which he sustained an overreach earlier this month and was pulled-up. For all the big names as far as Triple G is concerned the one that might be ahead of the handicapper is Present Man. The Paul Nicholls trained seven-year-old is due to rise 4lb in the OR’s off the back of his last two wins, the most recent being a Listed heat at Wincanton over 3m1f. Bryony Frost was in the saddle for those two runs and rides again taking off a handy looking 5lb into the bargain. Generally 16-1 is available and that looks a great each-way punt to me - shop around as the Bookies are offering lots of different place options.
Up at Wolverhampton on the Tapeta they kick-off with three two-year-old races that are better watched with the future in mind than bet in. At 7.15 they have the sunbets.co.uk Handicap over seven furlongs. Twelve pretty battle hardened types face the starter and I like the look of one in the shape of Secret Lightning. The Michael Appleby inmate has a bit of track and trip form and has dropped to 51 in the OR’s which with Keelan Baker taking off another 7lb means the chestnut mare is on a very attractive mark – won over C&D off 50 last year. A tricky one she has to be delivered at just the right time, never wins by far, so it’s a big ask of a 7lb claimer but that is why she is 33-1 in the betting; I am on each-way and hoping young Baker can produce the ride of his fledging career.
The Betway Casino Handicap at 7.45 sees Towerlands Park dropping down in class having gone in the November Handicap last time. Lightly raced for a four-year-old he has won two of his six starts to date, both at Kempton on the polytrack, and if taking to this surface he won’t be far away. The cheekpieces are on for the first for the Michael Bell yard inmate and at 4-1 the gelding is another each-way pick for me.