The big meeting, and the big race the Grade One 2m1f Clarence House Chase, is off, as are all the Jumps meetings in the UK. It's all about the All-Weather Saturday, though Navan out in Ireland has survived giving the lovers of Jumps action something to look forward to. I have two bets for Saturday.
Best bet for the horse racing at LingfieldAl Agaila bids to complete her hat-trick in the 1m2f talkSPORT Winter Oaks at 2.47. She won a mile Kempton Novice heat back in early December and followed up with an easy victory over track and trip here just before Christmas. She certainly looks the Group filly in a handicap to me and I wouldn't be surprised if she leaves her current mark of 90 well behind as the season progresses. I am on at 5-6. “She went up 11lb for her win last time out, when she won very impressively. She’s an improving filly, but 11lb is a big hike,” said trainer Ed Crisford. “She has a good draw (stall two). It’s a big step up, but if she can carry the 11lb extra then I’m sure she’s capable of better things. She’s potentially an exciting filly.”
Best bet for the horse racing at NavanPaul Nolan is hopeful HMS Seahorse will see out the trip and land the big pot on offer out in Ireland in the 2m4f Navan Handicap Hurdle due off at 1.07. He was one of the few highlights for me at Cheltenham last year as I tipped him each-way when fourth in the G.3 Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (Fred Winter). Nolan is a canny bugger and knows how to get one ready for a target and it wouldn't surprise me if he put in a big run here and then at the Festival in March. The step-up in trip should suit and a mark of 132 is far from harsh for a recently gelded five-year-old open to improvement yet. I am on at 6-1. The trainer told reporters earlier this week "He's in good nick. We gave him a break after the Irish Cesarewitch and he's been gelded since then. He's schooling nicely and we're delighted with his fitness. We think he's gotten a lot quicker and slicker over his hurdles since we gelded him. He's not as careful as he was and we're hoping for a big run from him. The plan is to go here and then send him on to the Festival. We're looking at a few different options. We think he should be able to handle the trip on Saturday and Navan is probably the stiffest track in the country. The Coral Cup is in our thinking and possibly the Martin Pipe as well, but if it turns into a soft-ground festival then the County Hurdle might be an option too."