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Nic Ladds 7th Mar 2009 - 0:00

Saturday's big race previews

Saturday's televised horse racing is from Sandown and Wolverhampton and can also be viewed right here at williamhill.com through racingTV.

Paul Jones, our Weatherbys' expert tipster, brings you his thoughts on the big TV races of the day. With the big meeting just weeks away, you might also like to read Paul's weekly Cheltenham Festival previews.

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This is always a good race and this year's race looks no exception. Clay Hollister impressed me here in December but disappointed me last time and I think he may be more speed than stamina.

Bakbenscher would be more interesting. I know Alan King was hoping he would develop into a Ballymore Properties contender at the start of the season but he has taken a while to find his feet over hurdles but came good last time at Newbury after a terrible run at Ascot and could be very attractively rated off 128.

Big Eared Fran has been whispered as being one of the Pipe runners in next Friday's inaugural Martin Pipe Conditionals Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle at the Festival so I would have time for his chance.

In addition to this, Quartz De Thaix who is chasing a hat-trick having been well placed by Venetia Williams but his last win was a bit of a nothing race and he will have to improve again. Bakbenscher is my idea of the most likely winner.


Not the most exciting handicap ever staged at Sandown to appear on terrestrial television but one in which Zacharova is likely to take the beating in.

Venetia Williams' string continue in good form and this course and distance winner (I like those in chase races at this course) won with plenty in hand last time so am not sure a 9lbs rise will stop him.

Antonius Ceasar is yet to win a handicap chase but the handicapper is giving him a chance and he ran last time out in what was probably a better race than this and can prove the main danger to Zacharova.

I just wonder if these fences will catch out Trigger The Light who also looks like he now wants a stiffer test of stamina as well.


Given the Pipes' domination of this race down the years, punters will be all over Mr Thriller but don't go forgetting Seven Is My Number off bottom weight either.

Dealing with Mr Thriller first, he has really impressed in his two starts for the yard and it looks like this is part one of the bonus with the Fred Winter likely to part two as it was for Gaspara who completed the bonus and Ashkazar who narrowly failed.

If any horse will bolt up, I think it will be him. I have been hearing sneaky things on the Cheltenham Festival Preview Evening circuit for Seven Is My Number so I don't discount him here.

It wouldn't be the first time the Pipes' have won a big handicap with a seasonal debutant and this former quality bumper runner has his first run in a handicap here having won a maiden hurdle on his third hurdling start so he very much intrigues me at around 15/2.

Numide is no doubt also chasing the bonus as he is currently favourite for the County Hurdle but I am not sure this is his track and prefer the Pipe pair.

Of those at big prices, I quite like the look of European Dream who does run this track well and has been placed in competitive handicaps here and has been in very good of late.

I couldn't put anyone off having a few quid each-way at a very big price.


I can pass on a good word for Alan King's Asturienne as I know this quite valuable race of its type has been the long-term plan and would not be bothered Robert Thornton rides the yard's Polly Potter as Wayne Hutchinson rode Asturienne when she made a winning debut so knows what she can do.

I would put a line through her third placed effort last time out as the ground was chopped up and it was run at a crawl so the winner, who made all, had an advantage in the ensuing sprint and we were giving her weight.

The second is a very well regarded by Philip Hobbs. I think the track will suit as the further she went the better she looked on her debut and I reckon she will enjoy the hill so couldn't put anyone off backing her at an each-way price.

There are 11 other winners in this mares bumper including Golden Sunbird from Paul Nolan's Irish stable with McCoy booked so she is very interesting especially having won on her only start three months ago.

Nicky Henderson always has a strong bunch of bumper mares horses so if he is only relying on Kerada, she would also have to be respected.

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