Saturday's televised racing previews
Saturday's televised horse racing is from Doncaster, Kempton and Newbury 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.
Remember that all UK and Irish horse racing comes with our Best Odds Guaranteed promise which means that, if you take the price when placing your bet, you will get paid at the SP if it ends up bigger than the price you took.
|2:20 Kempton||Read preview||Bet now|
|2:35 Newbury||Read preview||Bet now|
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|3:25 Doncaster||Read preview||Bet now|
|3:45 Newbury||Read preview||Bet now|
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Missoula was a little disappointing here last time out over Christmas but I do feel this step up to 3m will help the Ascot Stakes winner at last year's Royal Meeting more as that event was over 2m4f and the highly-competent Suzy Smith has freshened her up since.
When I spoke to her in the autumn she had the Pertemps Final over this kind of trip in mind and, although that is no longer the plan (not entered), the fact she was aiming her at a principal staying handicap is significant for her chances today moving up in trip to what she really wants over timber for the first time.
Course and distance winner Midas Way and the in-form Captain Americo would worry me most. Midas Way ran well very again here after his C/D win when third to a very well-handicapped horse over Christmas and looks sure to run well whilst Captain Americo is lightly-raced and open to more improvement and struck last time out.
A veteran's chase, and the Irish raider Church Island won a similar race off an 8lbs lower mark at Doncaster last time out. There may be fewer runners here but it is a better race. I do like Charlie Egerton horses at his local track and think Darkness has been held back for this after pulling up in the Welsh National.
A class act as a staying novice a few seasons back where he won here and the Grade 1 Feltham Chase, his owner is a director of the course which gives more fuel to the argument that this has been a plan and he would just about win this if repeating his excellent third to Possol on his seasonal debut at Haydock in a competitive handicap following a layoff.
Horses either take to Chepstow or they don't so his Welsh National blip is forgive and I think getting Darkness back on a flat track will help him as will, more importantly, the return to a decent racing surface on which he flourished as a novice chaser. The in-form Go For One would be idea of the main danger.
I reckon Hobbs Hill could be a real Newbury specialist and believe his local yard have laid him out for this prize. At his best on flat, galloping tracks, his only run here was when winning a Grade 2 novice chase where he looked perfect for this track with his huge galloping stride and towering over the fences.
He had a run a couple of months back at Cheltenham (his only run this season) which I think would be too undulating for such a big horse so put a line through that for which he has been dropped 3lbs for. Very lightly-raced for a ten-year-old having run just 12 times, I think there is better to come and also believe it is significant J P McManus bought him as McCoy usually rides Egerton's best horses and I would have thought he suggested to his boss that this is one he should dip into his pocket for.
Natal is one horse that will enjoy better ground having struggled in testing conditions as he loves it on top as proven by his close second to Twist Magic at last year's Punchestown Festival and I can see him outrunning his odds as a consequence.
He is 15lbs higher than when beating Nacarat in this race last season but deserves to be. The novice Hold Em could start favourite off the back of a big run in last weekend's viciously competitive Racing Post Chase where he faded to finish fourth in the end looking like this drop in trip would be ideal.
He had a tough race though and that would concern me. Ouzbeck is a big threat on decent ground but he didn't jump well before unseating Thornton at Kempton last week when over-jumping as he was possibly too fresh following an absence. Starzaan is locally trained by Hughie Morrison who is also no stranger to lining one up after a long absence so he is respected on his seasonal debut and the booking of Rhys Flint for David Pipe's The Package bringing him down to 9st 9lbs also takes the eye.
The Grimthorpe Handicap Chase has always been a decent race and looks a useful Grand National trial this time around with Comply Or Die back in action taking on a classy handicapper in Gungadu at the top of the weights. I am unconvinced by boty though as the Grand National winner is still without his headgear that will only be put on at Aintree to really perk him up and Gungadu has just not looked anywhere near the same horse as the one that won the Racing Post Chase last season.
Alderburn was third last time out in a competitive Ascot handicap and looks certain to go well. He has actually been dropped 1lb for that run for that good run and 3m on a decent surface is the key to him.
I backed Idle Talk in the Becher Chase where he hated the soft ground and didn't stay in the end and could have been tempted by him if the McCain yard weren't going through a lean spell (one odds-on winner from their last 44 runners before today's action). In short, Alderburn is the best percentage play.
I just get the feeling that Wingman who won a massive pot over this course and distance last season could just be getting ready for the County Hurdle so today may not be his day. Mutual Friend for the resurgent Pipe yard on the other hand is returning from a winter off and he clearly likes better ground as shown by his excellent fourth last time out in October in a competitive big-field handicap at Cheltenham.
He races off the same mark here and a reproduction of that run in this far-less competitive race would probably be good enough. Alan King's novice Norman The Great has also had the winter off and rates a threat on his third here on Hennessy day to Cockney Trucker in what was probably a good novice hurdle and now he tackles handicappers for the first time.
I am surprised they are bringing Free World out again after he was beaten at Sandown two weeks ago. To me, the incredibly hard race both he and Araldur had as 4yos in that Grade 2 race at Sandown in December took a lot out of them (Araldur has since disappointed) and Free World ran poorly at Ascot before his latest defeat.
As a consequence I would fancy Fix The Rib to complete a four-timer. Gary Moore's novice receives 21lbs here and is an in-form course and distance winner who is unbeaten over fences and won all three such races with plenty in hand.
On jockey bookings, he looks the stable number one over Heathcote. Kingham wouldn't be out of it though returning to taking on novices again after a good second to a heavy-ground specialist at Uttoxeter on testing ground last time out.