Weatherby's preview: Scottish Grand National meeting and Newbury
The flat season is truly in full swing and as we know you want to start churning out winners straight away we've once again got our Weatherby's expert Paul Jones to give you his opinions on the big televised races today.
All the action can be seen live on Channel 4 with the first race starting at 2:05, with exciting flat action from Newbury and thrilling jump racing coming from Ayr.
The racing from Ayr includes the afternoon's showpiece, the Scottish Grand National going off at 3:25.
Don't forget that every race comes with our Best Odds Guaranteed promise, which means if you take a price when you place your bet and the SP is bigger, we will pay you out at the bigger price.
Royal And Regal won this race 12 months ago when the testing ground came right into his favour having previously been a confirmed stayer having won over 2m for Andre Fabre.
My thoughts before Friday's racing was the ground would not be testing enough for him over 1m4f but it looked like holding ground yesterday so I have changed my mind on that score and rate him a big player.
With the Gosden team going so well a case can certainly be argued for Centennial who came to hand early last season.
I do feel that Spanish Moon has a class advantage over his rivals and he is also race-fit having been denied in the last stride in a well-contested Grade 1 at Nad Al Sheba on Dubai World Cup night.
Sir Michael Stoute, who excels with older horses so it is highly significant that Spanish Moon stays in training as a 5yo, has a good record in this race better known as the John Porter Stakes down the years.
Tastahil represents another in-form yard in that of Barry Hills but this is big step up taking on a Group 1 horse like Spanish Moon at levels than winning a small Listed race last time.
A desperately difficult looking 25-runner handicap again but it is not often the Spring Cup goes the way of a horse too far away from favourite with all bar one of the last ten winners starting no bigger than 12/1.
The draw and luck in running are likely to play a huge role so I wouldn't go mad and I most like the chances of Zaahid (each-way) who I suggested as the each-way horse of the William Hill Lincoln where he went on to just find the handicap good thing exactly that.
I don't doubt that Zaahid is slightly better at 7f than today's mile which nags me hence the suggested each-way insurance in case he is outstayed close home.
He is handicapped well enough off just 3lbs higher than when second to Expresso Star because if the winner wasn't declared meaning Zaahid would have won the William Hill Lincoln, he could have gone up at least 7lbs for that run instead of 3lbs.
He also has winning form with cut in the ground and at the track so he should give another good account.
Mia's Boy is drawn next to him today but he didn't have the best of the draw in the William Hill Lincoln but beat his six rivals on the stands' side and races off the same mark so he is respected.
The same applies for Manassas who is up only 5lbs for his win in the consolation race.
I felt he did well to win that day as had nothing to race with the action taking place up the other flank and he is another candidate who I could not put you off.
A race with too many questions for me and although I'msingingtheblues and Deep Purple stand out on form.
I could see both getting turned over as this race has seen many a form choice stuffed down the years with the earlier-season exertions catching up with them.
Noland blew out as hot favourite last season and I'msingingtheblues runs in the same ownership and is also the clear form pick.
He returns to a flat track following his run in the Arkle on an undulating track that would not have played to his strengths which are his slick fast jumping but that is certain to be reflected in his price.
Deep Purple is at his best dominating small fields so he would be a contender if he can win the battle for the early lead.
There is also the possibility the two form horses may attempt to cut each other's throats up front for early dominance.
This would set the race up for stronger stayers like Tot O'Whiskey, who interestingly now carries first time blinkers and reverts back to novice events after undertaking some tough tasks in hot handicaps, and Turkish Surprise would come into it.
I was wondering what they were going to do with Medermit next. I had the Swinton Hurdle at Haydock down as an ideal race for him.
A fast-run two miles on good ground would be perfect but this also makes sound sense as the ground looks set to be on the good side and 15 runners should mean he will get his good lick.
His second in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle was obviously a very good run but he is expected to be even better on good ground.
Sentry Duty has already won two big handicap hurdles on decent ground this season before being outclassed in the Champion Hurdle so I very much respect his chance. Those two wins were both at Ascot but he beat Celestial Halo fair and square at Doncaster on his hurdling debut so going left-handed would not worry me if I had backed him.
Blue Bajan is another likely to enjoy sitting off a fast pace on a flat track but he is going to be doing incredibly well to win this race off a 24lbs higher mark than when winning the Swinton last spring though I still see him running creditably.
Culcabock won at Aintree two weeks ago but he is becoming a bit of a track specialist there so I would not be overly interested in him here.
This will be Ski Sunday's sixth run since February 1st and I can't recall a four-year-old winning this race for a long time.
The horse at the low end of the weights to interest me most is Tom George's Secret Tune from 4lbs wrong after two wins at Newbury but I would be disappointed if Medermit could not give him 8lbs.
This 1000 Guineas trial has attracted an unusually large field and I would be keenest on the chances of Moineach whose attitude really impressed me when she won the Irish 1000 Guineas Trial at Leopardstown.
Jim Bolger's first reaction was to head to the Irish 1000 Guineas as he has Cuis Ghaire for Newmarket but I can see Moineach also taking her chance if she wins here.
Michael Bell's Sariska has been catching many an eye on the gallops and this once-raced winner of the same Newmarket maiden Infallible won as a 2yo, before she won the Nell Gwyn.
My worry would be that in a recent interview her trainer said she is a big filly that would dwarf her rivals in the paddock so I am wondering whether first time out may be the best time to catch her.
More worryingly, the yard haven't got off to their usual fast start to the campaign, far from it in fact and Art Connoisseur offered very little in a classic trial earlier in the week.
Lahaleeb could be more of a danger as Channon's yard have got off to a decent start and he usually runs his best 3yo filly in this race.
Beaten around 3½ lengths last season in separate races won by Rainbow View and Fantasia who head the market for the 1000 Guineas at short prices.
If they are as good as the Classic betting suggests, she may need only run up to that form to win here and she ended her campaign with a convincing win in the Group 2 Rockfel Stakes that has been the best guide to the 1000 Guineas in recent seasons.
In short, I think Moineach will be a tough nut to crack being an in-form filly and hailing from a massively in-form yard and has a great attitude with Lahaleeb looking the main danger.
The novices look very strong here and I will be a little surprised if one of them doesn't win.
I was hoping Tricky Trickster was going to run in the Mildmay Chase at Aintree as I reckon he would enjoy himself there in front in a small field but, unsurprisingly given Nigel Twiston-Davies' affinity with the Scottish National, and especially with novices having won it twice with first-season chasers.
He also had another novice in Sweet Duke finish a close second, he has reverted to type and goes for this big prize and I think he has a great chance.
Tricky Trickster was the only horse from the stable to win when they went through their long losing run (that tells us something), I couldn't really have him for the NH Chase being a six-year-old given their dreadful record in the race so, for him to win at that age tells us something else very positive about him.
He is definitely on my shortlist as is another classier novice in my opinion in Gone To Lunch.
I was all set to back Gone To Lunch for the big handicap chase that ends the season at Sandown next Saturday if he wasn't declared here so I am disappointed he runs at Ayr as I reckon Sandown would have suited him better.
Being a prominently-ridden horse at a track that suits such horses in a weaker looking race but he has looked well suited to racing left-handed this season and they would also be risking the ground going against him if they wait another week as it is right for him now.
Ignore his RSA Chase run as he made a terrible mistake that shuffled him down the field in a race run at an unrelenting pace and he rather gave up when he couldn't get it into as he does like to race up in the van.
Chief Dan George is another novice with a big chance and his thrashing by Killyglen doesn't look so bad now, and he is getting better with every race having been a slow learner over fences.
Nine De Sivola still remains a maiden over fences and I envisage a big run from him though his profile suggests he may find one or two better.
He is 10lbs higher than when second in this race two years ago and you can forget his early season form as his trainer prepares them for the spring where the bigger prize money is.
Coe and West End Rocker are two more novices not without a chance but I question whether either possesses the tactical speed on good ground to be seen at their absolute best.
Roger Charlton warned punters that Cityscape would improve for the run last week so that is enough to make me think he may find one or two too sharp today.
I am also concerned the drop back to 7f from his very good second in the Royal Lodge Stakes over 1m is not ideal.
A straight track should be as he looks a real galloper that would be ideally suited to the Rowley Mile and I can see him being a big player in the 2000 Guineas.
The Dewhurst second and third Lord Shanakill and Finjaan cross swords again but it was very poor Dewhurst for my money and the winner is just about the only Bolger 3yo to run have this season to have been beaten
This makes me dubious about them, though I do like Finjaan as an individual as he has loads of class and if this gets tactical I could see him outspeeding these.
Bolger brings over Vocalised but I am not convinced about how classy he is and Godolphin's horses don't seem to find their feet until around Dante time so their Shaweel wouldn't be for me either.
All in all, this is hard and the tentative selection is Finjaan.