A terrific Sunday in store with cracking action on the Flat at Newbury, while there’s the small matter of the Scottish Grand National at Ayr.

Here are Nick Luck’s thoughts and best bets for both cards.

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DERAB should be able to win the opener on a bumper offering from ITV on Sunday at Newbury (1.00pm). A handsome colt, and half-brother to Enable by Sea The Stars, he was most promising when second to the Craven runner up La Barrosa at Ascot last backend, staying on takingly. This galloping track should suit well, and I expect him to win.

OUTBOX is a lively alternative to the favourite in the John Porter (1.35pm). Since cutting this horse back to 12 furlongs, new trainer Archie Watson seems to have squeezed a bit more out of him and – with a race-fitness edge – I wonder whether Hollie Doyle might just be able to dominate this race from the front and grind the finish out of his rivals.

UMM KULTHUM is taken to win an intriguing and competitive running of the Fred Darling (2.10pm). Although beaten fair and square by Alcohol Free in the Cheveley Park, she raced against the prevailing pace bias that day, and did exceptionally well to close off as well as she did (nicely in front of Happy Romance). She also shaped most promisingly in the Lowther (just behind Nell Gwyn winner Sacred) and, although by Kodiac, the clues in the bottom half of her pedigree suggests at least this trip of seven furlongs will suit better.

ALKUMAIT can get away with it in the Greenham (2.45pm). I’m inclined like most others to believe this horse is likely to find sprinting his optimum test, with the Commonwealth Cup looking a good target, but he may simply have too much class and pace for his rivals here in a race that’s unlikely to be run at a scorching pace this early in the season. Huddleton Mac is one that could go really well at a bigger price – he impressed making all to beat two above average horses at Sandown last autumn and is in excellent hands.

DANYAH looks highly likely to run another big race in the Spring Cup (3.20pm). He would never have beaten Haqeeqy in the Lincoln, but he might certainly have finished a place or two closer but for pulling far too hard early. If he can settle better, he shouldn’t have to improve too much to figure at a track where he’s run very well before.

At a big price, THE GILL BROTHERS could go well – he is contingent on a strong pace that he hasn’t had yet in two improved efforts this season, but is almost guaranteed to get that set-up here.


THEINVAL is a sporting pick at 7/1 in the first TV race at Ayr (1.15pm). This is the third time he has run on both days at this fixture (though he gets a rest day this time) and he’s always run better the second time, as when winning this three years ago. He is better at a strongly run two miles, which he’ll get here, and this isn’t as good a race as the one in which he was beaten only six lengths over further on Friday.

DUBLIN FOUR takes a notch up in grade but can prove up to it in a warm novice handicap (1.50pm). Off a searching gallop at Newbury last time on good ground, he looked a different proposition, living up to the promise that he showed in novice hurdles. A further step in trip can bring about more improvement and he’s a very decent price at 12/1.

THYME WHITE is a risky proposition, but may have found the right slot in the Scottish Champion Hurdle (2.25pm). He barely stays two miles but has a ton of speed and is in slightly calmer waters off a reasonable mark. This slick ground and flat track will never give him a better opportunity at 13/2.

TAMAROC DU MATHAN (15/8) can win the Future Champions’ Novices’ Chase (3.00pm). Clearly Allmankind sets a stiff standard, but he has had a couple of hard races now, and the selection has the benefit of freshness and a very sound jumping technique.

COUP DE PINCEAU is a long shot with an interesting each-way chance in the Scottish National (3.35pm). Less Angus Cheleda’s seven pound claim, he’ll feel like he’s running loose, and I love capable and in-form low weights in this race when they go very hard and it turns into a thorough test of galloping. His new stable has done really well this season and he went with terrific zest on his first try over a proper trip at Taunton last time. His granddam was a very useful extreme stayer in France and he can surprise a few people here at 25/1.

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