Charlie McCann of BetVictor.com with the weekend’s best bets
This time next week all eyes will be on Aintree and the Randox Health Grand National and BetVictor yesterday announced they are already offering each way six places and Non Runner No Bet on the race for a seventh successive year.
Gordon Elliot shot to prominence when saddling Silver Birch to win the race back in 2007 – he has the 8/1 favourite Tiger Roll who is looking to add National glory to his hat-trick of Cheltenham Festival successes.
The ground is heavy at Kelso for this afternoon’s valuable card, which has the ITV cameras in attendance.
In the opening 3m Novices Handicap Chase Chris Grant calls on the assistance of Irish amateur Liam Quinlan who takes a valuable 7lbs off the back of Acdc (1.50) who looks sure to appreciate the return to 3m having been just touched off by a short head at Ayr (2m 5f) last time. Regular pilot Brian Hughes is claimed for Hills Of Dubai who goes the other way – stepping up to three miles for the first time.
The four-year-old Taxmeifyoucan (2.25) gets a healthy weight-for-age allowance in the 2m Handicap Hurdle and his hurdling was much improved when he scored over C&D for Keith Dalgleish back in February. He will have to improve again against these more experienced and older rivals but he loves the ground and can justify 11/4 favouritism at BetVictor.
The mare Martiloo (4.10) finished last of three finishers at Musselburgh last time, but that was a decent run given the conditions of the race and she is taken to land a surprise in the handicap chase for Pauline Robson. The selection has only won one career start to date but she has bits of form, which suggest she can go close from her current mark.
At Uttoxeter I hope to see War Sound (3.40) finally get his act together over fences for the Philp Hobbs yard who have had such a disappointing season. There are only four runners in the 2m 4f race but all have live chances in a cracking little race.
Clondaw Rigger (4.50) bounced back to form when runner up at Wincanton last time and a 3lbs raise looks fair taking on a number of either exposed or out of form rivals. Katenko would pick up and carry this lot in his prime, but he looked a light of his former days when pulled up last time and is best watched unless the market says otherwise.
At Fakenham Heresmynumber is likely to be all the rage following his recent C&D success – 5lbs higher today – but I am going to give another C&D winner Global Domination (2.50) the nod. The selection is hardly a serial winner, but is 4lbs lower than when scoring here a couple of years ago and I thought he ran as if his turn was near at Huntingdon last month in his first time cheek-pieces. The headgear is kept on this afternoon.
The Novice Hurdle is the best race on the card and the weights do not favour Oistrakh Le Noir (3.25) but I feel he can beat both Act Of Valour and Pacific De Baune in a hot race. Today’s meeting was put on at the last minute and all involved should be congratulated for getting the card on at such short notice.
Captain Buck’s (4.35) was out of his depth at Cheltenham last time but has bits of form, which give him every chance in the 3m Novice Chase. Step Back jumped violently out to the right at Chepstow on his penultimate start and hinted that he would be best served by a right-handed track. Do note the selection is also unproven on a left-handed track although he jumped well at Cheltenham last time when his inexperienced pilot gave the outside up to no one.
Crosspark (5.10) looks sure to appreciate returning to a left-hand track in the 2m 5f Handicap Chase – the selection was backed as if defeat was out of the question at Leicester last time but is 2lbs lower and I think he should be well served by today’s conditions.
At Exeter on Sunday, I think the handicapper might have let in Lord Napier (2.35) lightly from a rating of 123. The selection – who has won two of his three careers starts – carries 11st 12lbs but there is actually only 6lbs in the weights between all nine runners and this stiff track should suit back at this extended two-mile trip.
The Bay Birch (3.10) has won two of his last three starts and the selection was a fluent winner at Towcester last time. The handicapper has obviously had his say and he races from a 15lbs higher mark today, but he is open to further improvement and can take this step up in grade in his stride.
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