Jack Milner of BetVictor.com previews Tuesday’s cards
Gigginstown supremo Michael O’Leary confirmed his intentions to remove the trio of Outlander, Don Poli and Empire of Dirt from the Grand National at Aintree in protest to the weights burdened on all three geldings and BetVictor have removed the trio from this year’s market. We make Vieux Lion Rouge the 12/1 (from 14s) market leader on the back of his Haydock success over the weekend and, given his Becher success over the national fences in December, he must go close in his follow-up bid in the spring.
The Pipe yard have taken just five runners to Wetherby in the past 12 months and it will be fascinating to see how Citrus gets on in first-time blinkers in the Handicap Hurdle over two and a half miles. He could be well-treated from a revised mark of 105 however, I’m willing to look elsewhere and preference lies instead with Milan Bass (4.00) under the excellent David Bass. Kim Bailey’s well-bred mare is a winning pointer and will surely end up over fences next season but in the interim she can land a nice pot over hurdles now upped in trip on her handicap debut from an opening mark of 104.
The pair can similarly go close with The Drinkymeister (4.30) in the 3m Handicap Chase bidding to concede weight all round. The selection has been pulled-up on both starts this term in competitive handicap chases at both Hexham and Sedgefield but he should improve bundles for this afternoon’s forecast better ground. The handicapper has taken a further 2lb off and he can reward each-way support in first-time head-gear.
Johnny Farrelly’s mare Oscar Jane (2.20) has defied big weights to win at Taunton at the past, carrying 11’2 and 11’12 to win course and distance handicaps last season and has conditions to suit to claim a third fourth career success. The selection has won three times at the track, all with soft ground in the title, and after a recent pipe-opener at Leicester can return to winnings ways under regular partner Brendan Powell.
The 2m 3f Novices’ Hurdle looks on paper a match between Alan King’s Cajun Fiddle and Nicky Henderson’s Verdana Blue (3.20) with marginal preference for the latter under Jeremiah McGrath. The well-bred mare was well-backed prior to unseating jockey Daryl Jacob on her seasonal reappearance at Exeter, when Cajun Fiddle finished a beaten favourite in fourth, but made no amends last time out at Hereford and must go close in her bid to follow-up under a penalty.
The pair can complete doubles with Towering (3.50) in the Handicap Chase just shy of three miles. The selection was unlucky to bump into a well-handicapped horse of Sue Smith’s last time out at Doncaster and can go one better from an unrevised mark. The form of that race has worked out especially well and he is a confident selection to make it second time lucky over fences.
There’s £20,000 up for grabs in the feature Handicap Hurdle over an extended two miles where Top Tug (4.20) must go close for the in-form yard of Alan King. The selection was smart on the level for former handler Sir Michael Stoute and made a winning debut over timber in the BetVictor Novices Hurdle at Kempton in November. The son of Halling has been far from disgraced running under penalties at Huntingdon at Catterick and could prove ahead of his opening mark of 130.
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