Steve Hughes has a wide spread of selections for Saturday
With big races taking place all over the country, both on the flat and over jumps, I have suggestions for three different meetings today. Who Dares Wins was placed for the each-way bet in the Chester Cup (advised 12/1).
Nottingham 2.20: Gnaad
A horse who caught seriously caught my eye on his return to turf at Ascot last week, Gnaad is a confident selection here – just as long as he does not lose too much ground at the start.
He frequently misses the break, but if he can get out within 2l, then the cruising speed he showed at Ascot, can be used to his advantage here. He could not quite get past Burford Brown that day, but the ground was pretty fast.
His best form is with a bit of cut, as exemplified by his win at Sandown last autumn. He seems to let himself down more when there is some dig and that will certainly be the case at Nottingham after frequent showers this week.
Haydock 3.10: Christopher Wood & Thistimenextyear
Two improving youngsters are fancied against the field in this very high class handicap.
Christopher Wood has had just the three runs over hurdles to qualify him for a handicap mark, but he has plenty of experience on the flat, where he showed plenty of natural pace to win over a mile, and he shapes like a horse who will be better on this faster ground. He won two ordinary novice contests at Fontwell and Newbury with ease, showing a high cruising speed. However he is best judged on a fine third to Pentland Hills in a Grade 1 at Aintree, where he might not have been suited by the heavy rain on the day. With his juvenile allowance he gets a nice racing weight today.
Thistimenextyear has his quirks but his fine effort at Aintree last month in the concluding race of the meeting suggested to me he is up to winning a race of this quality. He was given slightly too much to do that day, failing by a head to reach Chief Justice. A likely strong pace will suit this hard puller, who had previously won at Fakenham. He showed good form over the winter in two runs at Sandown, but jumped to his left, suggesting he will always do better going this way around.
Ascot 4.00: Kynren, Ripp Orf, Presidential
Unfortunately we did not learn too much about any draw bias at Ascot yesterday as all the runners came straight down the middle and a host of non-runners meant neither side was used. I strongly favour Presidential, but have a couple of insurance bets in case the near side is unfavoured.
Presidential was a big eyecatcher at Newmarket last month, being dropped out the back before making a fast move 2f out. He could not quite maintain that effort to the finish, but I suspect that outing was very much with today in mind. A big plus is that the ground is much softer today and his best form is with cut. A win under such conditions at Newmarket was followed by a good placed run at Doncaster, but I think he might have improved over the winter.
As alternatives, Kynren must be given one more shot. I fancied him for the Lincoln, but he could never quite get back to the budding group horse Auxerre. I also backed him over a mile here on Champions Day, but having hit the front a likely winner 1f out, he faded late on. He was not drawn ideally that day, but maybe a stiff 7f will see him to better effect.
Ripp Orf, a very successful horse over this 7f trip last season is definitely worth an each-way bet from his middle draw. A fast ground winner over course and distance in September, he also ran well when second on soft ground the following month. I thought he was unlucky when fifth in the Lincoln having got shuffled back at a vital stage. Things never went right at Newbury last time when hold up horses never got involved. However back to 7f today on his favourite track he can take advantage of a drop in the weights.
Haydock 5.25: Huntsmans Son
Highly tried in his novice chase this season, Huntsmans Son has the quality to win a race at this level.
A late entrant into chasing, he shook up subsequent Grade 1 winner Kalashnikov on fast ground at Warwick on his first start of the season. Well beaten on testing ground at Uttoxeter next time, he then went on to finish a good second at Doncaster before a sparkling novice success at Newbury over this 2m4f trip.
I don’t thick very soft ground, nor a stiff track suits him ideally so he is easily forgiven only placing ninth at the Cheltenham Festival. However he still showed up well for a long way then and this is probably his level.
1pt win – Gnaad – 2.20 Nottingham – 7/2 Paddy Power, BetVictor
1pt win – Christopher Wood – 3.10 Haydock – 8/1 Bet365, Paddy Power
0.75pts each-way – Thistimenextyear – 3.10 Haydock – 12/1 general
1pt win – Kynren – 4.00 Ascot – 15/2 general
0.75pts each-way – Ripp Orf – 4.00 Ascot – 10/1 general (1/5 odds 1st 5)
1pt win – Presidential – 4.00 Ascot – 9/1 general
1pt win – Huntsmans Son – 5.25 Haydock – 9/2 Bet365, William Hill