Racing fans attention will be drawn to the sparkling action at Sandown and Aintree this weekend and our man Nick Luck is on hand as always to find us a few winners
We may not have Douvan, Un De Sceaux or Altior, but the Tingle Creek rarely disappoints as a spectacle and with Charbel and Ar Mad in the field we can be guaranteed a furiously run and exciting race.
I would actually consider making a case for either or both of those but I didn’t like their respective comeback runs and both now have a bit to prove. In addition they might take each other on for the lead which will not be ideal.
Clearly Fox Norton is a worthy favourite on ability alone but I just wonder whether this might be a bit on the sharp side for him round here and I’m keen to have a crack at Politologue who was most impressive around about this time last year before his form arguably ebbed a little bit. His comeback run was very strong and he tends to win his races in the mid part of the race and I think Sandown could well suit him on Saturday.
I’ve got a feeling it might be a very good day for Paul Nicholls and his Capitaine can outrun his odds in the Henry VIII Novices Chase at 1.45pm – he’s been targeted at this race for some time and definitely wants relatively decent ground.
Let’s make no bones about it: this is a serious race and he’s got four very talented horses to beat but Brain Power, massive talent though he is, is not a horse I’d want to take short odds about. I think Finian’s Oscar wants further and North Hill Harvey wants more cut in the ground plus I’m not sure the track is going to be ideal for him.
Sceau Royal is a handy horse, a good jumper who can run well, but Capitaine made a really good impression on me at Market Rasen and could be a bit better than he has shown so far.
In the 2m Handicap Hurdle at 2.20pm I’m going to go with A Hare Breath who is humping plenty of weight here for his first run since he was well beaten in a handicap hurdle at Aintree.
I think fresh might be the best time to catch him and he is not badly handicapped on his best form.
Another terrific card at Aintree and the Becher Chase can go the way of Viva Steve who is looking more and more like a strong and talented stayer.
He won’t mind if the ground gets pretty wintry, he is a very solid jumper and he ran a super race in the Kerry National. I’ve been so impressed with Johnny Burke since he has been riding in England and it’s good to see Fergal O’Brien amongst his fan club.
In the other race over the Grand National fences, O’Brien’s near neighbour Nigel Twiston-Davies can strike again in a big Saturday race courtesy of Arctic Gold in the Grand Sefton. He has run two perfectly sound races this season and is sufficiently unexposed, so I think there should be a bit more to come.
Whilst it’s a race I don’t necessarily want to have a bet in make sure you all tune in to Punchestown on Sunday at 2.05pm, live on AtTheRaces, for the clash between Sizing John and Djakadam in the John Durkan Memorial Chase. I think Sizing John ought to be favourite.
2.20 A Hare Breath
1.30 Viva Steve
3.10 Arctic Gold
Odds are provided at time of writing, please check your betslip to confirm they have not changed before betting.