Unlike the weather recently, it is the calm before the Cheltenham storm this weekend, with relatively low key meetings across the country.
The focus is more on the Grand National than the Festival, with a number of Aintree aspirants in action today.
Greatwood Gold Cup Handicap Chase
Speaking of the weather, it will be interesting to see how slow the ground has got at Newbury, where a number of contenders for their big race, the Greatwood Gold Cup, would prefer better ground.
They include the Paul Nicholls pair of Sametegal and Art Mauresque. Both have to be on the shortlist given Nicholls’ amazing record in the race and, of the pair, we narrowly prefer Sametegal, although he has his stamina to prove if conditions get too testing.
Off The Ground would also like a sounder surface, whilst Little Jon’s jumping is a concern as it has fallen apart on his last two starts at Cheltenham.
There are a couple of French raiders too, to spice things up, and it is hard to know how good either may be. PYTHAGORE certainly comes into the contest in good form and could be a threat. He will relish any worsening of the ground and may have been underestimated by the bookies.
The other one we like is bottom weight, LASER HAWK, who we tipped a couple of starts back. He made a terrible mistake that day which cost him all chance and had a confidence restorer last time out. He is stepping up in trip here and will hopefully improve for it.
|Pythagore (ew)||3.25 Newbury||14/1||Bet365|
|Laser Hawk (ew)||3.25 Newbury||11/1||Bet365|
Greatwood Veterans’ Handicap Chase
The other big race at the Berkshire circuit is the Greatwood Veterans’ Chase.
Plenty of these are being aimed at the National including ALVARADO who was fourth in the big one last season. His yard is in cracking form and he may be worth chancing despite the fact that this is his first run of the season.
Another in form yard is that of Colin Tizzard and his runner here, MASTERS HILL, is the other one to be on. He has been disappointing this season, but showed signs of a revival last time out and a first time tongue tie may work the oracle.
Pete The Feat looks the big danger.
|Alvarado (ew)||2.15 Newbury||16/1||Bet365|
|Masters Hill (ew)||2.15 Newbury||12/1||Bet365|
The Grimthorpe is another National trial at Doncaster, but it is hard to find a value bet here now that only seven go to post and the same is true in respect of the Premier Chase at Kelso, where Many Clouds takes his next step towards retaining his Aintree crown.
BetBright Casino Handicap Hurdle
For the best bet at either card you need to look at the 2.35pm at Doncaster, where we think conditions have come right for SUGAR BROWN.
Nicky Henderson’s charge is undoubtedly talented, and the best won’t be seen of him until he switches his attention to chasing, but he looks ready for this step up.
|Sugar Baron (win)||2.35 Doncaster||3/1||Bet365|