It’s the time of the year when the worlds of flat and jump racing collide, and there is top class action at the headquarters of both codes of our sport this afternoon.
Silver Trophy Chase
First up at Cheltenham, the Silver Trophy is the big race at 2.40 and conditions will suit the good ground performers.
At this time of year you are also looking for a relatively fresh animal as April sees the end of a long, hard season for many horses.
On that basis it might be worth taking a punt on one of the outsiders here, CASINO MARKETS.
Emma Lavelle’s horses remain in good form and it is a case of the faster the ground the better for Casino Markets. He had a rest over the winter to avoid the worst of the going and had a pipe opener at Newbury recently to put him spot on for this.
Plenty of these contested races at the Cheltenham or Aintree Festivals, or both, and of those in that category we like THOMAS CRAPPER, who loves it around Prestbury Park. He was fourth in a big handicap here in March, but that race came plenty quick enough after a success at Newbury and he should be fresher for this assignment.
|Casino Markets (ew)||2.40 Cheltenham||20/1||Betfair|
|Thomas Crapper (ew)||2.40 Cheltenham||11/2||Bet365|
Arkells Brewery Handicap Hurdle
There are some good supporting races on the Cheltenham card and in the Arkells Brewery Handicap Hurdle DIVINE SPEAR looks to have rock solid claims for Nicky Henderson. He may well go off favourite, but deserves to based on his consistent form in decent handicaps on recent starts.
At the other end of the market it might be worth chancing the rank outsider, ARTIC GOLD. If he handles the ground he could outrun his big price and he showed up well for a long way in the Pertemps at the Festival. This is a much easier assignment.
|Divine Spear (win)||3.15 Cheltenham||9/4||Bet365|
|Artic Gold (ew)||3.15 Cheltenham||25/1||BetVictor|
Racing UK HD Sky432 Handicap Chase
A staying chase follows with AZURE FLY looking the one to beat. He didn’t like the headgear or the soft ground last time out, but ran well when we tipped him at Musselburgh the time before that. He just failed to stay 4m there, so this 3m 4f trip looks ideal.
His main dangers could prove to be two at double figure prices – UGOLIN DE BEAUMONT and Port Melon.
Slight preference is for the former who is totally unexposed at this trip. If he handles the ground he could cause a surprise.
|Azure Fly (ew)||3.50 Cheltenham||7/1||Bet365|
|Ugolin De Beaumont (ew)||3.50 Cheltenham||20/1||BetVictor|
Citipost Novices’ Hurdle
Finally at Cheltenham, Paul Nicholls can get off to a winning start with COASTAL TIEP, although it will be interesting to see how Blairs Cove runs on his first start for Dan Skelton.
|Coastal Tiep (ew)||2.05 Cheltenham||5/1||Bet365|
Weatherbys General Stud Book Online Handicap
At Newmarket, the day kicks off with a sprint over 6f.
MOONRAKER‘s form may not look anything out of the ordinary, but he has plenty going for him if you look below the surface. Firstly, he will like the drying ground. He also comes here race fit having been in action at the Dubai Carnival. Finally, this trip should suit him better as he has been staying on late when running over 5f.
|Moonraker (ew)||1.50 Newmarket||10/1||Bet365|
bet365 European Free Handicap
The Free Handicap that follows looks to be between SEVEN HEAVENS and Rodaini. The latter’s yard is in flying form, but we think the imperiously bred Seven Heavens can really improve with another winter on his back and the first time hood is a plus too.
The day’s other big race, the Nell Gwyn, looks too hard a puzzle to solve and is best watched.
|Seven Heavens (win)||2.25 Newmarket||3/1||Bet365|