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Saturday Horse Racing Tips

There’s an incredible day of action on the track today, with twelve hours of top class racing starting in Ireland, Scotland and England this afternoon, and culminating with a contest worth nearly £3m in the early hours of tomorrow morning in Del Mar USA.

We have Gold Cup winners, Gold Cup contenders, Grand National contenders and some of the highest rated flat races horses on the plant all on show. The tricky thing for punters is to know where to start! Champion Chase     

Our initial focus is on the jumpers and the big race of the day in Ireland is the Champion Chase, featuring one of the big fancies for this year’s Gold Cup, Our Duke. He looked a horse to follow when romping away with the Irish National last spring and is the one to beat here.

However, with eight runners there is good each way value elsewhere and the two we like at big prices are ALPHA DES OBEAUX and CARLINGFORD LOUGH.

The former was a top class staying hurdler and had a mixed first season over fences last year when he reportedly bled on several occasions. There was plenty to like about his comeback run and he looks over-priced as he could run into a place at least.

The same is true of Carlingford Lough, who can be a bit in and out, but who is a top class staying chaser at his best. He has won five Grade 1s no less, and it’s interesting that he has a first time tongue tie today.

Alpha Des Obeaux (ew)2.30 Down Royal18/1Boylesports
Carlingford Lough (win)2.30 Down Royal33/1Paddy Power

All odds quoted are subject to change

bet365 Charlie Hall Chase     

Plenty of the runners in Down Royal’s big race will be hoping for Cheltenham glory in March, and a horse who has experienced the ultimate high in the sport of jump racing, is Coneygree and one of our favourite chasers of recent years returns to action in the Charlie Hall at Wetherby.

He clashes with another of the most popular animals in the sport, Cue Card. The overnight rain will suit them both and of the pair we prefer the Bradstock runner. At the prices, though, we like the look of BRISTOL DE MAI. He seems to be a horse that can put in the odd monster performance as when winning the Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock last season and he loves soft ground. Still only six, he should be improving more than most of these.

This is a race that can throw up a shock or two as there is no knowing how fit some of these will be – most of them have bigger targets next month and could be using this race as a stepping stone.

On that basis, throw a few quid at DOUBLE SHUFFLE too, who has the benefit of a recent run. It could be telling that Tom George is prepared to pitch him in at the deep end here.

Bristol De Mai (ew)3.15 Wetherby9/1Bet365
Double Shuffle (ew)3.15 Wetherby33/1Bet365

All odds quoted are subject to change

bet365 Hurdle     

The other big race at Wetherby is The West Yorkshire Hurdle, which could go to another Nigel Twiston-Davies runner, WHOLESTONE. He really caught the eye when running a blinder on his comeback over an inadequate trip at Chepstow three weeks ago.

The biggest danger could be COLINS SISTER, who improved quickly last year and should relish the step up in trip today. She gets a mare allowance, which will help her bridge the ratings gap with the principles here.

Gayebury could also run well if conditions turn really soft.

Wholestone (win)2.40 Wetherby11/4Bet365
Colins Sister (ew)2.40 Wetherby12/1Bet365

All odds quoted are subject to change

Ascot Underwriting Chase     

The day’s other big meeting is at Ascot where the first of four races on ITV4 is at 1.50pm. It is a Novices’ Limited Handicap and we are going to give another chance to COBRA DE MAI, who we tipped last weekend. He was a staying on fifth in a hotter contest at Cheltenham that day and should be hard to beat with this slightly longer trip in his favour.

Cobra De Mai (ew)1.50 Ascot13/2Unibet, Stan James

All odds quoted are subject to change

Byrne Group Handicap Chase     

Next up is the Byrne Group Handicap Chase and with the ground looking likely to ride on the quick side of good FESTIVE AFFAIR looks one for the shortlist. Jonjo O’Neill’s charge loves to hear his hooves rattle and he seems to have found his form over fences on recent starts.

It will be interesting to see how Chris Pea Green copes with the ground as he looks dangerously well handicapped on his return from a very long absence, but safer options look to be THEINVAL and Speredek, who were both very progressive last season. Preference is for Theinval, as he should be better suited by conditions.

Festive Affair (ew)2.25 Ascot16/1Bet365
Theinval (ew)2.25 Ascot15/2Stan James

All odds quoted are subject to change

William Hill Handicap Hurdle     

There’s a listed handicap hurdle up next where we like LIMITED RESERVE and SONG LIGHT. Both have good form in big field handicaps like this and the latter was impressive when winning on the flat at Goodwood recently.

Coral and Betfred are both offering 4 places for each-way bets on this race.

Limited Reserve (ew)3.00 Ascot14/1Coral, Betfred
Song Light (ew)3.00 Ascot12/1Coral, Betfred

All odds quoted are subject to change

Sodexo Gold Cup Handicap Chase     

The big race at the Berkshire track is the Sodexo Gold Cup and it looks a cracker.

Of the market leaders, we like DARK FLAME who has run well here before. He likes the ground and could improve for his first try at 3 miles.

There are some interesting outsiders too and the pair we like most are BALLYKAN (whose recent effort should have put him spot on for this) and REGAL ENCORE, whose last victory came here. He ran really well in the Grand National and surely has more to offer over fences.

Rock Gone and Fourth Act are just two of many dangers.

Betfred and Paddy Power are offering 5 places for each-way bets on this race.

Dark Flame (ew)3.35 Ascot9/1Betfred
Ballykan (ew)3.35 Ascot18/1Paddy Power
Regal Encore (ew)3.35 Ascot40/1Paddy Power

All odds quoted are subject to change

Finally, look out for our Breeders’ Cup tips, which we will post later this afternoon.