Horse racing tips for Monday: Tipstar champion Ross Millar reveals his best bets

By Ross Millar@rosscojmill
Mon 22 Feb 2021

Our 2020 Tipstar champion tipped two 8-1 winners - from three selections - on Saturday, and is back to mark your card for Monday's racing action.

What a weekend of racing! Remastered was very impressive at Ascot - his front-running, bold jumping display bore a distinct resemblance to Native River, who runs in the same colours.

I am not suggesting he’s a future Gold Cup winner, but he certainly looks a bright prospect for staying chases.

Ride of the day must surely go to Matt Griffiths who clearly had a plan to get Cyrname out of his comfort zone, and executed it to perfection.

At Haydock, Lord Du Mesnil was ultra-tough to repel the persistent challenge from Achille to land the Grand National trial, although the way he chipped in an extra stride to a few fences would leave me cool on his chances in the big race itself.

The form line of Paisley Park, Thyme Hill and Roksana got a healthy boost as Third Wind ran out a comfortable winner of the Rendlesham Hurdle.

All of this happened before Gary and Jamie Moore threw a giant grenade into the Champion Hurdle picture, courtesy of a dominant performance from Goshen in the Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton.

Truthfully, I am still digesting it and I couldn’t say with any conviction what I think will happen, should all the main protagonists get there in March, but he surely can’t have beaten the same Song For Someone who won the International Hurdle, and the same Navajo Pass who won the Unibet Hurdle? Or did he?

On Sunday, Nicky Henderson once again demonstrated why he is one of the training greats as Champ proved there was indeed method in the madness as he ran a great race to finish second in the Game Spirit Chase.

Watch a full replay of Champ's return in the Game Spirit

It certainly provided more colour to the Gold Cup picture than the perceived trial, namely the Denman Chase, did. It will surely take a miracle for Lostintranslation to be a threat in the Gold Cup itself.

The Betfair Hurdle showed, yet again, how capable the Jonjo O’Neil team are at readying one for a big handicap, but for me, the horse to take out of the race was Guard Your Dreams who, although getting outpaced, stayed on very well, and he would certainly interest me if lining up in a Coral Cup.

Finally, if you haven’t already, be sure to watch a replay of Hugh Morgan’s remarkable ride to win on Young Dev at Navan – skill of an elite degree!

Watch: Take a bow, Hugh Morgan!

Here are my three fancies for Monday’s racing action at Southwell and Carlisle.

1.45 Southwell: Quartz Du Rheu at 18-1

The likely favourite in this contest is Falco Blitz. However, he has been notably keen on both of his chase starts, which has certainly prevented him from seeing his race out at the business end.

After yet another near two-month absence, and in a small field, I see no reason why that won’t be the case again, and for that reason, I am keen to take Falco Blitz on.

As for the others, Quoi De Neuf has to bounce back from a very poor run in December, while Samarquand looked thoroughly disinterested on his last start, and Diese Des Bieffes looked a very awkward conveyance, complete with a questionable jumping technique at Wincanton on his chase debut.

My selection is Quartz Du Rheu who arrives here after two satisfactory, if underwhelming, chase starts.

His first try at chasing came at Uttoxeter where he jumped very big, and green, in the early stages and was then ridden very wide plus received a good education.

His last run came in a hot-looking handicap at Sandown, and his jumping was significantly better. He was also travelling very strongly before getting slightly hampered when going to the Pond fence, and from that point on, he was sympathetically handled, with the soft ground at Sandown far from suitable.

He should get a far sounder surface here, and all of his best form in Ireland was on better ground, and smart form it is, too.

He finished just a length behind the now 142-rated Turnpike Trip, and also failed by a length to concede 6lb to Anything Will Do, who has a rating of 136.

His chase mark of 125 is 7lb below his hurdle mark, and I expect him to take full advantage of that here on this better ground.

2.40 Carlisle: Equus Dancer each-way at a general 6-1

I hope all of the eight declared here make it to post, so bookmakers pay three places each-way.

Equus Dancer is already a winner of two of his four chase starts, and I think he can take that record to three from five here.

It might be a strange comment to make about a horse that has won two races, but I think his best performance actually came when he failed to complete at Newbury on his penultimate start over 2m6f.

He was in the process of staying on nicely behind the now 147-rated Paint The Dream when unseating Sean Bowen at the last, and I am certainly not suggesting he’d have won that day, but I do think it is reasonable to say that he was booked for a place, and run a career best in the process.

He dropped back in trip to 2m3f at Chepstow next time out, where he finished third, and travelled and jumped well before staying on at the same pace.

He has previous winning form at Carlisle and has shown his ability to handle soft ground, though heavy is an unknown.

I think the Newbury run shows he is potentially better than a mark of 130 and I hope going back up in trip will help him show that here.

3.20 Southwell: The Ravens Return at a general 18-1

The Ravens Return does indeed return to hurdles from fences, and not a moment too soon as he is not the best jumper of a fence.

It was testament to the ability he obviously posses that he was still in contention jumping three out at Wincanton last time out as he made a catalogue of jumping errors throughout the race.

He does find himself 3lb above his last winning mark, but I am confident that it’s a rating that is still workable.

His last win came at Newton Abbot where he beat the 118 rated Jack Valentine by a length when giving him 6lb.

He has winning form on good ground over 2m5f, and also stuck on well over the same trip on soft ground, so I am optimistic the trip is in his range.

The key part to the equation, however, is the ground - he hasn’t raced on ground with the word ‘good’ in the description since May 2019 when he was a very easy, 27-length winner from Officernisi, who is rated 102, which gives reason to think there is yet more to come from him.

At likely double-figure odds, I think he has outstanding claims.

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