By Andy Stephens
There are six Grade Two races and some cracking handicaps for jump fans to get stuck into on Saturday, while Ryan Moore has three rides on the All-Weather at Lingfield.
Moore has bright prospects aboard Intrepidly (3.10) and should not be far away aboard Towerlands Park (2.00), although the Oisin Murphy-ridden Surrey Hope is the one to beat in the latter contest. Most of my punting, though, is going to be at Cheltenham and Doncaster.
Connections of Coo Star Sivola also had him entered in the novices’ handicap chase on this card over this same trip but this prize is worth £25,000 more to the winner and who can blame them for going for the bigger prize?
The six-year-old already has plenty of Cheltenham experience under his belt and his seven previous runs at the track include two near-misses at the Festival over hurdles.
He has the physique to do even better over fences and, 5lb lower in this sphere, he is well worth an interest because this type of contest is going to suit him better than the small-field novice chases he has been contesting.
More rain is forecast in the morning but all ground seems to come alike to him and Lizzie Kelly, unable to claim in his past two races, takes off 3lb and leaves him with only 10st 4lb to shoulder.
Nicky Henderson has an excellent squad of novice hurdlers and his representative here, Indian Hawk, can take this jump in class in his stride.
A stamina-bred son of Westerner who changed hands for £110,000 after winning a point, Indian Hawk looked a smart recruit when surging clear on his debut under Rules on soft ground at Ludlow (2m5f) last month.
There was some depth to that maiden contest and I like the way the six-year-old strung out his field in a good time. Enniscoffey Oscar, an emphatic winner here last time, may give him most to think about.
Henderson holds the aces here, too, as he runs two in this novices’ event and it looks something of a tip in itself that Nico De Boinville rides Pacific de Baune instead of Santini.
Both horses won in good style on their debuts at Newbury but I was more taken by the selection, a grey who was strong at the finish when thumping 20 rivals over two miles.
That form has been franked by the third, Brianstorm, and he is open to plenty of improvement stepping up in trip.
L’Ami Serge is able to operate off a 7lb lower mark than over hurdles and is a predictably warm favourite, but his hold-up style invites misfortune and any horse who finishes runner-up in 11 of his 26 races comes with a wealth warning.
He is not the only well weighted runner in this race because Coologue, 18-1 with Bet365 and 16s elsewhere, is 3lb lower than when winning (over fences) at Cheltenham last season and has run some fine races at this track - including when splitting Ziga Boy and Buywise off a 2lb higher mark in this race two years ago.
Charlie Longsdon’s bold jumper disappointed on his return at Prestbury Park, when losing a shoe, but he usually goes well fresh and hopefully he will have been revived by a subsequent three-month break.
Longsdon has long stated the Grand National to be an aim for Coologue and needs to get him up the weights for Aintree to become a reality.
Le Patriote went straight into my Racing UK Tracker after his non-staying seventh in the Lanzarote a fortnight ago but this is also going to be quite a test and there has to be a chance it will come a bit quick for him.
One who looks to have been building up to something bigger is Clondaw Castle, a useful bumper performer who made it 2-3 over hurdles in comfortable style at Kelso last time and switches to handicaps off what looks a fair mark of 134.
This horse has a big engine, a good jumping technique and is bred to get farther even though he is not short of speed. Paddy Brennan is no longer Tom George’s number one rider but has finished first/second in nine of his 15 rides for the trainer this term.
If the afternoon punting has not gone to plan then I will be banking on Lacan to get me out of a hole in the evening.
He has tumbled in the weights in the past 12 months and after taking advantage at Kempton on his penultimate start, under Callum Shepherd, he looked unlucky not to follow up back at the Sunbury venue last time when he finished with plenty after being set too much to do.
Lacan is able to run off the same mark of 74 - he was operating off 88 this time a year ago - and Shepherd, not aboard last time, is reunited with him.
How To Bet £20 on Saturday:
2.05 Doncaster: £2 win Indian Hawk at a general 11-4
3.00 Cheltenham: £3 win Pacific De Baune at a general 3-1
3.15 Doncaster: Coologue £2 each-way at 18-1 with Bet365
35p Win Heinz on the six horses above
Select any odd to add a bet