There's £50,000 up for grabs in Saturday's Paddy's Pick 5 game but, as ever, there's just the small matter of picking five winners to win a share of the huge jackpot! Harry Allwood has shared his picks for the five races this week and you can enter the competition below. Best of luck!
The Skeltons have enjoyed big-race success on the past couple of Saturday’s and look to hold strong claims of landing the Becher Chase this weekend with ASHTOWN LAD.
The eight-year-old caught the eye on a couple of occasions last season, including when third behind Ahoy Senor and Noble Yeats at Wetherby before shaping like a non-stayer in the Scottish Grand National. He did travel powerfully for a long way in the latter contest, though, and races off a 2lb lower rating here over a more suitable trip.
Dan Skelton, who has always held his son of Flemensfirth in high regard, is sure to have had this race in mind for some time, and a recent pipe-opener over hurdles at Aintree on his return to action should have him primed for this. The winner of that race, Remastered, was narrowly beaten in the Coral Gold Cup on his next outing, and Ashtown Lad certainly shaped as though the run was needed.
Based upon how the selection jumped fences last season, he looks tailor-made for the Grand National course, while the fact he likes to race prominently is a positive.
Love Envoi produced some strong form in novice hurdles at the top level last season and should have plenty more to offer with just seven starts under her belt. Starting life in handicaps off a rating of 139 makes things tougher for her, though, especially as this will be a stepping stone to bigger targets, and it may be wiser to side with HOMME PUBLIC who won a 0-140 handicap with a bit to spare on his return to action at Wetherby.
That looked a competitive race on paper and the drop back to two miles appears to have been the key to this youngster who won over the same trip at Newcastle on his final start last season after a string of below-par efforts over 2m3f on testing ground.
Conditions should be ideal on Saturday and while another career best will be needed to complete a hat-trick off a 7lb higher mark, Toby Wynne, who guided Homme Public to success at Newcastle, claims a handy 5lb.
Former Grade One winner RIDERS ONTHE STORM bounced back to form in style when landing the Old Roan Chase over this course and distance on his return to action and, given the second, Hitman, bolted up at Haydock on his next start and the third, GA Law, won the Paddy Power Gold Cup the following month, a 2lb rise for that victory looks lenient.
You could argue he does appear best fresh, especially as he failed to show any sort of form after running well on his return last season, but he picked up an injury at Cheltenham on his next start before his yard endured a quiet spell, so his below-par efforts are probably best excused.
He has held his form well in the past and if he is able to produce his best again here, then he could prove hard to beat, especially as this is a weaker race than the Old Roan Chase.
Gunsight Ridge looks an obvious danger following his victory at this track in November, and he ought to have more to offer during his second season over fences, while Brave Seasca has some strong form next to his name but may just need this outing on his first start since March.
It is no surprise to see Shishkin heading the betting here after he was declared on Thursday, with Nicky Henderson’s superstar 5lb clear of his nearest rival on ratings, but although he is the one to beat on form, it has to be a concern that he pulled up on his latest outing, and he arrives here with a bit to prove.
He also lacks a recent run, which can’t be said for GREANETEEN who looked as good as ever when carrying top weight to victory in the Haldon Gold Cup on his return to action and it may just pay to side with Paul Nicholls’ charge.
Greaneteen’s form figures over this course and distance read 2111 – all at Grade One level – and the ground is likely to be perfect for him on Saturday. The fact he has a recent run under his belt is a big positive, too, and he doesn’t have a huge amount to find with Shishkin on ratings.
Last season’s Arkle winner Edwardstone has a bit to find with the top two, and ideally wants more cut in the ground, so it is likely he will need Shishkin and Greaneteen to underperform if he is to get back to winning ways here.
Nicky Henderson has always held WALKING ON AIR in high regard and it was easy to see why when his youngster created a huge impression on his hurdling debut at Newbury in January. The form of that race has worked out well with the second and third winning their next starts, and a rating of 132 could easily underestimate the selection, given his potential.
Graded races are sure to have been discussed this season, but it isn’t a surprise that connections are keen to exploit a lenient mark in handicap company before he progresses to a higher level, especially as he lacks experience.
It is best to forgive his below-par effort at Grade One level last season as he endured an unsatisfactory preparation having been ruled out of the Cheltenham Festival due to a setback the month before.
It will be disappointing if he isn’t able to go close in this contest on his return, with the lack of a recent outing the only slight negative, but he did win following a 305-day break last season and Nicky Henderson has been operating at a strike-rate of 27 per cent in the past fortnight.
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