RACING fan Graeme Johnston (@GraemeJ_83) picks out his best bet from Saturday’s racing.
14:10 Ayr | ITV1
The Future Champions Novices’ Chase is a small yet select field with five taking their chance and all are proven winners over the larger obstacles. Form from the big spring Festivals is on offer and this is a race that may well throw up a top class winner.
Cloudy Dream (9/4 Bet365) has had a great season and has been runner up in two Grade 1’s in the last five weeks. In my opinion, he is the best horse in the race however he has had two very hard races recently. He jumps well but I’m concerned by his run of seconds and the stable is a little quiet just now.
Flying Angel (2/1 Ladbrokes) beat Cloudy Dream last time out and he strikes me as an all-or-nothing performer. In six starts over fences he’s won three, pulled up, fell when well beaten and tailed off however his Cheltenham run was ruined mid-race by a faller. He’s also had a tough few weeks and this may be a step too far.
The one I really like here is the Paul Nichols-trained Clan Des Obeaux (3/1 Coral). A talented hurdler, he has been a little hit and miss over fences however on his day he is top class. His two wins and a narrow defeat to Whisper reads well and he comes here a lot fresher than his rivals.
The ground will be perfect and providing he gets in to a rhythm early on in think he will have too much at the business end here for his potentially weary rivals.
14:45 Ayr | ITV1
The Scottish Champion Hurdle is a fiercely competitive handicap and though it’s not as classy as the Cheltenham or Punchestown versions it’s a very good renewal. There is plenty of value on offer and I’m backing one at double-figure odds.
L’Ami Serge (8/1 Bet365) was second in the County Hurdle at Cheltenham and is top weight here. He is really consistent with placed efforts galore to his name however the lack of wins has to be a concern. His last win over hurdles was over two years ago and on ground quicker than ideal he looks vulnerable to me.
Mohaayed (13/2 Betfair) was further back in the County Hurdle but that was just his fourth start over hurdles and is clearly unexposed. An ex-flat horse this track may suit him better and it’s worth noting he didn’t settle properly at Cheltenham. If he settles better here he will run a very big race and has to be respected.
Chesterfield (14/1 Paddy Power) missed two years of racing after a heavy fall when looking like winning a Kempton hurdle and ran a promising race on his return at Ascot. He was well-fancied in the Lanzarote Hurdle before running poorly but he’s shown he retains all his talents with a hugely impressive win at Aintree last time.
He’s gone up in the weights however if you take that form literally he is an enormous price and I’m taking a chance on him reproducing that here.
15:05 Newbury | ITV1
The Greetham Stakes is one of the final trials for the 2000 Guineas and as ever there are plenty of unexposed exciting horses lining up from the big yards. There are a few here I’m looking forward to seeing and one of them is at a big price.
War Secretary (4/1 William Hill) represents Aidan O’Brien so given the firepower they possess he must be respected. His two wins have come on the all-weather and this will be a different test for him. He’s clearly talented but I suspect this is more a fact-finding mission rather than a confident bit of placing and I’m prepared to ignore him.
Godolphin are represented by two first time out maiden winners in Barney Roy (7/2 Betfred) and Dream Castle (10/3 Coral) and both look exciting. Barney Roy won at Haydock prompting Godolphin to purchase him however he is dropping back in trip here.
Dream Castle strikes me as the quicker of the two and looks a little more interesting of the pair here.
I’m taking a bit of chance here with one from a smaller stable in the shape of the David Menuisier-trained Make Time (16/1 SkyBet). Second on debut at Ascot, he was a comfortable winner of a Salisbury maiden where he looked a very good prospect.
He travels very well and has plenty of speed in his pedigree however he managed to win over seven furlongs as a juvenile. The trip looks ideal and to me he looks a bit overpriced here.
14:10 Ayr – Clan Des Obeaux (3/1 Coral).
14:45 Ayr – Chesterfield (14/1 each-way Paddy Power)
15:05 Newbury – Make Time (16/1 each-way SkyBet).
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