Get the best bets from Tony Calvin, Kevin Blake and Kate Tracey as well as insight from Paul Nicholls and Joseph O’Brien for the pick of Saturday’s horse racing…
Paul Nicholls: “Miranda has been in the form of her life and won last time carrying top weight at Ludlow despite giving away twenty lengths at the start. She should be hard to beat.”
“There are very few horses in this race who look feasibly handicapped with conditions to suit. The only horse who may have plenty of mileage in his mark is Whatmore (Cheltenham, 13:55) who has been given 2lb back during his absence and runs here off a mark of 140. He posted an RPR of 149 last time out so provided he is fit and sharp for this return, he looks feasibly treated.”
“She won this Grade 2 Mares’ race stylishly a year ago and was due to run at Lingfield last weekend until she knocked herself. She was fine by Monday and cantered on Tuesday. While I’d have preferred softer ground for Miranda who is rated 146, she has been in the form of her life and won last time carrying top weight at Ludlow despite giving away twenty lengths at the start. She should be hard to beat.”
“Celestial Horizon progressed really well on the Flat last season, but was a little bit disappointing on his hurdling debut at Fairyhouse last month. His jumping was just ok on that occasion and we’ll be hoping for a better display in that regard in this. If he can jump better, he will hopefully progress enough to get involved in the finish.
“Trained by Nicky Henderson, Chantry House showed top-class form when racking up a hat-trick over fences prior to his King George flop, ending last season with a pair of Grade 1 wins in novice company at Cheltenham and Aintree before making the most of a good opportunity on his reappearance at Sandown in December, seeing off his sole rival with the minimum of fuss.
“The extra emphasis on stamina here should play more to the strengths of Chantry House than Kempton did, and he also appeals as the type to benefit from the application of cheekpieces.
“This looks a good opportunity for him to get his career back on track before a potential tilt at the Gold Cup.”
“I don’t think there is much doubt Debece is better than his current mark of 135, for all he is an 11yo now, and hopefully a wind op since his last start has helped, too. To put it mildly, he wasn’t given an optimal ride when second to Fortescue on his debut for Dan Skelton at Sandown last season – it was a proper Barry Crocker, in truth – and he still remains well treated, despite going up 5lb for the run. The winner ran a cracker when third off a 15lb higher mark in the Peter Marsh last Saturday. And I think he will love this ground.”
“North Lodge, the well-bred five-year-old (half-brother to Winter Escape and out of a bumper winning half-sister to Black Jack Ketchum), was set a tough task on his racecourse debut against previous winners in a novices’ hurdle at Aintree, but he overcame his inexperience to grind out a narrow victory.
“His jumping was a bit novicey in places, but one would hope there should be plenty of improvement to come in that and indeed all other areas given his inexperience.
That Aintree form got a bit of a boost last weekend too with the third home Richmond Lake finishing second to Jonbon in a Grade 2 novice hurdle at Haydock. This longer trip should suit him and he is a very interesting contender.”
Saturday 29 January, 3.40pm
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