There are three interesting races to get our teeth into this weekend.
On Saturday Ffos Las stages the Welsh Champion Hurdle and Sandown hosts the Scilly Isles Novices Chase. Meanwhile, it’s over to Ireland on Sunday where the Tied Cottage Steeplechase takes place at Punchestown.
Read our big-race analysis and our free horse racing tips below:
Ffos Las, Saturday 2.05pm
The Welsh Champion Hurdle is run over 2-miles 4-furlongs and the ground may well be heavy come race-time. This shouldn’t bother likely top-weight Silsol, though, as he won under similar conditions at Newbury in November under 7lb claimer Jack Sherwood, who is likely to get the leg up again here after impressing on Royal Rebellion for Nicholls at Ascot a couple of Saturday’s ago.
However, I’d rather take a chance on Tanerko Emery whose handicap mark has come down to a winning one after a couple of poor runs. He was third behind Medinas in this race in 2013, and that rival has gone up 17lb in the ratings since. He’s also owned by the course owner Dai Walters and trained by local trainer Peter Bowen – and looks like he’s been plotted up to win this.
2.5 points each-way Tanerko Emery @ SP
Sandown, Saturday 2.25pm
There are ten possible entries for the Betfred Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase, a Grade One contest run over an extended two and a half miles, and many of the entries are likely to be seen at the Cheltenham Festival in either the novice chases or possibly the handicaps.
Splash Of Ginge, rated 153 after his win at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day, sets a decent standard for the others to reach, but many of them look up to the task.
Nicky Henderson saddles recent Doncaster winner Josses Hill, whilst Alan King’s Grumeti, the Paul Nicholls-trained Irish Saint, and Champagne West trained by Philip Hobbs top the list of possible dangers.
Willie Mullins also muddies the waters with three declarations, Jarry D’Honneur, Adriana Des Mottes and Gitane Du Berlais, and the latter two are set to get 11lb from the other runners.
Of the 5 main protagonists, only Splash of Ginge has failed to win right-handed, whilst Josses Hill and Grumeti have yet to prove their stamina over the 20-furlong trip – though the evidence against them is hardly conclusive enough to say for definite that they can’t be successful here.
Both Irish Saint and Champagne West should relish both the trip and the likely soft going, however I can’t split them and a reverse forecast is the value call.
1 point Reverse Forecast: Irish Saint and Champagne West
Punchestown, Sunday 3.10pm
The 2-mile Tied Cottage Steeplechase looks likely to be fought out between Hidden Cyclone and Twinlight, on the ratings, with Twinlight rated 3lb higher than his main rival, with a further 6lb to the next nearest challenger.
Twinlight is much preferred of the two protagonists though having won both times he’s encountered on heavy ground at Punchestown, whilst Hidden Cyclone fell on his only visit here.
3 points Twinlight @ 3/1
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