It’s a three-pronged attack for the Channel 4 Racing cameras on Saturday afternoon, with mixed Flat and Jumps action from Aintree, Doncaster and Newbury providing a little bit of something for everyone.
Yours truly be stationed in the betting jungle at Town Moor in Doncaster, with the feature Group 1 Racing Post Trophy the highlight of an enticing seven race card.
Three times in four seasons the prize has gone to Aidan O’Brien and his team, courtesy of St Nicholas Abbey in 2009, Camelot in 2011 and Kingsbarns 12 months ago.
Unsurprisingly he provides three of the 11 declarations, with Buonarroti, Century and Johann Strauss flying the flag for Ballydoyle.
Century looks the number one pick, given he’s ridden by Joseph O’Brien and shed his maiden tag in the same race won by the stable’s subsequent Irish Guineas winner Magician.
What’s more, he’s got a similar profile to last year’s winner Kingsbarns, who took this a fortnight after winning a maiden.
For those reasons Century will have plenty of admirers as his bids to give his trainer win number eight in the race since 1997, but the level of opposition is predictably tough.
Soft ground lies in wait, a situation that prompted Richard Hannon to prefer Chief Barker to Toormore at the 48 hour declaration stage.
Chief Barker is unbeaten in three starts, and is thought to relish Soft ground, though his win in the listed Betfred TV Stakes last time out came on Good to Soft.
Johnny Murtagh is enjoying a dream start to combining training with riding, notably with Royal Diamond at Ascot last weekend, and relies on Beresford Stakes third Altruistic.
Sir Michael Stoute fields Snow Sky, but the Nayef colt has a mountain to climb on ratings, despite hacking up by 11 lengths at Salisbury on Heavy ground last time out.
More convincing are the chances of the Mark Johnston-trained Somewhat, a tough and street wise son of Dynaformer who won the Washington Singer at Newbury in August, before stepping up to a mile for the first time when narrowly worn down by the classy Berkshire in the Group 2 Royal Lodge at Newmarket.
He’ll have his fans, as will Roger Varian’s unbeaten Kingston Hill.
If anything, he’s maybe shading favouritism at the time of writing in a tight betting heat, but it’s not hard to see why when you weigh up his debut win over seven furlongs at Newbury (Soft ground), before a business-like transition to a mile as he took the Group 3 Autumn Stakes with a fair bit up his sleeve.
Surprisingly Kingston Hill doesn’t hold a Derby entry at this stage, but one who does is the Godolphin horse Pinzolo.
Trained by Charlie Appleby, this fella is generally 16/1 for Epsom next June after making a real stir in two racecourse appearances to date.
Firstly he had stablemate Sudden Wonder in his pocket on debut at Newmarket in August, defying greenness to stride out the length and a half winner over the mile trip.
Interestingly, that was the very same race won by a certain Frankel three years previously – big boots to fill!
Since then Pinzolo built on his debut, running on very strongly late on to bag the Haynes, Hanson and Clark at Newbury, with Soft ground bringing out the best in him.
That display prompted connections to supplement him for this end of season Group 1, a decision which may well pay handsome dividends.
Sudden Wonder boosted the Newmarket form by winning on Wednesday, and trainer Charlie Appleby has been open in his praise for Pinzolo: “you don’t come across horses like him very often!”
The track should suit him, the ground won’t be an issue, and we know for certain he’ll stay every inch.
For those reasons, the 9/2 available with either Paddy Power or William Hill looks well worth a try.
Doncaster is all very well, but it’s that time of the year when the scarves and gloves come out of hibernation for the National Hunt enthusiasts…
I know I am, and if you’ll pardon the link then console yourself with a few quid on Gary Moore’s Fruity O’Rooney in the Betfred Mobile Sports Veterans’ Handicap Chase at Aintree (2.30pm).
Now eligible to run in veterans’ chases (only open to horses aged 10+), this guy has never run at Liverpool before, but has posted a string of good efforts at the likes of Ascot, Cheltenham, Doncaster and Kempton in the last couple of years, notably a second in the JLT Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in 2012.
He signed off the 2012/13 season with a win at Fontwell, and recently benefitted from a pipe opener when down the field over an insufficient 2m 2f at the same track 22 days ago.
He shrewd trainer got him dropped a couple of pounds to a mark of 138 after that, which when combined with son Josh’s three pound claim takes him back below his last winning mark.
Fruity O’Rooney is a 3/1 chance with either Betfred or William Hill.
The big race at Aintree (live on C4) is the Betfred Monet’s Garden Old Roan Chase, a contest in which it’s not hard to envisage a huge display from Alan King’s Walkon.
A 204 day absence from the track should be no hindrance given that he made waves when second in the Paddy Power Gold Cup on his first outing of the season a year ago.
Without winning he held his form too, signing off with a fine second in the Topham at Aintree in April.
Aged eight, this could be the season it all comes together for Walkon over fences, and he can kick off with a win in the Old Roan.
The 5/1 with the race sponsors is the place to shop.
Finally, a quick look at the weekend football:
West Bromwich Albion travel to Anfield to play Liverpool unbeaten in five league games.
The Baggies boast the best defensive record outside the top six, and did the double over the scousers last season, winning 2-0 at Anfield in February.
They’ve only conceded six league goals all season, and look massive at 7/1 with any of bet365, Betfred or Paddy Power.
Elsewhere, Arsenal look set to fill their boots against rudderless Crystal Palace, and could be wort following giving up a two goal start on the handicap, with quotes around 5/2 for the free scoring Gunners to win by three or more.
Lastly, making hay at the top of League One, backing Leyton Orient has been a bit like paying a visit to the cash machine for punters this season, with the London side winning 10 out of 12 to date.
Hopefully they’ll bury Rotherham at Brisbane Road, with BetVictor prepared to offer us a generous 21/20 about that eventuality.
Saturday’s best bets:
2.30 Aintree – Betfred Mobile Sports Veterans’ Handicap Chase – 2 Fruity O’Rooney (win) @ 3/1 (Betfred or William Hill)
3.05 Aintree – Betfred Monet’s Garden Old Roan Chase (Ltd Handicap) – 4 Walkon (win) @ 5/1 (Betfred)
3.50 Doncaster – Racing Post Trophy – 8 Pinzolo (win) @ 9/2 (Paddy Power or William Hill)
Posted 5 years ago