THE weekend has landed and there's no shortage of Saturday racing for punters to lap up.
Six meetings offer plenty of betting opportunities and Alan has seven picks spread across Kelso, Newbury and Lingfield.
THERE is some juicy prize-money on offer at Kelso and some of the big southern yards have crossed the border in search of rich pickings. Harry Fry’s WINSTON C showed a smart turn of foot to scythe down Beaufort West at Sandown in early February and this former decent middle-distance Flat handicapper should be suited by a test of speed on this sharp hurdles track.
RONS DREAM fell last time but that was a rare blemish. The mare stayed on well to finish fourth to Elegant Escape in the Coral Welsh Grand National at Chepstow, so this 3m 2f test should suit Peter Bowen’s stayer.
CAPTAIN DRAKE could make it a red-letter day for Fry in the 3m 1f handicap hurdle (he looks fairly certain to provide Noel Fehily with a fairytale farewell winner on Get In The Queue at Newbury). Captain Drake is on a hat-trick following victories at Southwell and Uttoxeter, and wins a narrow vote over the Paul Nicholls-trained Worthy Farm, successful at Ascot on the back of a disappointing effort at Cheltenham in mid-December.
There is a good card at Newbury and FRIEND OR FOE made a winning debut for Paul Nicholls at Taunton, making all the running. The four-year-old missed an engagement at Cheltenham to wait for this 2m 3f Juvenile Handicap Hurdle. The Knot Is Tied should go well at a tasty each-way price. He has finished runner-up on his last three starts, leading two out at Sandown last time before being reeled in.
The EBF & TBA Mares’ Final is always a keenly-contested event and northern raider OFF THE HOOK (3.15) could cause a surprise. Nick Alexander has made a name for himself in recent seasons and Off The Hook looked a strong stayer when landing a maiden at Ayr.
She also kept on into third at Haydock behind two smart sorts in Queenohearts and Danse Idol, and will go off at attractive each-way odds against more fashionable stables.
EXECUTIVE FORCE has been a money-making machine on the all-weather since opening his account on the first day of February. Michael Wigham’s gelding has mopped up five wins from six starts and can make his first visit to Lingfield a winning one in the mile handicap.
There is a danger the assessor will eventually nail him, but hold-up performer Executive Force, under regular jockey Franny Norton, should get a good tow into the race from the likes of free-running course and distance winner Sha La La La Lee.
STONE OF DESTINY catches the eye in the Betway Casino Handicap. Andrew Balding’s four-year-old ran out of his skin to finish fourth in last season’s Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot and James Doyle has been booked.
Stall two is a handy slot and Stone Of Destiny has solid all-weather form to back-up his turf exploits, including a third to very speedy Kachy and Gorgeous Noora here over six furlongs. Today’s five furlongs may be just on the sharp side but they look sure to go off like scalded cats, with Stone of Destiny arriving fast and late.