THIS could be the best Saturday of racing before the Cheltenham festival begins and there are a couple of races at Haydock and Ascot in particular that are exciting, not least the Grand National Trial where you can make a case for all 9 runners.
We have discussed my selections on the Gambla Racing Podcast so have a listen if you can:
ON THE BLIND SIDE is fast becoming a favourite of mine. Fair play to Nicky Henderson who seems to be finding just the right races for the horse. He had to battle to win last time out and those sort of fighting qualities should stand him in good stead in this one. It's a trickier race but he looks to be the most likely winner for me and 7-2 is a very fair price.
There are two that I like in this race. The first is NEWTIDE who has had a wind operation after two poorer runs this season. I reckon he can bounce back and the market seems to agree – having opened up at 10-1 he has now been backed into 7-1.
My other selection is HILL SIXTEEN who was looking like a really impressive staying chaser until his last run where he bombed out. He is a much bigger price today so it's worth chancing him to return to top form. If he can do that he will go very close here.
This is a belter of a race and you can make a decent case for most of them. The one I like the most is ACHILLE for Venetia Williams. He was off the track for 18 months before his return last month where he ran incredibly well to finish 2nd with the front pair well clear of the rest. I think he is entitled to improve for that run and can go very close again here with conditions to suit and Charlie Deutsch making the trip north to Haydock when he also had the option to ride at Ascot.
The one I fancy for this is ARRIVEDERCI from the Jonjo O'Neill yard. He ran well in 2nd last time and I think he has plenty of scope to continue to improve. The stable clearly thinks a lot of him because he has been well supported in the market on each of his runs. I expect him to go close and with several firms paying 5 places each way he looks a good bet to at least make the frame.
12:30 Southwell - Race: 1
13:00 Southwell - Race: 2
13:20 Leopardstown - Race: 1