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Saturday, 17 March 2018

Saturday 17th March

The Cheltenham Festival this week always looked set to deliver, despite concerns about the ground situation and small field sizes on Tuesday, but by no means did the home of National Hunt racing disappoint. Cheltenham can only last four days, and now we are back to normal working order with racing from Kempton and Uttoxeter being brought live to you by ITV4, the highlights being the Midlands National and the Silver Trophy.

1:50 Uttoxeter – Betfred St Patrick’s Day Mares’ Handicap Hurdle

This looks like a weak race on paper, and it is by no means going to produce the next Mares’ Hurdle winner, but on paper this still looks an open race. The obvious choice would be MOZO who was well beaten last time out over this course and distance by a horse who has ran admirably the last twice since. It looks as if she will be going off the short priced favourite after the latest performance, but another horse that could run well is Tara Well who has won recently at Leicester (albeit not in the strongest of races) but tries a tongue tie for the first time today which could bring around further improvement and she could run well here.

2:05 Kempton – Matchbook VIP Chase (A Novices’ Limited Handicap)

On paper, this seems like an open race despite there being only five runners and should provide an exciting race. COPAIN DE CLASSE has made a good start to chasing after finishing third behind Benetar who ran a fantastic race at Cheltenham this week and came back from a short break to win at Fontwell after his sole rival fell at the second fence. Deauville Dancer might be too high up in the handicap after winning three times in the Autumn, so the other one to look out for could be Vocaliser who has been placed in all of his races this season and looks likely to be able to continue that run of good form here.

2:25 Uttoxeter – Betfred Supports Jack Berry House Novices’ Handicap Chase

This looks like a strong contest for novices’, and the field is headed by Big River who beat Shantou Flyer (who finished second at Cheltenham this week) at Kelso last time out and looks set to come on from that, but it also burdens him with top weight so if he is to win this his class will have to show through. ANOTHER VENTURE has been running well this season, winning two on the bounce at Chepstow and Hereford, before finishing third behind Regal Encore and Minella Daddy where he finished in front of Vieux Lion Rouge. He looks capable of bouncing back here but by no means will this be an easy task.

2:40 Kempton – Matchbook Racing Is Commission Free Silver Plate Handicap Hurdle

Eleven horses look set to line up in this strong renewal of this race and this looks like a very open contest. KILDISART has seen a good run of form of late and ran a good race last time out. For an in-form team, he could very easily be in the mix here. The other runner that catches the eye is Django Django who has a low enough mark and a talented amateur to ride him – after winning a strong race two starts ago he can improve again to have a good each way shout here.

3:00 Uttoxeter – Betfred “Treble Odds On Lucky15’s” Handicap Hurdle

The ground at Uttoxeter will be heavy, with snow showers expected, and therefore in this race CLYNE should be kept on your side as despite being top weight he has very good form on soft and heavy ground behind the likes of The New One. The other standout is Fleminport who is an improving five year old and has won two on the bounce in novice company and is capable of improving further on his handicap debut.

3:15 Kempton – Matchbook Silver Bowl Handicap Chase

Favorito Buck’s won over course and distance last time out and could come on from that run again and Kilcrea Vale has been running well this season without quite hitting the mark, the same goes for Brandon Hill who is capable of running a big race for the places. COBRA DE MAI beat the talented Drumlee Sunset last time out and looks capable of improving from that again and still has a nice enough weight to carry – he could provide further big race success for Bridget Andrews and Dan Skelton after their triumph with Mohaayed at Cheltenham in the County Hurdle.

3:35 Uttoxeter – Betfred Midlands Grand National (An Open Handicap Chase) (Listed Race)

This is always a difficult race to call but this year the bottom weight, The Artful Cobbler, could be in with a good chance as he comes here after landing a hat trick at Lingfield last time out and looks certain to improve further and should handle the step up in trip. There are a number of horses at the top of the weights who also look in with a good chance including Hainan and Get On The Yager, but I think that Silsol is capable of running a big race for Paul Nicholls and Bryony Frost after staying on in the Welsh Grand National two starts ago.