Feature Saturday races at Newbury and Doncaster are the Greatwood Gold Cup and the Betbright Grimthorpe Handicap, run at 3.15 and 3.35 respectively.
Horses who like to get their hooves in are most likely to succeed at both venues, so it’s surprising that at Doncaster the two at the head of the market are Definitly Red and The Last Samuri.
Although Brian Ellison’s charge did win its Bumper on heavy, all its best form is on better ground and, in any case, a handicap mark of 149 is surely beyond it.
Kim Bailey’s The Last Samuri won this race last year off 149 and is now asked to compete off 161, on ground it has only faced twice in its Pointing days, when it was beaten both times.
We look elsewhere for the value.
Finishing fourth in the race last year, beaten 17 lengths and now a stonking 23lbs better off was Sego Success, which is now down to a mark of 138 and can’t have it deep enough. Just seven runners, but a modest e/w punt on Alan King’s horse could pay off at a juicy-ish 8-1.
The Newbury feature has the admirable Oldgrangewood at the top of the market at around 3-1, but it could be that, after winning three from four, the dreaded handicapper has finally done it in and a mark of 143 will be beyond it.
Not so with the Fragrant Venetia representative Vic De Touzaine, which made a highly encouraging return to action at the beginning of last month, loves the mud and is still unexposed over fences. At 9-2 this is crying out for a decent e/w wager, especially with the stable in such blinding form.
‘So what’s the headline about?’ I hear you cry.
The Greatwood Veterans Handicap Chase at 2.05 at Newbury sees the 3rd run back after nearly two years off of Kim Bailey’s Harry Topper.
This 10-y-o achieved a rating of 161 at the end of 2014 and Mr Bailey chose the Welsh Grand National for the horse’s comeback race(!). Perhaps unsurprisingly that was too much to ask, but last time out Our Harry showed that the talent is still there when finishing like the 4.15 from Paddington to be a close fourth in a good handicap at Exeter.
Now off a mark of 144 and with the right ground and trip, this is too good to miss.
Wimps will go e/w at 9-2 – the more foolhardy among us will go ‘all in’ to win.
It’s your call.