Lingfield 14:25
A Class 4 handicap over two miles is where we find our first selection today. Annie Alainn arrives here with the best recent form on offer having notched up a hat-trick late last year but all these came in Class 5’s and he was well held off his new mark when stepped up in to Class 4 company last time out so may struggle again today having only been eased 1lbs.
Dormouse has recorded three wins and a close second from four attempts over course and distance, all on heavy ground. One of these came in a Class 3 off a mark of 114 and another came in a Class 4 off a mark of 117 so even though his recent form hasn’t been anything special a return to a course he excels at off a mark of 105 looks too big an opportunity to pass up.
Although the early favourite is Darwins Theory he’s gone up 4lbs for a second over course and distance last time out so the biggest danger looks to be Sea Wall who won off today’s mark over course and distance in December 2015 and has since won on heavy ground at Taunton over today’s trip off a 4lbs higher mark.
DORMOUSE (E/W if 9/2+) – NAP

Lingfield 16:30
Up Four It showed great battling qualities to beat the highly regarded Barney From Tyanee by almost two lengths over course and distance earlier this month, with third a further three lengths behind. That was his first win in eighteen career runs but with the majority of this twelve-strong field arriving with little or no recent form to speak of he looks capable of defying a 5lbs rise and recording a quickfire double.
At the time of writing Landscape had seen something of a gamble, being backed in from 10/1 in to second favourite. He does have winning form on heavy ground but that was when gaining his last victory in December 2012. He was beaten by 52 lengths over course and distance on penultimate run and was pulled up last time out so would need to show vast improvement to get involved.
Sea The Springs is yet to race on heavy ground and hasn’t shown much on soft ground either but has placed on a couple of occasions including one over today’s trip and could be an interesting runner with Richard Johnson booked to ride.

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Pundit Race Selection Bet
Chris Connolly - - -
Dean Kilbryde - - -
Graeme Lafferty - - -
Karl Hedley - - -
Matthew Kirby - - -
Rory Paddock 20:00 Dundalk Bittern E/W


14:00 Southwell
This hinges entirely on how much ability Pearl Nation retains and how fit he is today, having been off the track since flopping badly at Chelmsford last April. Often hit and miss he couldn’t be relied upon entirely but as a dual winner in Class2 company here, he really ought to take advantage of what is a massive drop in grade. Retrieve has been off for almost 2 years and is another with obvious questions hanging over him, good enough to win a Listed race at Newmarket in 2012 he also went on to win a Listed Musselburgh hurdle before injury struck. From the in form Jamie Osborne yard its hard to envisage him not going off favourite but it is worrying he’s been sent here and it would be brave to pile on him at short odds. Vivat Rex has form figures of 1 1 3 here and could upset the aforementioned pair, he has hardly been pulling up trees lately however and an each way price would be needed. Regarde Moi is interesting given he was such a prolific winner in his native Italy (21 wins) he has been a little disappointing in two claimers here though and would need to improve a fair bit to win. The rest are impossible to fancy and so with the two class2 victories in mind, a chance will be taken on Pearl Nation being fit enough to upset Retrieve.

15:40 Southwell
Satchville Flyer probably ran better than his finishing position (6th, over 6f) suggested here last time as a few of them rivals were in good form and he was making good headway at the death. With an extra furlong today he should have this run to suit and is selected to nail them all late in the day. Cadeaux Pearl hasn’t tasted victory since 2015 though that success was here and he ran well enough when just chinned over 6f here the last day. Scott Dixons challenger is likely to adopt the front running tactics today and he should be playing a part, quite whether he will hang on is open to debate but he is respected as having a favourites chance. Clever Divya caused a massive upset when winning here over 6f last month at 50/1, before that she had shown very little so today will likely silence or strengthen the idea of that being a fluke. Arcanista has shown enough to suggest she can win a race and is in the care of Richard Hughes. Should she be heavily backed she would make massive appeal, she does have to prove her effectiveness for this surface however and is passed over as such. Limerick Lord has won here and will probably be running on at the end, his mark makes him a player but the trip looks a little short. Trust Me Boy won this last season off a 1lb higher mark, since then he’s flopped on too many occasions to consider for win purposes but he too has chances if on song. Secret Glance is another with a big claim and his 3rd here last time offered encouragement, the presence of fellow front runners is a little off putting however and there will be easier tasks.

Written by Chris Connolly

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Daily NAP’s:

Rory Paddock – Borough Boy (E/W) 15:05 Southwell



13:40 Fontwell
Although seven look set to go to post it’s fair enough to say that it looks a two horse race.
Solighoster and Bolving set the standard and it’s hard to look anywhere else.
Of the two I have to go with the Noel Fehily ridden contender who looks marginally more consistent than his market rival.
Of the rest of the pack both Versifer and Jeds Gamble could out run their large odds but sadly with only places for the first two home I think it’ll be difficult to separate the leading market duo.

15:10 Fontwell
Sticking with Fontwell and it’s interesting to note Champion Jockey Richard Johnson doesn’t have many rides today but comes to the meeting to ride the Phillip Hobbs trained St Saviour.
When headgear was applied on his penultimate start he did well so I’m hoping the application of blinkers will bring about improvement. Not the most consistent runner but 8/1 looks quite a generous price we should get stuck into.
Noel Fehily is a jockey that I’m a huge fan of and the fact he rides the favourite can’t be ignored. He looks to be on the most likely winner and I couldn’t put you off backing him I just hope we’ve found a decent rival at a much better price.

Written by Rory Paddock

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Cheltenham 13:10
We begin today’s mammoth nine race ITV4 bonanza at Cheltenham with a Grade 3 handicap chase and thirteen runners to work our way through. Saphir Du Rheu was a top class hurdler and won his first two over the larger obstacles but has largely disappointed since and fell last time out so doesn’t look to be one to put the utmost of faith in.
Shantou Flyer arrives on the back of an impressive course and distance victory where he beat a couple of today’s rivals. He has been raised 7lbs but has an excellent record both over todays’ trip and at Cheltenham and looks sure to be in the mix.
Aso is another hit with a 7lbs rise for a win last time out but would perhaps prefer more testing conditions and is yet to win in four attempts at Cheltenham, while Walk In The Mill has won his last two and has made the frame in seven of his nine career runs to date but has been upped a huge 12lbs so preference is for Thomas Crapper.
Robin Dickins’ ten year old was only fifth behind Shantou Flyer last time out but meets his rival with a 9lbs swing and is now 3lbs below his last winning mark. He should appreciate the expected better ground conditions and has ran some excellent races at Cheltenham in the past, winning twice and placing three times from twelve runs. With winning form over the trip an good course form to boot he looks a decent each way option in a competitive opening to today’s tv races.
Thomas Crapper (E/W if 9/2+)

Doncaster 13:35
Our first visit to Doncaster sees ten go to post for a Grade 2 over three miles, with seven of the ten runners arriving on the back of a win last time out. Happy Diva has been very impressive in recent weeks, following up an effortless eighteen length victory at Fontwell on Boxing Day with a similarly impressive display when upped to three miles at Wetherby eleven days later. Today’s race is an obvious step up in class but Kerry Lee had a lot of success around this time last year with big Saturday winners so here runner can’t be dismissed here.
Nicky Henderson has a 47% winning strike rate in the last three years with his runners over hurdles at Doncaster and he sends unbeaten Constantine Bay in an effort to maintain this record. He won on debut, beating five subsequent winners, and was a convincing winner when last seen at Chepstow earlier this month. He takes a step up in class, a step up in distance and has so far only encountered soft and heavy ground so with three possible unknowns he is passed over today.
Paul Nicholls also has an excellent record with his runners here at Doncaster with six winners from fourteen in the last twelve months and also sends an unbeaten runner for this race. Give Me A Copper has won a point-to-point, a bumper, and opened his account for the yard with a fourteen length victory at Exeter in December. With no concerns over stamina and impressive victories to date he is the selection here.
Give Me A Copper (WIN)

Cheltenham 13:45
We return to Cheltenham for the third live tv race, with a Willie Mullins trained hot favourite at the head of the market and just seven scheduled runners meaning just two places on offer. Un De Sceaux won this race last year and returned this season with an impressive victory in the Tingle Creek in December. He will likely be in many multiple bets across the land and in truth should be too strong for his rivals here, yet odds of around 8/15 mean I am forced to look for a bit more value.
Many will opt for Special Tiara as the obvious choice to chase home the favourite and with Grade 1 victories next to her name its not difficult to see why. However, since taking up chasing she has finished third more than twice as many times as she has finished second and in five runs at Cheltenham her best finishing position is third, so with this in mind its worth looking elsewhere.
Top Gamble has an excellent record over fences having won six and making the frame in four from a total of thirteen runs. He seemingly prefers softer ground so connections will likely be hoping for plenty of rain and is another who has had a few runs here at Cheltenham with third being his best result so is another passed over today.
Instead I am opting for Uxizandre who, although is returning from a near two year absence, was last seen winning the Ryanair Chase in 2015 and has an excellent record at Cheltenham with two wins and a second from three runs. Furthermore, jockey Barry Geraghty was on board for his course and distance success and has a 58% winning strike rate when riding for Alan King over the last twelve months so looks worthy of a small each way play against the short-priced favourite.
Uxizandre (E/W)

Cheltenham 14:15
Staying at Cheltenham we have another hot favourite and just two places up for grabs. We also have two returning winners as Many Clouds once again locks horns with Smad Place. May Clouds won this race in 2015 but these positions were reversed last year with Smad Place winning by twelve lengths. Smad Places’ trainer Alan King has the better recent form and has the better record at Cheltenham, however slight preference of the two would be for Many Clouds given his victory on re-appearance at Aintree in December.
Silviniaco Conti was only four lengths behind Thistlecrack in the King George when last seen and has an excellent record over the trip but always seems to disappoint at Cheltenham, while Kylemore Lough proved himself at Grade 1 level with a victory in the Ryanair Gold Cup Novice Chase at Fairyhouse last March but is yet to prove he stays this trip so with no stand out each way option we return to the heavy favourite Thistlecrack.
Colin Tizzard’s early Gold Cup favourite is unbeaten since going over the larger obstacles and has improved his jumping with each of his four chase victories, proving himself at the highest level with a win in the King George on Boxing Day. He has an excellent record at Cheltenham and has won six from seven over the trip so despite the short odds cannot be opposed.
Thistlecrack (WIN)

Cheltenham 14:50
Enda Bolger has an excellent record in cross-country chases at Cheltenham, having won the cross-country race at the festival five times since its inception in 2005, so any runner he sends to these races requires plenty of respect. He sends two here today with Cantlow at the head of the market and Auvergnat available at at early each way odds. Cantlow is proven over course and distance and has won his last two but has a 7lbs rise to contend with and at the prices my preference is for Auvergnat who ran an excellent race when just five lengths behind Cantlow, on what was his first attempt on a cross-country track, when third over course and distance in December. With that experience under his belt and improvement likely, he looks to be the one to follow.
Valadom has made the frame over course and distance and could have a slight fitness advantage over some rivals having finished a respectable second in a hurdle race at the start of the month. He has made the frame in one from three over course and distance and completed all three, although in truth was never troubling the leaders and looks more likely to be battling for minor honours.
Cause Of Causes has a good record here at Cheltenham but has disappointed since winning the Kim Muir at the festival last year while Any Currency is also respected but at fourteen years of age isn’t getting any younger.
Auvergnat (E/W if 9/2+)

Doncaster 15:05
Another race with a Willie Mullins short priced fave, this time Vroum Vroum Mag. The eight year old had looked unbeatable over both hurdles and fences and over any trip from two to three miles before being out-battled by a race-fit Apples Jade on seasonal re-appearance at Fairyhouse in December, however looked back to her best when winning the Christmas Hurdle later on that month. Today’s race looks easier on paper and the drop back to two miles shouldn’t cause any problems but the bookies have her priced up accordingly which means she isn’t really a betting proposition.
Instead we will opt for Coillte Lass who is unbeaten in three since joining Paul Nicholls and was a ready winner of a listed contest at Taunton when last seen. She looks to have both the strongest form and progressive profile of the rest of the field and therefore is taken as an each way option with five runners meaning a second placed effort should pay more than backing the favourite to win.
Midnight Jazz is also worthy of a mention having won on only previous visit to Doncaster and has made the frame in eight from ten over a two mile trip.
Coillte Lass (E/W)

Cheltenham 15:25
This looks to be a fascinating renewal with a number of runners looking to have good chances here. Alan King has won this race three times in the last five years, twice returning odds of over 10/1, so his entry Keep In Line is an interesting runner. A winner of his first two races over hurdles, he has since ran well in defeat in a couple of Grade 2’s and wouldn’t need too much improvement to get involved.
Elegant Escape showed great battling qualities when winning his first two over hurdles although was outclassed in a Grade 1 last time out, while William Henry returned from an eighteen month absence with an excellent second here at Cheltenham in December and followed up in convincing fashion with a seven length victory on New Years Eve but is unproven over this longer trip.
Kimberlite Candy and Topofthegame both step up in class looking to keep their respective unbeaten records intact, with preference of the two being for Tom Lacey’s Kimberlite Candy, but in such a competitive looking Grade 2 race I am opting for Wholestone who has won over todays’ trip, has won two from three at Cheltenham and is proven at this level having won a Grade 2 when last seen in December.
Wholestone (E/W if 9/2+)

Doncaster 15:40
Ballyboker Breeze has won four from seven over similar trips to what he encounters today and since falling on debut has since finished in the first three places in all ten runs. He has won two from three over fences since joining Nicky Richards and looks to be progressing well so looks a decent each way option at early double figure odds.
Early favourite Bigbadjohn won a point-to-point earlier in his career so there should be no concerns over stamina. He has won one and placed once from three since going over fences and looks sure to be in the mix however early prices of around 4/1 look a little short considering the opposition.
Southfield Royal won over course and distance in a Grade 2 in December 2015 and has made the frame in 60% of all runs over a three mile trip. He hasn’t been seen since April 2016 but has won on return from a break in the past and with Neil Mulholland firing in the winners in recent weeks his mount is respected.
A final mention must go to Ziga Boy who won this race last year and has made the frame in all three previous runs over course and distance. He is 4lbs higher here and it does look a slightly tougher race but even so he cannot be entirely discounted.
Ballyboker Breeze (E/W)

Cheltenham 16:00
We finally arrive at the last of an incredible nine races live on ITV4 and get to see the Harry Fry trained Uknowwhatimeanharry once again take on Nigel Twiston-Davies’ runner Ballyoptic. They have locked horns twice in the last couple of months with Uknowhatimeanharry emerging victorious on both occasions. Unbeaten in seven races since joining the Fry yard and seemingly improving with each run, the nine year old is once again taken to come out on top especially when considering Ballyoptic has fallen twice in his last three runs.
Kotkikova could only manage fifth in the Christmas hurdle but that was his first run since April 2016 and that race has since produced the first, second and third in a Grade 2 at Gowran Park earlier this week so the form looks pretty strong. He has won ten of his thirteen career runs so obviously has a lot of ability and should be fitter for his comeback run so looks a decent each way option at early double figure odds.
Of the remainder, Old Guard has won three from five at Cheltenham but takes a big step up in trip for today’s race while Reve De Sivola has won and placed in this race previously but has been well beaten by Uknowhatimeanharry twice in recent months and has done nothing to suggest he is capable of reversing that form here.
Uknowhatimeanharry (WIN)
Kotkikova (E/W)


Written by Dean Kilbryde



15:55 Doncaster
This 2m7f novices chase sees a horse who has gone somewhat under the radar in the RSA Chase picture for the Paul Nicholls team. The horse in question is Aux Ptits Soins and this five runner contest looks the ideal chance for him to further enhance his reputation before a possible tilt at the 3-mile showpiece for novices at the festival. The horse already has a high profile victory over this sort of trip in the hurdling sphere after taking the 2015 Coral Cup at the Cheltenham festival, but he did not have the easiest transition to fences this year after a disappointing round of jumping cost him dearly on his debut over the larger obstacles. He was beaten by Drumlee Sunset that day over an inadequate 2m3f, but soon left that form well behind when storming to a smooth victory at Kelso last time out over today’s trip. In-form Rider Sean Bowen only enhances the case and he will take all the stopping here today so gets the confident nod.
Alan King’s Kerrow would be the principle danger to the selection after a smart success at Taunton over today’s trip and like the selection that was only his second start over fences so not unreasonable to expect further progress so he should get involved in the shakeup, but he was a distance inferior to the selection over hurdles so up against it here with that rival off level weights.
Nicky Henderson’s runners are always worth taking a second look at and premier bond is another with potential over fences. Second behind his talented stable mate Might Bite on chasing debut before relishing the step up in trip by romping to success at Catterick, but again has a bit to find with the selection.

17:45 Newcastle
The very unique all weather track at Newcastle has brought up so many repeat winners since its switch to synthetic surface from grass a few years ago, so it is often wise to look for well treated horses with track experience and success in its locker. John Quinn’s four-year-old Safe Voyage arrives here without a penalty for a course and distance success six days ago in apprentice race so he looks very much the one to beat in this field. The talented rider Jason Hart takes over in the saddle and the son of Fast Company is significantly less exposed than most of today’s rivals so he gets the confident nod to get straight back in the winner’s enclosure again.
The hat-trick seeking Custard the Dragon is the likely danger here as he looks to rattle up a quick treble, but that latest success over today’s trip was a career best for John Mackie’s gelding so he might find it tough to live with the selection especially given he has struggled on the track previously.
An interesting contender is Ruth Carr’s Lexington Times who has ran to higher marks in the past and has came tumbling dow the weights recently. The five year old ran with credit off this mark last time out, but hasn’t put his head in front in an incredible 22 races.

Written by Graeme Lafferty

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14:35 Warwick
Ballywilliam is worth another chance on ground that he will love. He was pulled up on what was quite tacky ground at Newbury last time and that was his first outing in almost eight months.
Tom Scudamore takes the reins this afternoon as the seven year old bids for a third win from just eight career starts. The slight step up in trip ought to be more of an inconvenience to others rather than him and with the yard back amongst the winners of late, he has to rank high on any shortlist.
Court Frontier won for the first time in just over a year last time on bottomless ground at Chepstow. He pulled some eight lengths clear of Allchilledout suggesting there was more to come. Again the further he went the better he looked so despite the extra yardage today he looks the biggest threat. Godsmejudge sneaks in at the foot of the handicap and has won on heavy ground before. Partnered by Aiden Coleman this afternoon the duo are also likely to make the frame.
BALLYWILLIAM  (E/W if 9/2+) – (NAP)

15:10 Warwick
Grand Vision ran well for such a long way when well backed at Kelso last time. That was his seasonal reappearance and was his first run in almost ten months. The ground should not pose too many problems for this eleven year old veteran and today’s jockey has plenty of experience on board. Colin Tizzard has his yard in excellent form and the generally consistent sort has made the frame in fourteen of his nineteen career starts.
Dolatulo just got the better of the selection last time and probably should have won the race. Instead he had to settle for second place due to a completely amateur ride from his jockey. With the same pilot on board this afternoon backers will be anxious but he still rates as the likeliest danger. Pearlysteps is as versatile as they come and with eight career wins under his belt he is certainly no slouch. With stamina proven over further he too commands plenty of respect.

Written by Karl Hedley


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Daily NAP’s:

Dean Kilbryde – Dino Velvet (WIN) 12:55 Warwick

Chris Connolly – Heavy Metal (WIN) 17:25 Meydan

Rory Paddock – Zed Candy Girl (E/W) 20:30 Wolverhampton



14:30 Catterick
This Handicap Hurdle focuses around two decent types. Jaleo is back out after he came to grief at the first flight in the Lanzarote Hurdle. He had previously looked to relish the step up to this trip when winning over it at Lingfield last month after a break. The five year old adds some class to the race and should be suited by the conditions.
However, Jaleo gives plenty of weight to the improving four year old Nietzsche, who in effect is just 1lb higher for his recent Market Rasen success. That effort was completed with the minimum of fuss and Brian Ellison’s charge has previous course form against a useful yardstick in Project Bluebook to suggest he has more to offer. With him out just a week after that win he must have come out of the race well and ready to strike once more before the handicapper reassesses his mark. Ellison does have his eye on a bigger target down the line in the Fred Winter but this Catterick course will give him a test that he can answer.
Italian Riviera has done well of late for Kenneth Slack and enjoys it around this track. Three visits her have seen three wins, with two over today’s trip – one of them came 13-days ago. He steps up in class for this contest and may not have the same quality of the other pair but this former Sir Mark Prescott inmate will give his usual run.

16:45 Newcastle
A Mile Handicap for apprentices that looks an open affair given the market has opened at 5/1 the field.
The one that stands out is Mount Cheiron for Richard Ford. The six year old did incredibly well to finish a close up third at Wolverhampton 11-days ago after being drawn in the widest stall and riding wide all the way around. He’s on the same mark here as he was that day and a reproduction of that form under his usual pilot Callum Rodriguez would see him go very close. He has won here before over further, so if these went off too quickly it could fall into his lap.
Afkar is the one that could set this up from the front under the very capable hands of Lewis Edmunds. He’s well handicapped on old form but recent attempts at this trip have seen him beaten a long way and all three career wins have been over a seven furlong trip, so this nine year old for me looks vulnerable, especially if going off in the lead.
Justice Pleasing returns here at a poor showing at Southwell last time. Dropped 1lb by the handicapper and with Ben Sanderson claiming 7lb he’s running with a off a low weight, so could bounce back into some sort of form. The four year old is a well-bred type by Kodiac and should be better than a 55-rated horse. Roger Fell’s recent runners haven’t gone particularly well, which would be a worry but could easily return to form back at Gosforth Park.

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There are no additional Naps today.