TV TIPS (SATURDAY)
Katkeau defied a 630 day lay off when winning at Cheltenham six weeks ago, he was very well backed that day but the form looks above average and he holds a good chance here. David Pipe’s lightly raced sort attempted to follow that victory up a week later but probably found the graded company a little hot, back in handicap company he is selected to regain the winning thread. Bygones Sovereign comes from the same stable as the selection, he rallied very gamely to win here last time but is difficult to predict. Wychwoods Brook is absolutely thrown in on chase form and he wants seriously watching in the market, his form this term has been poor though and whilst he is respected as the big danger, a market move would have to be a must before backing him.
Tingle Creek form is brought to the table in this and Hinterland fared best in that race having finished three lengths in front of Balder Succes and nine in front of Third intention. The Nicholls runner holds every chance today but has broken blood vessels in the past and is hard to trust on that basis. Balder Succes was probably a tad disappointing in the aforementioned Tingle Creek having been sent off favourite, he did make a few mistakes though and he is the most unexposed. Allan Kings course and distance winner looks a little like a small field bully to me and he is handed the vote as such, with only four to beat. Module has been slightly disappointing this term, he has some very smart form over this trip though and could surprise if in the mood.
Balder Succes (WIN)
Golden Doyen was beaten a head by Karezak here on his British hurdling debut, he has improved markedly since though and probably holds the King horse on a line through form from his last run. The Hobbs team are still in fine form and he appears a worthy favourite again today, the challengers are difficult to weigh up but we shall be taking the market leaders on. French import Bristol De Mai cut little ice in two bumpers but won on his first attempt over hurdles, the form of that is impossible to gauge but he has plenty of potential and is selected as an each way bet to nothing at the odds. Old Guard beat Karezak on his debut last time, he may improve to uphold the form but the handicapper has taken no chances and a reversal would be no surprise given only a neck separated the two.
Bristol De Mai (E/W if 5/1+)
A strong pace seems assured in this as a few like to lead, Tales Of Milan made all in impressive fashion over a marathon 3m 5f trip last time. He is a very likable sort and holds a decent chance of following up, the sharp 3m trip must be a worry though and this may also come a little too soon. Ballinvarrig has some very high class form but rarely wins, he would be a very big player if in the mood but as pointed out, his record is uninspiring. Rank outsider American Spin had no chance on his return from a lay off over hurdles last time, he has won around here though and although hard to trust entirely, his price is appealing in a very difficult race to weigh up.
American Spin (E/W)
This is as competitive looking as ever and a good deal of luck is required with twenty taking their chance. Mountainous took last seasons renewal off a three pounds lower mark, he beat Hawkes Point that day and the two have every chance of fighting it out again. Previous winners hardly have great records chasing the double up, but Richard Ford has his yard in good nick and his stable star can defy history and defend his crown. Shotgun Paddy was a decent novice and he improved bundles over marathon trips last term, a reproduction of his second over four miles at Cheltenham may well be enough but he must carry top weight and enthusiasm is dampened as such. Big market mover for this Woodford County looks all about stamina, he battled on bravely last time at Newbury and eventually got up late on. The handicapper has allowed him to sneak into near the bottom of the weights and whilst he must improve to win, he certainly has every chance of doing so and a big run is expected. Monbeg Dude hides no secrets from the handicapper and is prone to making shocking blunders, his fine fourth in the Hennessy was encouraging though and he will be held up off what will probably be a ferocious pace. There would be no more deserving winner than the Scudamore challenger and he is taken to run into the places at the very least. Plenty of others have chances but a selected few whom are interesting are Amigo, Benbens and the hat trick seeking Gas Line Boy.
Monbeg Dude (E/W)
A soft lead looks in the offing in this and whilst its hard to get carried away with any of them, Land Of Vic looks a likely sort to make it and is interesting on that count. Her form could be slightly better but she was a very good fifth against the boys at Cheltenham last time and reproduction maybe enough, despite being two pounds higher. Mayfair Music went for a walk in the market on her seasonal bow, she is a listed winner last season and is a player but market confidence would be a must given what happened the last day. Keshi Pearl tackles three miles for the first time, she was well held over half a mile shorter when last sighted but has plenty of scope and could be the dark horse. The issue with the likely favourite is her physical condition as she has clearly had an issue of some sort having been off the track for over a year, Lady Kathleen rarely wins but generally runs her race and is another to respect.
Land Of Vic (E/W if 5/1+)
The finale looks as competitive as any race of the day and most have something to recommend them on. Renard took last seasons renewal off a six pounds lower mark and has run some fine races already this term, including a decent sixth behind Oscar Time over the big fences at Aintree last time. The ground wont be any issue to Venetia Williams defending champion and he is taken to go in again, with plenty in his favour. Quincy Des Pictons was an emphatic winner of this race a few years back, his form is off putting but he comes from a yard who specialise in landing a touch, so market confidence would be very interesting. Fago rarely follows one good run up with another, he is very talented when on a good day though and double figure odds are very tempting for the Nicholls challenger. Deputy Dan is unexposed and improving, he needs to improve a good deal to beat these seasoned chasers but is entitled to respect and may figure.
Renard (E/W if 5/1+)
by Chris Connolly