TV TIPS (SATURDAY)
Course specialist Levitate took this last season off a three pounds lower mark and did so in decisive fashion, he’s a former Lincoln winner here too and soft ground is key to him. He ran his best race of the season when fourth behind the highly progressive Bronze Angel last time and looks to have been laid out for this, with everything in his favour and trading at around 6/1 he is very difficult to oppose and really ought to go very close. Jamaican Bolt did me a huge favour here last time when winning over 6f, he has to prove he really wants this test over an extra furlong but he has chances if getting the trip. Others with chances are Withernsea and Athletic but neither look as assured as the Quinn challenger and can only be respected.
Levitate (E/W if 5/1+)
This looks pretty tricky with some wanting the heavens to open and some not, to further confuse matters further Paul Nicholls saddles two in what looks a very open race. The top weighted Polly Peachum improved leaps and bounds last season and signed off with a very impressive run in defeat, behind the useful Southfield Theatre. The handicapper has had his say though and conceding at least twelve pounds to everything is going to take some doing first time up, she wants a good deal of respect but we have to take her on first time up. Mrs Peachey was a fine second in this last term, she wouldn’t have to do much to figure but the potential for rain is off putting. Of the Nicholls challengers, Tagrita appears the one with the most scope. He was readily seen off in hot company last time but had previously been quite impressive and has won around here, he will get the nod from us today with Sean Bowen taking a handy seven pounds off ( Rider won a valuable race last week ) Any rain would further enhance the Nicholls challengers chance and although the yards form is a little in and out at present he looks a good type for this season.
Tagrita (E/W if 5/1+)
This is a very high quality sprint with plenty of group form brought to the table, the probable market protagonists appear to be Jack Dexter and Topics. The pair met last time and both ran huge races behind Gordon Lord Byron, Tropics got the better of Jack Dexter that day but excuses can be made and the latter has a three pounds pull in the weights which could prove too much. Jack Dexter himself is three from six here and lumped a big weight when winning this last season, he’s proved a little disappointing this season in that he hasn’t won but gets a chance to atone today and is given on his favoured ground. Spinatrix has improved out of all recognition and isn’t one to dismiss out of hand and Aetna is capable on a going day.
Jack Dexter (WIN)
Another hot handicap see’s last seasons winner Standing Ovation attempting to go one better than when running a fine second at Cheltenham last time. He must carry eleven pounds more than when winning this last term but jumps beautifully and clearly like this venue, the Cheltenham race ought to have blown away any cobwebs and he’s given to defy his ever rising mark. The list of challengers is endless and outsider Benny’s Mist would have every chance for his in-form handler if the ground was genuinely soft. Golden Chieftain has a little to find with the selection on his first run of the season, that would have put him right though and now only two pounds above the mark he won off at the Cheltenham festival he is high on the list. Colin Tizzards challenger is likely to have the race run to suit and has won over the course and distance, he is hard to ignore and is selected to run into at least a place. Just A Par looks to be on a good mark based on his achievements as a novice whilst Opening Batsmen is seriously capable on his day and could surprise at the odds.
Standing Ovation (E/W if 5/1+)
Golden Chieftain (E/W)
One horse stands head and shoulders above the others on the formbook here but is likely to be priced up accordingly, the horse in question is the Roger Varian trained Princess Loulou. A reproduction of her excellent second behind Ribbons in a Grade One at Deauville really should take this, a reproduction of her fourth in France last time would also give her claims. The downside to betting the Varian filly is that she rarely wins and although running a decent enough race last time, she really ought to have won. Should she put her best foot forward she will win but isn’t trustworthy enough to risk betting at the odds. Lady Tiana steps out of handicaps having slammed a decent bunch last time at Nottingham, she is improved plenty this season and will love the ground. With a few having questions over them, she is tipped to run into at least a place and could upset the favourite if her progression continues. Of the rest, Melrose Abbey is feared most, she faced an impossible task last time and appeared not to stay the longer trip, back down in trip again today she should threaten the principles.
Lady Tiana (E/W if 5/1+)
Former Champion Hurdler Rock On Ruby reverted to hurdles after a rather disastrous spell over fences, culminating in a shocking round of jumping in the Arkle. Since returned to hurdles however he ran the extremely talented The New One to a head and a repeat would almost certainly suffice here. The complication for Harry Fry’s stable star is the presence of Irving and the amount of weight he must concede, coupled with that is the fact he’s tended to need his first run of the season and he probably prefers good ground, all things considered he has to be opposed today but is so with a heavy heart. Irving apparently failed to handle the nature of the Cheltenham track when flopping in the supreme novices hurdle, he was favourite that day though and Paul Nicholls has won three of the last five renewals of this. He must be respected but is likely to be short enough and is best watched until proving himself in this sort of company. Forgotten Voice was the selection before the rain began to fall, he’s on a very lenient mark and has likely been aimed at this, the rain though is a serious concern and he’s omitted as such. Fox Norton is interesting given his lack of experience, he ran a nice race in decent company at Punchestown last time and is tentatively taken to improve further and run into some money.
Fox Norton (E/W)
This looks absolutely impossible with multiple runners and multiple runners having a chance of sorts. A chance therefore is going to be taken on a progressive three year old and Old Town Boy fits that bill nicely. After showing himself to be an improver connections decided to give him a break, the decision looked pretty questionable judged on his first run back but he relished the soft ground at York last time and showed a nice attitude in winning. Connections may have seen this as a realistic prize to aim at and off his featherweight he can reward the faith and take this. Communicator has been handed a tough draw and very rarely wins, he has twice ran with huge credit in this and has hit the crossbar numerous times. With conditions likely to suit him today he has every chance of running into the money and could possibly reward his long suffering followers. The dangers range from number one on the card to number twenty three but a selected few with chances are Headline News, Open Eagle and another unexposed three year old Farquhar.
Old Town Boy (E/W)
by Chris Connolly