13.30 – Virgin Bet Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase – 2m2f
A good race to start the card. ANY NEWS remains winless in this sphere, but he has a lot of useful form in the bag and his latest third in a stronger race than this was pretty decent.
In first-time cheekpieces, off the same mark, he should go well, while WHISTLEINTHEDARK is unbeaten in two starts over fences and could be capable of completing his hat-trick. Both of these have sound place claims.
Selections: ANY NEWS, WHISTLEINTHEDARK
14.05 – Virgin Bet Handicap Hurdle – 2m5f
YORKSEA did well to finish fourth in the Betfair Hurdle last time, where he came from miles off the pace to snatch a place. That is by far the best form on offer and he drops significantly in grade off the same mark here.
He should be more than capable of making his presence felt over this longer distance. SCARFACE ran well in a Grade 2 last time when fourth and is the back-up option to the former. Again, two against the field.
Selections: YORKSEA, SCARFACE
14.40 – Virgin Bet Fives Handicap Chase – 2m4f
SILVER HALLMARK ran below expectations when only ninth at Cheltenham last time but this race is easier and this former Grade 2 winner has to be of interest for place purposes from his much reduced mark.
I’ll also add in Paul Nicholls’ COMPLETE UNKNOWN, who is a major player back in a handicap having finished third in a Grade 2 last time. This course should really play to his strengths and there should be more to come.
Selections: SILVER HALLMARK, COMPLETE UNKNOWN
15.17 – Virgin Bet Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle – 2m
Dan Skelton’s VICKI VALE bolted up on her hurdles debut at Hereford and was highly tried in a Grade 1 next time at Newbury. She was pulled up in that assignment but her latest fourth in a Grade 2 has been advertised.
For instance, the winner – She Wears It Well – scored at the Cheltenham Festival this week and therefore this is a great chance for the mare to gain a second career success. She can put her experience to good use and defeat Zestful.
Selections: VICKI VALE
15.50 – Virgin Bet Handicap Chase – 3m
The lightly-raced SOUTHERN SAM ran another good race after an absence to finish runner-up at Wetherby back in November behind a progressive type and he has now made the frame in each of his three starts over fences.
He goes well fresh, remains on the same mark as last time, and should be suited to this flat track. Whilst he is faced with the task of carrying top-weight again, this isn’t a deep race and he is expected to feature.
Selections: SOUTHERN SAM
16.25 – Virgin Bet Fives Novices’ Hurdle – 2m5f
The seven-year-old THEATRE MAN has done little wrong in his career to date, who had placed in both bumper starts and has subsequently made the transition to hurdles with a win and two seconds from three starts.
He was only touched off by half-a-length last time and has to be respected in a race he might be able to dominate if let loose on the front-end. THE KING OF RYHOPE drops in class after a good third in a Grade 2 last-time-out and is probably the one to beat.
Selections: THEATRE MAN, THE KING OF RYHOPE