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Monday, 27 March 2017

Grand National, Saturday, April 8

Definitly Red thrust himself firmly into the Grand National picture when staying on well to win the Betbright Grimthorpe Handicap Chase, over 3 miles 2 furlongs, at Doncaster earlier this month by 14 lengths from The Last Samurai and looks worthy of support at 14/1 in the ante post market. Brian Ellison’s 8-year-old travelled and jumped well at Doncaster and, while he lacks experience of the National fences, he’ll apparently be schooled over Aintree-type fences ahead of his National bid.

The Definite Article gelding had previously been hampered and unseated rider in the Peter Marsh Handicap Chase, over 3 miles, at Haydock, but would have finished second to Bristol De Mai. The winner was far from disgraced in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, so even that form looks much stronger than it did at the time. Like many of his rivals, Definitly Red has his stamina to prove over 4 miles 2½ furlongs, but is a progressive young horse with an excellent strike rate over fences and appeals as one of the more likely winners.

Selection: Aintree 5.15 Definitly Red to win (14/1 generally available)

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Dubai World Cup, Saturday, March 26

Triple Grade 1 winner Arrogate is officially rated 16lb superior to his nearest rivals in the Dubai World Cup (4.45) at Meydan on Saturday and correspondingly long odds on (4/11) to extend his winning sequence. However, as demonstrated by the defeat of 2/9 favourite Douvan in the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the recent Cheltenham Festival, horses are not machines, so there may be some value in opposing Bob Baffert’s 4-year-old.

The son of Unbridled’s Song has yet to race outside North America and, although Baffert apparently has no qualms about the Meydan surface and is happy with the condition of his charge, there can be no guarantees that the long journey from California hasn’t taken its toll.

Move Up (66/1) made decent progress on turf last season, progressing from handicaps to win twice in Group company over 1 mile 4 furlongs. The Dubawi colt ran well on his first attempt on dirt, and in Grade 1 company, when fourth of 8, beaten 3¼ lengths, behind Long River in the Al Maktoum Challenge R3 over course and distance three weeks ago. Saeed bin Suroor’s 4-year-old is entitled to improve for that run, his first since October, and may be capable of reversing the form with the winner and the second, Special Fighter, despite reopposing on identical terms.

In fact, Arrogate aside, Move Up has very little to find with anything else in the field, so the 25/1 available with Paddy Power or Betfair Sportsbook without the favourite looks cracking value.

Selection: Move Up w/o Arrogate (25/1 with Paddy Power or Betfair Sportsbook)

Sunday, 12 March 2017

2.10 Cheltenham, Friday, March 17

The County Hurdle, run over 2 miles 1 furlong on the New Course at Cheltenham, is usually subject to gambles a-plenty and this year’s renewal is unlikely to be any different. However, no favourite has won in the last 10 years and, with winners at 50/1, 25/1 and 20/1 three times in that period, the race is perfect for us, especially with ‘non-runner, no bet’ in operation with many leading bookmakers.

Vosne Romanee (33/1) earned himself a 13lb rise in the weights when winning at Perth in May, but showed improved form, leading on the bit at the last flight and drawing clear on the run-in to beat subsequent winner Curious Carlos by 6 lengths. The performance came on good to firm going, but Dr. Richard Newland’s 6-year-old has run well enough on good, good to soft and soft going to suggest he won’t be inconvenienced by slower underfoot conditions. The Arkan gelding takes a significant rise in class, but demonstrated his well-being by winning on the all-weather at Wolverhampton four weeks ago and is due to be ridden by Aidan Coleman, who’s 5-14 (36%) on the yard’s hurdlers in recent seasons.

Red Tornado (33/1) kept on strongly to win on his first attempt at Listed level at Market Rasen in May, but was well beaten, off an 8lb higher mark, over the same course and distance in September. He hasn’t run over hurdles since, but had a recent pipe-opener on the all-weather at Wolverhampton, has winning form on good to soft and soft going and has been dropped 2lb in the weights. It’s far too soon to be writing him off and he’s another who could go well at generous odds.

Selections: Vosne Romanee (33/1 with Betfair Sportsbook), Red Tornado (33/1 generally available)