Britain-Ireland Preview: Spot Plays for Graded Jumps Races
Ten graded stakes races across five venues highlight an outstanding weekend of jumps racing in Britain and Ireland as the lead-up to next month’s Cheltenham Festival continues to hot up.
With the Cheltenham Festival opening in less than a month on March 15, this weekend may feature some of the final major race lead-ups. But though there will be some good guides to Cheltenham this weekend, there are also some great betting opportunities in their own right.
Ascot – Betfair Ascot Chase (G1), 2 5/8 miles, open
Several candidates for the rich Ryanair Chase (G1, 2 9/16 miles) at Cheltenham appear here, and though it is an open looking race, #2 Fakir D’oudairies is likely to be the favorite. The Irish challenger has the best formline, finishing second to Allaho both in last year’s Ryanair Chase and again in the Horse and Jockey Hotel Chase (G2) at Thurles last month.
However, it might be worth trying #3 Fanion D’Estruval to beat him. His trainer Venetia Williams and jockey Charlie Deutsch are in great form, and he put up a great effort to finish a 1 1/2-length second at his last start to Phoenix Way at Ascot while giving away 15 pounds.
- $10 win/$30 show: #3 Fanion D’Estruval
Haydock – Rendlesham Hurdle (G2), 3 1/16 miles, open
A trial for the Stayers’ Hurdle (G1, 3 miles), and one where horses like #2 Thomas Darby and #6 Molly Ollys Wishes will need to impress for their connections to continue on toward that race. The latter won nicely at Ascot at her last start, and with heavy ground expected she looks a good prospect again.
- $10 win/$30 place: #6 Molly Ollys Wishes
Haydock, Grand National Trial (G3, 3 9/16 miles), open
A very good guide to the iconic Grand National Steeplechase in April, and this could well fall to a veteran of three Grand Nationals in #5 Blaklion, who has a fourth and a sixth-place finish at Aintree. The newly-turned 13-year-old has been rejuvenated this season, winning twice at Haydock already this season, and he should be prominent for a long way again.
- $10 win/$30 show: #5 Blaklion
Haydock, Prestige Novices Hurdle (G2, 3 1/16 miles), novices
#1 Hillcrest will be looking to cement his place as the leading English challenger for the Albert Bartlett Spa Novices Hurdle (three miles) at Cheltenham in this race. He is unbeaten in all the hurdle races he’s completed and his only mishap came at his last start when another horse interfered with him, unseating his jockey. The odds may be short, but he should be too strong.
- $20 win: #1 Hillcrest
Gowran Park, Red Mills Trial Hurdle (G3, 2 miles), open
Teahupoo and Quilixios have battled twice this year, with Teahupoo coming out on top on both occasions. They should go well again but it’s worth giving Quilixios a chance to topple him.
- $10 win: #1 Quilixios