I was going to leave this until Saturday morning as there are course inspections pretty much everywhere. But if they fail the first one they’ll keep inspecting up until noon so I thought I’d best do it. The worse that can happen is they’ll all be off and I’ll have tipped no losers.
The Becher Chase is over the National fences and always makes for great viewing. Blaklion will be a hot order after running so well to be 4th in the Grand National in April. The shorter trip here should suit and in a way I hope he wins and boosts the profile of Bristol De Mai who beat him at Wetherby.
But he’s 5/2 and I think there’s better value here in The Young Master. This fella showed a lot of promise a couple of seasons back and the Waley-Cohens paid a few quid for him. Things seemed to go downhill after that and on the face of it he’s a risky proposition as he’s failed to finish two of his last three races.
But there have been few better jockeys over these big fences in recent years than Sam Waley-Cohen, and I include pros in that. He’s one of the best amateurs I’ve seen and he still claims 3lbs. The handicapper is relenting now having dropped the horse’s rating by 5lbs since April. He also has heavy ground for this – he’s won 3 from 5 on such going and if he can stay on his feet I think he’ll go very close.
The Young Master 22/1 . Nap
Edited: A quick edit after some twitter reaction to a 22/1 Nap. As I’ve mentioned before, the TV tips are for small stake fun bets. The Nap represents what I think is the best value of all today’s tips from me. It does not mean I think it has a great chance.
I really like Mercian Prince here, an ex-French gelding who was a creditable third at Stratford on his seasonal debut. The winner boosted that form when running really well in a big handicap at Cheltenham later in November.
Mercian Prince is trained by Amy Murphy who’s beginning to make a name for herself with the likes of the young hurdler Kalashnikov. Mercian Prince is an improving chaser who’s won on soft and has every chance of handling this heavy ground. He has a springy jumping style which I hope will stand him in good stead over these big fences although it’s worth noting that the sight of the National fences alone is often a surprise to Aintree debutants and until they’ve cleared three or four you can never be sure how they’ll react.
Mercian Prince 13/2
Now, on to Sandown:
This is one of the famous Novice chases in the calendar and Saturday’s renewal, on paper, with no bubbles yet burst, is the best for decades, perhaps the best ever.
Earlier this week I tipped North Hill Harvey on the understanding that Finian’s Oscar would miss it – his trainer said they’d be waiting for Cheltenham – but he’s decided to run and he’s the one I fear most. There’s one thing I don’t doubt: at 13/2 (Betfred & Tote) North Hill Harvey is the best value in the race by quite some margin and he is the recommendation.
You’ll hear folk saying ‘you can’t eat value’, well, you can if you get it often enough. Regularly betting overpriced horses is a route to profit in the long run.
North Hill Harvey at around 13/2
A typical tricky Saturday handicap but I like two here at decent prices. A Hare Breath has obviously had his training troubles. He’s 9 but has run just 11 times. Still, he’s a talented animal and usually runs well fresh. He’s marginally my first choice.
Next is a horse I love watching, especially at Sandown where he usually tries to make all and rarely runs a poor race. Any rain or deadening of the ground by frost and his chances will be improved.
A Hare Breath 8/1 . Rayvin Black 20/1
The Tingle Creek, usually a strong pointer to the two-mile champ of the season but Douvan and Un De Sceaux defected yesterday, pretty much leaving this to Fox Norton. Had he got going a wee bit earlier in March he’d already have a Champion Chase belt and although he’s unbackable for folk like us at around 1/2, I won’t oppose him.
I tipped Charbel earlier this week for the Huntingdon race on Sunday but his trainer had a change of mind and put him in here hoping the ground would not get soft. If it doesn’t he shouldn’t embarrass himself. He’s a lot better than he showed last time. I’d be delighted if he won this but very surprised.
Fox Norton 1/2
I’ve had an eye on Cresswell Breeze over the past couple of seasons and backed her a couple of times at big odds without collecting. Needless to say I missed her last time when she won the Southern National in good style. She runs mostly right handed being 3 from 15 going that way and I’m hoping she can notch up another tomorrow.
A tricky race though and not one for plunging.
Cresswell Breeze 8/1
Enjoy the racing and don’t bet more than you can afford to lose with a smile.