The Cheltenham count down is well and truely on. Today gives us another chance to see a few potential contenders and we also have a Grand National Trial. Yesterday my nap EDMUND KEAN was very impressive and surely one to watch for the festival, the runner-up SEEDSMAN is also one to watch. I fancy a couple of David Pipe's today and I'm hoping the old boy above GILES CROSS can repeat last year's success.
Here are todays tips. I've done three Lucky 15's.
Lucky 15 Number 1
THE COCKNEY MACKEM 1515 ASCOT – (5th – 25-1) ran very well at the end of last season in some competitive chases. A superb second at the festival in the Byrne Plate behind Salut Flo shows this one has the ability. He has gone well fresh before and shouldn't be discounted back over hurdles. I've just got 25-1 on BetFred for this one which is a crazy price. Great each way chance!
CUE CARD 1550 ASCOT (nb) – (WON 15-8) this horse has bags of class and despite him stepping up in trip he still has enough ability at this distance to take this. He will never beat SPRINTER SACRE so connections' plan to change distance for me is sensible. Favourites have a cracking record in this race and the drop back in trip will suit and I think he will win comfortably.
MIAS BOY 1600 LINGFIELD – (4th – 7-1) I just can't leave this old favourite of mine and would back it to the death. He just got pipped last week at this course. He is back at a mile so will need a strong pace. I think that is what has resulted in places in the last two races is that he didn't get going soon enough. However, this is a step up in class. Must have a strong each way claim though.
SAOI 1635 LINGFIELD – (2nd – 3-1) bidding for a hat-trick and I was furious with myself for missing the first of those victories as I had backed it twice beforehand. He should appreciate the step up in trip and the form of his last two victories is strong and been franked by the runner up running to a place twice more.
Lucky 15 Number 2
VALCO DE TOUZAINE 1345 HAYDOCK – (3rd – 11-4) ran well in France and has two decent starts to his British career including a good second on his reappearance. He then ran creditably behind LORDOFTHEHOUSE next time out. Those runs should put him in with a smart chance today.
KENTFORD GREY LADY 1420 HAYDOCK (treble) – (4th – 2-1) she is a smart stayer and ran very well in third behind REVE DE SIVOLA in the Cleeve Hurdle last time. On that form she should take this today.
GILES CROSS 1455 HAYDOCK – (PU) he ran a cracker in the Welsh National and just emptied totally in the final few furlongs. At that point the stable had just come from being closed down so it was a damn good show. He won is last year ahead of NEPTUNE COLLONGES and we know what he went on to do. He loves the ground and the track and now that the stable are back with the winners again, he has a great chance to reclaim his crown. I have ran out of words for describing DENIS O'REGAN as a superb jockey and he will get the best out of him again.
SIXTY SOMETHING 1640 HAYDOCK (nap) – (unplaced) is a progressive horse as he showed when winning at Aintree and Bangor this season. He ran a bit under par last time at Doncaster behind STORM SURVIVOR but he still ran on well late in that race. O'REGAN's relaxed style will suit him and he should be crept into the race, fancy him big time to bounce back today.
Lucky 15 Number 3
AMIGO 1430 WINCANTON – (3rd – 13-8) won over 3 miles last time at Chpestow in a dogged style and he has been raised 3lbs for that success. With heavy ground again on the cards he should be thereabouts at the finish up the long Wincanton finish.
DIAMONDS RETURN 1615 WINCANTON – (PU) won three on the bounce at the end of last season including over course and distance and ran well last time out. Returns today and could continue that progressive trend, hopeful of a big run.
REAL MILAN 1405 ASCOT – (PU) whilst ROCKY CREEK is a worthy favourite after his impressive win at Warwick last time my selection has done nothing wrong so far in two novice chases and will revel in the mud. This is a big step up but he looks a smart one.
ASHKAZAR 1440 ASCOT – (LAST!!!!!) this old dog infuriates me! He can be absolutely class and was that at Cheltenham last season. He has so much ability but it depends how he feels. He'll either run well and give them something to think about or he won't be bothered and will be pulled up. I'm hoping for the first one at a pretty decent price.
So, quite a few selections today and I'm more than hopeful of my top three. I just have to say that THE COCKNEY MACKEM has such a good chance in my opinion today and I have put a little extra on him each way!
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Best of luck everyone and enjoy the racing!