Lord Henry was the only runner from our list to follow today and he won at Ascot to maintain his 100% record over fences. He could well be one to look out for at Aintree where ground and track should suit.
There is a real mixed bag of racing over the weekend, really something for everyone.
I will start with Newcastle where the turf flat season gets under way with the traditional opener, The Lincoln, switched to the Tyneside track this year.
Our old friend Zero Tolerance heads the weights with 9 stone 10. He is probably weighted up to the hilt but would still have a chance if the ground were to ride on the soft side. He was 4th last year off 103 and is now running off a mark 1 lb higher. That was in pretty soft ground at Redcar though. Last year’s winner, Blythe Knight, also appreciated the soft ground that day. He has been running well over hurdles since and is only 3 lbs higher in the handicap. Both Zero Tolerance and Blythe Knight might find the ground just not quite soft enough to overcome their higher weights.
Rio Riva has been laid out for this and goes well fresh. He seems to go on any ground and is consistent. I wouldn’t rule him out but coming from stall 7 he may not have the best of the draw.
I am going to look at those drawn high for my main fancies. The giant Gentleman’s Deal won at Lingfield last Saturday and must be on the shortlist. He has won his last 4 on the bounce but they were on the all weather. His record on turf is not as good.
Mutawaffer is drawn 20 but is on a losing streak of 19. Despite that the handicapper does not seem to want to drop him too much and I am going to pass him over. Audience is the sort that seems to pop up at a big price from time to time. I remember a 33/1 success a couple of years ago. He is not badly handicapped and there are worse each way shouts. My Paris might try to make all from stall 19. He is another on a fair mark but historically does not win at this time of year. Selection time! To be honest I am not confident but at the prices I must just take a chance with Audience each way. Rio Riva is worth a saver in case the experts have the draw bias wrong.
Rising Shadow should have conditions to suit in the 3.15. He has never won first time out before however. Pivotal Flame is the other one I like in this.
Cadwell stepped up on previous efforts last time out when 2nd on the all weather. He is an interesting runner in the 4.30.
Princess Valerina won a 6 furlong maiden last season for Barry Hills. Looked the type to improve at 3 and should get the mile OK in the Kempton 2.25.
Water Mill looked potentially useful when winning at Kempton on his only start last term. He is back at Kempton for the 2.55. He is trained by Andrew Balding whose father won this race in 2000.
At Nad Al Sheeba, Youmzain and Best Alibi are of interest in the Sheema Classic.
The main jumping action comes from Ascot where young Rachel Green may have a winner with Fountain Crumble in the 3.40. She is well worth her 7 lbs claim.
There are plenty of old favourites in the 4.15, such as Fork Lightning and Mister McGoldrick. Tamarinbleu represents our current list to follow though and has a realistic chance based on his win at Ascot in December. He is quite versatile with regards to trip and he goes well fresh.
Barry Fenton won on Roznic for our list to follow this week and I am hoping he can do the same on Presenting Express in the 4.50. Emma Lavelles’s charge is a bit high in the weights but should really appreciate the ground and is normally a good weight carrier.. If he gets into a rhythm he could go well.
Another that should like the better ground is Paul Nicholls’ Earth Man in the 5.25. He has had injury problems and this will be his last run over hurdles before he goes chasing. Warningcamp looks the one to beat in this though. He won well at Wincanton last time and there may be more to come.
We have a couple of interesting runners from our jumps list to follow on Sunday. Up at Hexham Double Default looks the one to beat in the 3.40. He is only really marking time over hurdles as his future lies over the larger obstacles but he does look the one to beat here nonetheless.
Pepperoni Pete has been very disappointing on his last 2 runs but a break, a tongue tie and better ground might well do the trick in the 2.20 at Newton Abbot.
I will be back on Sunday evening.