Alex Hammond: Weekend blog

There’s something for everyone on Saturday and Alex Hammond makes Chidswell in the Grimthorpe Chase one of her best bets.

What is your favourite racing code? Jumps fan? Do you like to get stuck into the all-weather flat racing over the winter or do you prefer to watch the blood bloods in Dubai strut their stuff?

Either way, there is something for you this weekend. I’ll be hosting in the Sky Sports Racing studios as we bring you the coverage of Doncaster’s Grimthorpe Chase meeting, the Spring Cup from Lingfield and Super Saturday from Meydan.

There is also a quality card at Newbury where the Greatwood Gold Cup is the feature. I think it’s fair to say it’s a super Saturday all round.

Richards can strike again at Doncaster

Let’s kick off at Town Moor then where the staying chasers take centre stage. The Virgin Bet Grimthorpe Handicap Chase has attracted a field of seven with Alan King’s Canelo the current 2/1 market leader with Sky Bet.

His short price is understandable given his win in Wetherby’s Rowland Meyrick Chase over Christmas, but his fourth place in the Sky Bet Chase at this track in January didn’t knock me out. The step up to 3m 2f should be in his favour, but I’m happy to leave him alone at that price.

I’d be keener on a horse that hails from the stable that won that Sky Bet Chase. It was wonderful to see Takingrisks land the first of Doncaster’s big staying chases of the year for an emotional Nicky Richards and the trainer relies on Chidswell in this race.

He is yet to sparkle this season, but a return to the race he won two years ago may well spark a revival. He’s still 3lbs higher in the weights but is dropping back down the ratings and the drying ground at Doncaster will aid his cause once again over this trip. He’s 5/1 second favourite with Sky Bet.

Special Prep may be over-priced at 12/1 off his light weight for a stable that do well with their staying chasers. He’s only 1lbs higher in the handicap than for his last win which came over fences and has largely been running over hurdles and in jumpers bumpers since that day back in March 2019.

Varian team up for the Cup

Over at Lingfield the Spring Cup is a Fast Track Qualifier for the 3yo Championships on All Weather Final’s Day on Good Friday and has attracted some smart horses.

The Listed race is run over seven furlongs, which may not bring out the best in Megallan, who represents recent Winter Derby-winning trainer John Gosden and is one of the main market protagonists. However, he has winning form over a mile as a juvenile and I’m not sure the drop in trip for his seasonal reappearance will bring out the best in him.

Even though he’s by speedy stallion Kingman, his dam is a half-sister to Derby winner Golden Horn so there’s lots of stamina there. It’s a good starting point for this 2000 Guineas entry but I’m going to look elsewhere.

El Drama is an intriguing runner for Roger Varian. All we know about him is that he won his only start at two, in a seve-furlong Doncaster maiden on soft ground. We also know he cost a pretty penny as a yearling thanks to his eye-catching pedigree.

To be fair there is plenty of stamina in his family to but this unexposed colt looks to have much more to offer and hopefully his inexperience won’t be detrimental on just his second outing.

Ryan Moore has been on fire with four-timers on his last two visits to this track and he rides for his old ally Richard Hannon here. Thank You Next has the advantage of all-weather experience with a win at Kempton on her second racecourse outing back in July.

he has solid group 3 form and brings plenty to the table. It’s a hot little race, but El Drama just about gets my vote as he should be capable of progressing into group company before too long.

Godolphin to land Meydan feature

In Dubai there are two group 1 races on thee Meydan card.

The first of those is the Jebel Hatta which is a race that has thrown up some classy winners over the years. Old favourite Lord Glitters is back in action for trainer David O’Meara and the grey has been in flying form in Dubai this winter albeit he never got into things and stayed on too late in the Al Rashidiya behind Zakouski and Court House (reopposes) last time out.

All eyes will be in Al Suhail for his reappearance. Charlie Appleby’s four-year-old hasn’t been seen since winning at Newmarket back in July when dropped into listed company, but won’t lack for fitness for this trainer.

He is impeccably bred, being a son of the mighty Dubawi and a half-brother to Telecaster out of a mare that was runner-up in both the English and Irish Oaks. The sky could be the limit for him and I hope he starts his season with a bang. He’s 15/8 joint favourite with Lord Glitters with Sky Bet.

Northern raider looks Greatwood bet

And back over the jumps at Newbury, Sky Bet are paying five places instead of three in the Greatwood so with that in mind, let’s try and find something that could be a bit of value.

I’m convinced we haven’t seen the best of Windsor Avenue and his trainer Brian Ellison is bidding to win his second big handicap chase on consecutive weekends after Sam’s Adventure in the Eider at Newcastle last Saturday.

This horse promised so much in the early part of his career and I was encouraged by his reappearance when second to Imperial Aura at Carlisle. I think Saturday’s two-and-a-half-mile trip is about his optimum and Ellison is reaching for a couple of aids here with the application of a tongue tie and cheekpieces.

I’m happy to give him another chance, particularly at his current price of 14/1 with Sky Bet.

So whatever your racing preference, I wish you luck and hope you have a successful weekend. I think it’s now time to try and find some Cheltenham winners; see you next week.

Source : Sky Sports