DAILY RACING DIGEST – THURSDAY

We take a look at some of the top racing stories of the day in our new feature and provide our experts’ racing selections on Thursday, March 2, 2017.

blacklion


Trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies has doubts that son Willy will be able to gain the required number of chase wins by April 6 to ride Blaklion (right) in the Grand National. Willy, who has spent the last five years concentrating on the Flat, has 12 career wins over jumps. His father said: “Willy still needs thee winners over fences. It might quite hard work. I have not got that many young chasers coming up and most of them have gone up the handicap. It is more difficult to find winners at this time of year.”
Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/racing/article-4271910/Nigel-Twiston-Davies-doubts-son-s-Blaklion-National-ride.html


Michael O’Leary has removed Don Poli, Empire Of Dirt and Outlander from the Grand National, as he said he would, following his displeasure at the weights meted out by official BHA handicapper Phil Smith. Champagne West, Dromnea and Otago Trail have also been scratched, along with several other Gigginstown runners including Clarcam, Tiger Roll and A Toi Phil. A total of 95 entries remain with the weights now headed by Carlingford Lough.
Source: https://www.thesun.co.uk/sport/horseracing/2983756/2017-grand-national-field-cut-to-95-entries-as-don-poli-outlander-empire-of-dirt-were-among-the-horses-taken-out-at-the-latest-scratchings-deadlines/


cheltenhamBHA senior handicapper Phil Smith his back at critics after unveiling the weights for the 10 handicaps at the Cheltenham Festival, insisting “there is no semblance of any anti-Irish bias”. In statement he said the BHA’s handicapping approach with Irish horses has provided “greater equality and fairness” after years of what he felt was a “disproportionately high success rate of Irish runners in British handicaps” – most significantly at the Cheltenham Festival.
Source: http://www.racinguk.com/news/article/49463/phil-smith-insists-no-anti-irish-bias-in-handicap-ratings


Alan King is in the dark over who will ride JP McManus-owned stable star Yanworth in the Champion Hurdle. The Kingwell Hurdle winner is as short as 10/3 for the 2m feature on March 14, but regular pilot Barry Geraghty is nursing six broken ribs and will miss the Cheltenham Festival. King said: “I don’t know who is going to ride him and we need to speak at the weekend, as we do need to find out. Obviously I would like them to come and have a sit on him. No one has ridden him over a hurdle bar Barry Geraghty, so whoever rides him we want to come and school him and possibly ride a bit of work.”
Source: http://www.racinguk.com/news/article/49471/alan-king-eager-to-pencil-in-champion-hurdle-jockey-for-yanworth


Nicky HendersonWith Barry Geraghty ruled out through injury, Noel Fehily is likely to come in for the plum Champion Hurdle ride on the JP McManus-owned Buveur D’Air, who made a successful transition back to hurdles in a Listed event at Sandown. Trainer Nicky Henderson (right) said: “I suspect he will. I saw JP on Monday and I don’t think anybody has really discussed it as there are so many horses involved in the conundrum.”
Source: http://www.racinguk.com/news/article/49471/alan-king-eager-to-pencil-in-champion-hurdle-jockey-for-yanworth


Cheltenham Festival - St Patrick's Day

Though unseating Mark Walsh at the last in the Irish Gold Cup, former Stayers’ Hurdle winner More Of That (right) has trainer Jonjo O’Neill growing in confidence ahead of his Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup run. “We never saw a spark this season until his last run in the Irish Gold Cup,” said O’Neill. “He’d have to be at his best, of course, but the race is open and he loves the track.” More Of That is currently 16/1 (from 20/1) with Bet4Causes.
Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/racing/2017/03/01/jonjo-oneill-expecting-go-close-gold-cup/


A federal judge has rejected leading Irish horseracing owner JP McManus’s bid to recover the $5.22m he claimed the US government withheld as tax from a backgammon win. McManus claimed that paying a relatively small “domicile levy” in Ireland should leave him exempt from tax taken by authorities, but judge Nancy Firestone denied his request to order the IRS to hand over the money.
Source: http://calvinayre.com/2017/03/01/business/jp-mcmanus-loses-battle-to-claim-5-2m-tax-refund-from-us/


Despite falling at Kempton on Saturday, Nicky Henderson says he intends to run Charli Parcs in the JCB Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, rather than the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. “I think we were always leaning towards the Triumph and that’s still the case. If he’s in good form, I think he will come here. Divin Bere could also end up going in the same race. We’ll have to see how the weights work out for the Fred Winter.”
Source: http://www.attheraces.com/news/2017/March/01/triumph-hurdle-on-the-agenda-for-charli-parcs-after-pleasing-home-spin
http://www.racinguk.com/news/article/49464/triumph-hurdle-on-the-agenda-for-charli-parcs-after-pleasing-home-spin


Thistlecrack’s younger half-brother West Approach is likely to run in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle rather than taking on his elders in the Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. Trainer Colin Tizzard’s son and assistant Joe said: “We purposely protected his novice status last year and however brave John and Heather Snook (owners) are, throwing a novice in the deep end is tough. I think with this one he has one chance as a novice and he has got a great chance in the Albert Bartlett.”
Source: http://www.attheraces.com/news/2017/March/01/west-approach-likely-to-stick-to-novice-company-at-cheltenham
http://www.racinguk.com/news/article/49468/west-approach-likely-to-stick-to-novice-company-at-cheltenham

Willie Mullins 1


Willie Mullins (right) has won the Cheltenham Champion Bumper nine times and feels Carter McKay could be his brightest chance of landing the March 15 finale again. His is one of five Mullins entries of the 36 remaining and the trainer said: “Carter McKay could look the one on his form of the last day. He’d been doing nice work at home before Naas and his performance was better than I hoped, but you don’t go expecting performances like that. That performance would compare to anything. A horse that can win around Naas doing that is a fair machine.”
Source: http://www.racinguk.com/news/article/49465/exciting-carter-mckay-leads-champion-bumper-squad-for-willie-mullins


An experiment to monitor the heart rates of some leading figures at the Cheltenham Festival has been organised. Commentator Richard Hoiles, ITV colleague Ed Chamberlin, trainer Ben Pauling and broadcaster Rupert Bell will be tested. Hoiles said: “I would be interested in the results as I did think I was relatively laid-back, but then someone posted a video of me commentating next to John Hunt during the Champion Stakes – I was shocked by just how animated I was getting!”
Source: https://beta.racingpost.com/news/cheltenham-festival/pauling-in-the-spotlight-as-high-bridge-aims-to-be-supreme-player/276523


Brian Proctor, former jockey and work-rider for trainer Dick Hern, has died at the age of 75. Legendary jockey Willie Carson said: “He was Dick Hern’s right-hand man and I had some good times with him. He was involved with everything that happened at West Ilsley. If there was a problem Dick and Brian sorted it out. Nothing fazed him, he knew what to do with horses. He was a great man to have in the yard and a great man to deal with a difficult horse.”
Source: https://beta.racingpost.com/news/news/herns-right-hand-man-spent-half-a-century-working-with-the-stars/276646

Today’s MCB British Racing selections – Thursday, March 2, 2017

TAUNTON: 2.00 Ice Konig, 2.30  Saint Breiz, 3.00 Spiritofthegames, 3.35 Sir Ivan, 4.10 The Unit, 4.45 Jonagold, 5.15 Lost In Lecce

NEWCASTLE: 2.10 Free Code, 2.40 Stoneham, 3.10 Be Perfect, 3.45 Magistral, 4.20 Ms Gillard, 4.55 Bargain Buy, 5.25 Aprovado

LUDLOW: 2.20 MANSION (NAP), 2.50 Some Are Lucky, 3.25 Mixchivous (nb), 4.00 Dusky Lark, 4.35 Miss Spent, 5.05 Invisible Man, 5.35 Centurious

CHELMSFORD CITY: 5.20 Justice Rock, 5.55 National Service, 6.25 Atalante, 6.55 Clement, 7.25 Winning Story, 7.55 Kenstone, 8.25 No Not Again, 8.55 Par Three

Wednesday’s NAP was a winner!

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Horse racing Lucky 15 – Sunday’s top selections

Each day Bet4Causes will mark your card, providing a preview of the day’s racing and offering what the experts feel will be the value bets of the day.

Take a look at our Lucky 15 selections (four singles, six doubles, four trebles and a four-fold) for the British meetings on Sunday, February 5, 2017.

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LUCKY 15 SELECTIONS

FRODON (Musselburgh 2.10) really cannot be opposed in the Scottish Future Champions Novices’ Chase. He was well held in second when tipping up at Kempton on Boxing Day, but his previous form, when rattling off four wins in five starts, came against some really crack chasers. He is best judged on his win in the Grade 3 Caspian Caviar Gold Cup at Cheltenham in early December. Anything like a repeat of that sort of form should Paul Nicholls’ five-year-old home and hosed.

BIG WINDMILL (Taunton 3.20) was jumping well on his chasing debut at Ludlow when he stumbled on landing at the third fence and unshipped his rider in a race won by Un Prophete. He does not have a great deal of experience, running just three times over hurdles before the switch to fences, but he was significantly well supported last time. Tom George’s six-year-old can be forgiven that minor faux pas and we hope he’ll be a different proposition in the 2m2f limited handicap chase off a nice mark of 112.

SAN BENEDETO (Musselburgh 3.10) is by no means a good thing in the Scottish Champion Chase, especially with the smart Baltimore Rock in attendance. However, we side with Paul Nicholls’ runner, who was a little unlucky to unseat Sam Twiston-Davies at Cheltenham in December, before running a fair third to Poker School in a Kempton handicap on Boxing Day, off today’s mark of 140. A drop in trip could be in his favour as he takes on five rivals in the extended 1m7½f event.

ABRACADABRA SIVOLA (Taunton 4.20) has yet to win a handicap over fences and was very unfortunate to bump into the in-form Alfie Spinner at Wincanton last month. He drew a little way clear of the third in that extended 3m2½f handicap chase and David Pipe’s runner still looks fairly weighted. He drops back in trip today to 2m7f and while that won’t make a huge difference, the seven-year-old may be able to land the competitive heat or at least give a big run for our money.

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OTHER SELECTIONS:

MUSSELBURGH: 1.40 Tree Of Liberty, 2.10 FRODON (NAP) 2.40 Lough Derg Spirit, 3.10 San Benedeto, 3.40 Monbeg Charmer, 4.10 Oscar Rock, 4.40 Captain Woodie

TAUNTON: 1.50 Volpone Jelois, 2.20 Albert D’olivate, 2.50 Caid Du Lin, 3.20 Big Windmill (nb), 3.50 Verni, 4.20 Abracadabra Sivola, 4.50 Brandon Roc

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Bet via Bet4Causes, where 20% of net revenue goes to sporting charities, who include Greatwood and World Horse Welfare.

You must be 18+ in order to bet. Please gamble responsibly http://www.gambleaware.co.uk

 

Horse racing Lucky 15 – Friday’s top selections

Each day Bet4Causes will mark your card, providing a preview of the day’s racing and offering what the experts feel will be the value bets of the day.

Take a look at our Lucky 15 selections (four singles, six doubles, four trebles and a four-fold) for the British meetings on Friday, January 27, 2017.

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LUCKY 15 SELECTIONS

ETTU (Newcastle 6.15) may finally get off the mark on her fifth start in the 6f maiden. With an official handicap mark of 73, she should be capable of beating her six rivals, four of whom are unraced and two others who have not yet shown the ability to match Jeremy Noseda’s representative. The ability is apparent, yet she has shown it over further trips and she drops back to 6f today, so that may put a few off. She has hardly been punter-friendly, with both champion jockey Jim Crowley and Jamie Spencer on board when she was odds-on for both all-weather starts. She did not get home over a mile last time at Lingfield and while we still feel an easy 7f would suit her best, this Tapeta track should suit over this trip.

PERCY STREET (Taunton 1.45) was a fair middle-distance handicapper on the Flat for Karl Burke and had a rating of 97 when finishing second to To Be Wild in a 1m4f handicap at Doncaster in October. He was bought for £160,000 thereafter, but the way he ran when fourth on is hurdling debut at Newbury to Final Choice on New Year’s Eve would suggest that he was something of an expensive purchase. It would not do well to write him off after one attempt, however, especially since he is in the hands of Nicky Henderson. He did not jump as well as the master trainer would have hoped and he has done plenty of schooling since, so he should be given another chance to prove he is much better than that, and as a four-year-old, he gets plenty of weight from his nine rivals in the 2m novices’ hurdle.

COLIN’S BROTHER (Huntingdon 2.00) arrives here in good form for the 2m3f handicap chase, having won two on the spin – and three out of four – for Nigel Twiston-Davies. The first of his trio of victories came over hurdles at Chepstow in March last year and he failed to stay over 3m at Ludlow in April. Back over fences for his seasonal return in November at Bangor, he was very well backed and duly landed the odds, despite making a couple of errors. Up 7lb for that win, he stayed on gamely after hitting a flat spot at Ludlow last time in a decent class 2 handicap over 2m. That was fair effort in that company, given that he probably wants a tad further. He drops in class today, but has been hiked another 7lb to a mark of 128. While victory in the extended 2m3½f would be another career-best, there is no doubt he is getting the hang of it in this sphere, not that he has learned to settle.

FASHION BUSINESS (Lingfield 2.40) should be able to land the odds in the 10f maiden for Roger Charlton with normal progress. The three-year-old Frankel gelding, who is out of a mare who won a Group 1 on dirt in the US, has had just the one run, a promising second to Blaze Of Glory in a 1m maiden here 13 days ago. He was not particularly well backed, given his pedigree, especially given that it did not look a particularly hot race. Still, the trainer’s debutants usually improve for a second run and the way he ran suggested he will appreciate today’s extra distance.

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OTHER SELECTIONS:

DONCASTER (inspection 7.30am): 1.25 Ghost River, 1.55 Henllan Harri, 2.25 Four Mile Beach, 2.55 Glengra, 3.25 Mount Mews, 3.55 Aux Ptits Soins, 4.25 Brio Conti

HUNTINGDON (inspection 8am): 12.30 London Prize, 1.00 Mixchievous, 1.30 Theo’s Charm, 2.00 Colin’s Brother, 2.30 Ron’s Dream, 3.00 Whataknight, 3.30 Awesome Rosie, 4.00 Or De Vassy

TUNTON: 1.15 Celestial Path, 1.45 Percy Street (nb), 2.15 Dropzone, 2.45 The Unit, 3.15 Aber Gambler, 3.45 Fraser Canyon, 4.15 Clic Work

LINGFIELD PARK: 1.10 No Not Again, 1.40 Dandy Flame, 2.10 Ryan The Giant, 2.40 Fashion Business, 3.10 Burauq, 3.40 Emenem, 4.10 Take Two

NEWCASTLE: 5.45 Custard The Dragon, 6.15 ETTU (NAP), 6.45 Fredricka, 7.15 Newmarket Warrior, 7.45 Oak Bluffs, 8.15 Sugar Town

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Horse racing Lucky 15 – Saturday’s top selections

Each day Bet4Causes will mark your card, providing a preview of the day’s racing and offering what the experts feel will be the value bets of the day.

Take a look at our Lucky 15 selections (four singles, six doubles, four trebles and a four-fold) for the British meetings on Saturday, January 21, 2017.

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LUCKY 15 SELECTIONS

BRISTOL DE MAI (Haydock Park 3.15) may be able to land the Grade 2 Peter Marsh Handicap Chase on a cracking card at the Merseyside track. While the talk this week has been of Colin Tizzard’s Alary, a 16/1 dark horse for the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup and making his British debut in this after showing top-class form in France, he concedes 7lb or more to his 13 rivals and is opposed. Bristol De Mai (above) is in receipt of 8lb and is weighted to reverse form with another favourite of ours, Otago Trail, who beat him at Newcastle last time. The selection, trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies, is only six so has plenty of time and improvement in him, while of the other contenders, Warwick’s Rowland Meyrick winner Definitly Red and Sausalito Sunrise can be considered dangers in a cracking renewal of this 3m chase.

POLITOLOGUE (Haydock Park 1.30) has upwards of 3lb to concede to his five rivals in the 2m4f Grade 2 novices’ chase but may well land a hat-trick. Paul Nicholls’ six-year-old (pictured below) won at this track on his debut over fences and followed up in this class over a longer trip at Ascot last month. He is by no means a certainty, particularly with Cole Harden’s Wetherby conqueror Its’Afreebee in the line-up, but we feel the selection has enough class to overcome the drop in trip and his fencing has been good thus far.

JALEO (Ascot 2.25), at around 9/1, looks a little overpriced for the extended 2m3f Grade 3 handicap hurdle. He appeared to be a progressive sort before falling at the first in the Lanzarote Hurdle at Kempton last week, having been sent off favourite for the ultra-competitive Fred Winter at last year’s Cheltenham Festival before scoring on his return to action at Lingfield in December in a race that would not have been run to suit. Ben Pauling’s runner should be suited by a stiffer pace here and owner John Ferguson’s son, Alex, takes off a useful 7lb.

ST JOHNS POINT (Taunton 1.45) could be worth a second look as he bids to get off the mark over fences at the 12th time of asking in the 2m7f novices’ handicap chase. Trained by Charlie Longsdon, the nine-year-old was running a big race here just before Christmas when coming to grief three out in a race won by Jack Snipe. He seemed to suffer no ill effects and while making the odd error, was not beaten far by Rolling Thunder at Musselburgh on New Year’s Day. Up just 1lb for that, there is no reason to think that he cannot soon be putting more numbers by his name than letters, as has been the case to this point.

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OTHER SELECTIONS:

HAYDOCK PARK: 12.55 Free Stone Hill, 1.30 Politologue (nb), 2.05 Craggaknock, 2.40 The New One, 3.15 BRSTOL DE MAI (NAP), 3.50 Ulbatique, 4.20 Aintree My Dream

ASCOT (inspection 6.30am): 12.40 Dino Velvet, 1.15 Colin’s Brother, 1.50 Kotkikova, 2.25 Jaleo, 3.00 Un De Sceaux, 3.35 Kylemore Lough, 4.05 Reigning Supreme

LINGFIELD PARK: 12.50 Chevallier, 1.25 Mailshot, 2.00 Attain, 2.35 Sennockian Star, 3.10 Ardamir, 3.45 Al Yarmouk, 4.15 Billyoakes

TAUNTON (inspection 9.30am): 1.10 Ramses De Teillee, 1.45 St Johns Point, 2.20 Man Of Plenty, 2.55 Laser Light, 3.30 Romain De Senam, 4.00 Celestial Path, 4.30 Clic Work

NEWCASTLE:  5.45 Golden Opportunity, 6.15 Absolutely Awesome, 6.45 Foxy Forever, 7.15 Testa Rossa, 7.45 Bell Heather, 8.15 Lozah, 8.45 Letbygonesbeicons, 9.15 Zoravan

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Bet via Bet4Causes, where 20% of net revenue goes to sporting charities, who include Greatwood and World Horse Welfare.

You must be 18+ in order to bet. Please gamble responsibly http://www.gambleaware.co.uk

Horse racing Lucky 15 – Friday’s top selections

Each day Bet4Causes will mark your card, providing a preview of the day’s racing and offering what the experts feel will be the value bets of the day.

Take a look at our Lucky 15 selections (four singles, six doubles, four trebles and a four-fold) for the British meetings on Friday, December 30, 2016.

Haydock Racing X

LUCKY 15 SELECTIONS

DUSKY LEGEND (Taunton 3.00) has not been out of the first two in her last eight starts over hurdles and can land her third success in the last four attempts when taking on five rivals in the 2m½f novices’ hurdle. She landed an extended 2m novices’ hurdle at Newbury in early November and under a 3lb penalty, went close again over that same course and distance in a Listed affair three weeks later, with an uncharacteristic ponderous leap at the third last not helping her cause as she chased home the smart La Bague Au Roi. Rated 135, she races off the same mark today and concedes 3lb to all her rivals, who include the impressive Coillte Lass, who seeks a three-timer over hurdles. However, we feel the Alan King-trained mare has a touch of class and this may be an ideal prep for another tilt at the Grade 2 Dawn Run Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

LESSONS IN MILAN (Haydock Park 2.40) was an unconsidered 25/1 chance for an extended 2m7f novices’ limited handicap chase at Newbury but he finished third to stablemate Beware The Bear. That was a decent effort, given that he was a shade disappointing over fences last season, which saw him sign off with an Unseated at Fontwell in May. Given that he turns nine on Sunday and has had only four starts over fences, the Nicky Henderson-trained gelding will need to start making up for lost time. His mark of 134 seems fair and while he takes on 16 rivals in an extended 3m3f handicap chase today, he has been touted as Grand National type. This step up in trip should see him in a better light.

PARIS MAGIC (Newcastle 1.50) had shown ability but had tended to race a little too freely in his first five starts, so Hugo Palmer decided that gelding the Champs Elyses three-year-old would be the best policy. After a seven-week break and with blinkers replacing cheekpieces, he got off the mark in fine style over today’s 1m4½f trip in a weak maiden here earlier this month. He is up 1lb to a mark of 82 for a second try in handicap company and if the blinkers have the desired effect again, he should attract plenty of support as he takes on seven rivals.

BOHER LAD (Taunton 1.30) was a bit unlucky to have stumbled and fallen when attempting to score for the second time in three starts at Bangor last time. Off a mark of 80, the Alan Phillips-trained nine-year-old had hosed up at Ludlow in November in soft ground and had done well to finish runner-up to That’s Gonna Sting over course and distance seven days later under a penalty. Now up to a mark of 90, he will have to produce a career-best effort to land the extended 2m7½f handicap hurdle, but he remains in good form, something that cannot be said about several of his 11 rivals.

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OTHER SELECTIONS:

HAYDOCK PARK: 12.40 Horseguardsparade, 1.10 Buveur D’air, 1.40 Du Soleil, 2.10 Burtons Well, 2.40 Lessons In Milan (nb), 3.10 Listen To The Man, 3.40 Vancouver

NEWCASTLE: 12.50 Killermont Street, 1.20 Amazour, 1.50 Paris Magic, 2.20 Adalene, 2.50 Glorious Asset, 3.20 Billy Bond, 3.50 Newmarket Warrior, 4.20 Canford Belle

TAUNTON: 1.00 Hahnenkam, 1.30 Boher Lad, 2.00 Dashing Oscar, 2.30 In On The Act, 3.00 DUSKY LEGEND (NAP), 3.30 By The Boardwalk, 4.00 Shaddaii

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Bet via Bet4Causes, where 20% of net revenue goes to sporting charities, who include Greatwood and World Horse Welfare.

You must be 18+ in order to bet. Please gamble responsibly http://www.gambleaware.co.uk

Horse racing Lucky 15 – Tuesday’s top selections

Each day Bet4Causes will mark your card, providing a preview of the day’s racing and offering what the experts feel will be the value bets of the day.

After a third consecutive winning NAP selection on Monday, take a look at our Lucky 15 selections (four singles, six doubles, four trebles and a four-fold) for the British meetings on Tuesday, December 20, 2016.

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LUCKY 15 SELECTIONS

PORT NAVAS (Taunton 3.50) is the NAP selection on a low-key racing day where little stands out. The David Pipe-trained five-year-old seeks his first success at the ninth time of asking in the 3m handicap hurdle, the last of seven races on a modest card. The selection was a distant runner-up to Generous Helpings on his handicap debut when trying 3m1f for the first time at Huntingdon in October. He jumped right at times and did so again when tried in blinkers for the first time when beaten half a length by Magic Mustard at Fontwell over 2m5½f a couple of weeks later, having made it a good test of stamina before being reeled in late on. Though he was beaten over 6l by Dropzone (who re-opposes) here over the same trip last time, that rival seldom runs two races alike and the selection is weighted to reverse that form. Any rain would help his cause.

RED COSSACK (Kempton 2.10) takes on 13 rivals in a competitive 1m handicap for the grade, the first of an eight-race card at the Sunbury track. Paul Webber’s five-year-old has one win from 13 on all-weather surfaces but has been doing better of late now that he has gone up in trip. He seems to like this track, having won (over 7f) and been placed five times in 12 starts, and has gone close on the last two occasions, both over the same trip he tackles today. A hold-up performer, he needs things to fall his way and was simply unlucky on his last two runs here, when beaten a length by Dana’s Present in October and when going down by just over a length to Baltic Prince here late last month. He runs off the same mark of 70, is not too badly drawn in stall 11 and jockey Pat Cosgrave is a very capable replacement for Jimmy Fortune.

ROYAL IRISH HUSSAR (Taunton 2.50) has not won since landing the Triumph Hurdle Trial at Cheltenham over three years ago (he was subsequently sixth in the actual Grade 1 at the Festival meeting) and was rated as high as 147. However, he had just three runs the following season and three last term, so it has been good to see him back in better form this year. He was not beaten far on his hurdling return at Newton Abbot in August, despite racing too keenly, and while he carried his head awkwardly at Plumpton on his penultimate run, he was a close-up second to decent mare Colla Pier in a 2m handicap hurdle. A beaten favourite to Poker School at Sandown last time (the winner followed up at Ascot on Saturday) when not jumping as well as he can, the Nicky Henderson-trained six-year-old now looks on a fair mark of 127 and with Ned Curtis taking off 5lb, he may well get back to winning ways as he takes on six rivals in the 2m½f handicap hurdle.

THE LOCK MASTER (Southwell 3.30) makes his return to action after seven months off and races from a revised mark of 75, which is the rating he last won off at this track in January. The Michael Appleby-trained nine-year-old is a Southwell specialist, having won seven of his 24 starts here (runner-up 13 times). He takes on 13 rivals in a low-grade 1m3f handicap and while conceding weight to all but English Summer, we expect Andrew Mullen’s mount to be more than competitive.

Taunton Races

OTHER SELECTIONS:

KEMPTON PARK: 2.10 Red Cossack (nb), 2.40 Masamah, 3.10 Snow Squaw, 3.40 Nurse Nightingale, 4.10 African Beat, 4.40 Debonaire David, 5.10 Little Orchid, 5.40 Stormbound

SOUTHWELL: 12.00 Claude Greenwood, 12.30 Jessica Jo, 1.00 Poetic Queen, 1.30 Secret Clause, 2.00 Only Ten Per Cent, 2.30 Captain Revelation, 3.00 Western Prince, 3.30 The Lock Master

TAUNTON: 12.45 Ice Konig, 1.15 Volpone Jelois, 1.45 Amour de Nuit, 2.20 You Too Pet, 2.50 Royal Irish Hussar, 3.20 Water Wagtail, 3.50 PORT NAVAS (NAP)

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Bet via Bet4Causes, where 20% of net revenue goes to sporting charities, who include Greatwood and World Horse Welfare.

You must be 18+ in order to bet. Please gamble responsibly http://www.gambleaware.co.uk

Horse racing Lucky 15 – Thursday’s top selections

Each day Bet4Causes will mark your card, providing a preview of the day’s racing and offering what the experts feel will be the value bets of the day.

Take a look at our Lucky 15 selections (four singles, six doubles, four trebles and a four-fold) for the British meetings on Thursday, December 8, 2016.

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LUCKY 15 SELECTIONS

ZEEHAN (Chelmsford City 6.55) is an eight-race maiden who has gone close on a few occasions and may finally be able to break her duck in what appears to be a very weak extended 1m5f all-weather maiden. The Clive Cox-trained three-year-old was not beaten far in a 1m2f 0-80 handicap off a mark of 72 on her last outing, having had a five-month break. She should strip fitter for that. If replicating the form of narrow defeats in a couple of turf handicaps at Nottingham and Salisbury in the spring, she merits the utmost respect against a motley crew of six rivals.

PORT NAVAS (Taunton 12.30) may be able to get off the mark at the seventh attempt over hurdles in the extended 2m7½f handicap hurdle. The David Pipe-trained five-year-old was a distant runner-up to Generous Helpings on his handicap debut at Huntingdon in October, having stepped up markedly in trip. He was then mugged late by Magic Mustard, having made much of the running in a 2m5½f affair at Fontwell, going down by half a length. It remains to be seen whether the blinkers, which he sported for the first time there, have the same benefit again, but he is going the right way and the 5lb hike in the weights should not stall that progress.

THE MUMPER (Warwick 1.55) makes his seasonal debut after a 234-day break since winning a 2m7½f handicap chase at Huntingdon in April. The Neil King-trained nine-year-old does not do anything quickly but he is resolute and consistent, qualities that will be needed if he is to beat 10 decent rivals in the 3m handicap chase. He starts the season on a mark of 117, which is 8lb higher than his last winning effort, so would need a career-best effort to take the prize.

CATCHTHEMOONLIGHT (Newcastle 2.20) won a 2m handicap hurdle at Hexham in November, getting off the mark at the 20th attempt. She had shown improved form for Lucinda Russell over the summer and won with some ease off a mark of 86. She unseated when a warm favourite next time up at Uttoxeter, running off an 8lb higher mark, before being held by Kassis in a 2m4½f mares’ handicap hurdle at Leicester 11 days ago. She lines up against 15 rivals, drops to an extended 2m trip and goes off the same mark of 86. The eight-year-old looks fairly handicapped and should go well.

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OTHER SELECTIONS:

NEWCASTLE: 12.10 Ballycrystal, 12.40 Ash Park, 1.10 Hi Bob, 1.45 Money Maid, 2.20 Catchthemoonlight, 2.50 Thankyou Very Much, 3.25 Thomas Do

TAUNTON: 12.30 Port Navas (nb), 1.00 Bistouri D’honore, 1.35 Cottesloe, 2.10 Bells Of Ailsworth, 2.40 Newsworthy, 3.15 Notarfbad, 3.50 Paris Bound

WARWICK: 12.20 Elusive Cowboy, 12.50 Tommy Rapper, 1.20 Rons Dream, 1.55 The Mumper, 2.30 What A Diva, 3.00 Highbury High, 3.35 Some Chaos

CHELMSFORD CITY: 4.20 Four Candles, 4.55 Bataka, 5.25 Menelik, 5.55 Supersta, 6.25 Pearl Acclaim, 6.55 ZEEHAN (NAP), 7.25 Graceful James

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