A mix of flat and jump racing this Easter Saturday and we begin our preview at Musselburgh where in the opener I hope to see Port Swtan (1.30) back up his recent C&D win from just a 3lbs higher mark. The selection was drawn in stall 2 on that occasion – his first start for Garry Moss – and he has been fortunate enough to draw stall one this afternoon. That course win was also his first run since being gelded and he gets the each way vote at 9/2 with BetVictor.
I’m going to take a chance on Ulster (3.35) in the feature Queen’s Cup even though the selection is having his first start on turf. Archie Watson’s grey is one of a number of potential front-runners in the field, but if Hollie Doyle can get him to the rail from his good draw in stall 6 then I feel this lightly-raced 4-y-old might be able to lead them all a merry dance. He must prove he can be as effective on turf, but he is closely related to turf as well as all-weather winners. The selection is 11/2 with BetVictor who are betting each way 4 places on the 14-runner event.
Mont Kimbalu (4.05) has been raised 5lbs for scoring at Pontefract last time but he remains 8lbs lower than his highest winning mark on fast ground and I feel he can follow up for Kevin Ryan.
At Kempton Rainbow Heart finished third on debut at Newmarket behind this week’s impressive Nell Gwyn winner Qabala before easily landing the odds back at HQ under Ryan Moore in October. This step up to a mile should suit, but marginal preference is for Nausha (2.35) who won her sole start at Newbury on debut for Roger Varian and still holds an entry in the 1000 Guineas and Oaks.
Varian has his string in cracking form and in a recent interview in the Racing Post the trainer said he hoped Nausha was Group class and this race would decide whether she would stay at a mile or possibly take in an Oaks trial.
In the corresponding Conditions event for the boys Senza Limiti (3.10) can make it two out of two for William Haggas having won his sole juvenile start at Salisbury back in October. Note the selection was taken out of a race at Thirsk earlier in the month because of the prevailing good to firm ground. Oisin Murphy takes the mount on a colt who holds entries in the Dante and Irish 2000 Guineas.
Rawdaa (3.45) is a filly I feel might be worth following this flat season although it is likely that she will be seen at her very best over slightly further. Sir Michael Stoute is peerless when it comes to bringing along slow-maturing fillies and, irrespective of how she performs today, I do feel Rawdaa is one to keep onside this season. Note BetVictor are betting each way 4 places.
There is a cracking card at Haydock and Duel At Dawn (2.40) ran his best race of the season when third at Exeter last time from a 2lbs higher mark in first time blinkers. It has not been a great season for trainer Alex Hales but I hope the each way selection (10/1 at BetVictor) can run a big race.
Django Django (3.15) was a beaten favourite when last seen here back in January but his subsequent absence from the track would suggest that something was amiss with Jonjo O’Neill’s lightly-raced hurdler. The selection is 9/1 at BetVictor and is another each way selection.
There are a couple of Grade 1 races at Fairyhouse tomorrow – Irish Grand National on Monday – but in the Novice Chase I hope to see Aint Dunne Yet (3.20) follow up his recent Leopardstown success. The conditions of the race suit Noel Meade’s 8-year-old who was an unlucky loser – came down at the last – on his penultimate start.
Voix Du Reve (4.25) has failed to complete in his last couple of starts but, granted a clear round, he can take the Grade 1 Ryanair Gold Cup for Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh. Winter Escape burst a blood vessel last time but was progressive prior to disappointing at the Dublin Festival although he has been given plenty of time to get over that effort.
At Plumpton on Sunday I hope to see Tzar De L’Elfe (3.55) go one better than when runner up on his last couple of starts including over C&D from a 3lbs lower mark on his penultimate start.