ITV are showing a bumper NINE races on Saturday, which includes the pick of the action from Aintree and Sandown. The latter hosts a trio of Grade 1’s, including the Tingle Creek Chase and the rescheduled Fighting Fifth Hurdle, where Constitution Hill is set to make his eagerly anticipated return to action.
GG editor Tom Aldridge is on hand to give his tips for all nine races. Back his selections with BetMGM’s HUGE new customer offer of £40 in Free Bets when you deposit and bet £10!
12.55pm Aintree – Boylesports Houghton Mares’ Chase (Class 1 Listed)
I think ZAMBELLA should take all the beating in this. Having won the last two renewals, she finished ahead of Pink Legend twice last season, although she did finish behind at Cheltenham. This isn’t Cheltenham though and I don’t see how Pink Legend can get the better of her here! Nigel Twiston-Davies’ star mare will relish the soft ground, unlike Venetia Williams’ runner, and her record in December reads 1111 (4-4). She’s one of the most confident bets for me on Saturday.
1.15pm Sandown – Betfair Fighting Fifth Hurdle (Grade 1)
No need to go into too much detail for this one, Constitution Hill simply wins and wins well. He won the race last year by 12 lengths and it would be no surprise if he won it by further this time around. He’s a short enough price though and I couldn’t tip a 2/9 shot. Instead, for an each-way play I would side with Harry Fry’s LOVE ENVOI, who is 2/2 on seasonal return and is also 3/3 at Sandown. She should be chasing home Nicky Henderson’s superstar, but I don’t think it will be close.
1.50pm Sandown – Betfair Henry VIII Novices’ Chase (Grade 1)
I backed JPR ONE at Cheltenham last month and was already on my way to collect my winnings when he pulled clear two out, only for him to agonisingly stumble and unseat the rider at the last. He would have won that comfortably that day and I’m sure he would be a shorter price for this if he did so. I’m willing to forgive him that blip and think he should be tough to beat here. Colonel Harry is the obvious danger having won nicely on chase debut last month, but I really feel JPR One could prove to be the best 2 mile novice chaser for the Brits at the Festival this year and he’s a strong fancy to win this.
2.05pm Aintree – BoyleSports Becher Handicap Chase (Class 1 Premier Handicap)
I’ve gone through the runners multiple times trying to find one to take on ASHTOWN LAD with, but I keep coming back to last year’s winner. He ticks plenty of the trends for the race and is only rated 2lb higher than when winning the race last year. He’s already had the one run this season and Dan Skelton’s runners have almost all improved on their second run, so I think he should be fully set to make a bold bid to land back-to-back renewals. The one I like at a bit of a price is Chambard, who is untested over these unique fences but has some good form and looks overpriced.
2.25pm Sandown – Rachael Blackmore Serial Winners Fund Handicap Hurdle (Class 2)
I really like the chances of JILAIJONE in this. David Pipe’s 4YO has some excellent form, notably when finishing a two length runner-up behind Blueking D’Oroux, who has since franked the form by winning the Grade 2 Coral Hurdle next time out. He had Spirit D’Aunou over ten lengths behind that day too, and is now 1lb better off with that rival here, so I expect him to confirm that form. Last time out he finished a three length third behind Gin Coco and Faivoir at Ascot at the end of last month, and I think he’ll be much more at home on softer ground. He looks overpriced to me and I think he’s one of the better E/W bets on Saturday.
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2.40pm Aintree – BoyleSports Daily Money Back 2nd Juvenile Hurdle (Class 1 Listed)
You don’t tend to get many shocks in this race – each of the last ten renewals has seen the winners priced at 4/1 or shorter, which essentially means we should focus on the top three in the betting. Of those, I think LE FAUVE looks one who could be the one to have the biggest potential. His debut effort at Bordeaux has worked out nicely, with the winner running out an easy winner of a better race next time out, and now with Dan Skelton, I think he could prove an exciting recruit to his team. Paul Nicholls has won three of the last six renewals so his Liari looks to be his biggest threat, but I’m excited to see what Le Fauve can do here.
3.00pm Sandown – Betfair Tingle Creek Chase (Grade 1)
Another Grade 1 that features a short priced favourite who should bolt up. Jonbon is by far the classiest runner in here and should win this relatively easily, having oozed class when cruising to victory in the Shloer Chase at Cheltenham last month. Unlike the Fighting Fifth though, I think this will just have the four runners in it, with Edwardstone set to head to Huntingdon on Sunday, so I have little choice but to put up JONBON as the selection. None of the others should come close to him and he should win this without having to put in maximum effort. If (big if) Edwardstone did turn up here, he would be a good E/W alternative to backing Jonbon to win, as he represents a bit more value and should be repeating the 1-2 position the pair achieved in the Shloer Chase.
3.15pm Aintree – BoyleSports Extra Place Races Handicap Hurdle (Class 2)
SONIGINO should really take all the beating in this. His third here back in April makes for excellent reading and his fourth in the Greatwood last time out was a solid effort and it’s a race I expect to work out extremely well in the long run. He runs off top weight here but I’m fully expecting his class to prevail here, especially with Harry Cobden back on board, having had Freddie Gingell on board in the Greatwood. He’s a good price and although this race might look fairly open, I think Sonigino is the standout in the field and it would be a shock if he finished out of the top three.
3.35pm Sandown – Betfair Exchange London National Handicap Chase (Class 2)
FONTAINE COLLONGES has an impressive record when fresh and is now only 1lb above her last winning mark, so just shades my vote in this. When returning after a 150+ day break, her record reads 11341 (3-5), and having undergone wind surgery over the summer, I’m optimistic Venetia Williams will have her fully primed for a big run on seasonal reappearance. She’s also won twice from four runs at this level and the soft ground will suit, with her last two winners coming on soft or worse going. Conditional jockey Ned Fox takes off a valuable 5lb, and considering he has a 36% strike-rate over fences this season, he’s an excellent alternative to regular jockey Charlie Deutsch. Fontaine Collonges looks to have an excellent chance and I’m confident we can sign off the ITV races with a winner here.
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