Three of our team members will be wagering their £20 a week on Saturday’s racing, helping you to build your Cheltenham Festival free £50 pot.
Over the next five weeks, Neil Hubbard, Nathan Joyes and Timeform’s Andy Asquith will be selecting their best picks across UK and Irish racing.
There may not be any bragging in the office, but I’m sure the winner will still be loud and proud via Zoom.
With all that pride at stake, let’s kick things off with this weekend’s selections.
Andy’s Lingfield Banker
Water of Leith – 14:00 Lingfield: 6/4 (£20)
Only four runners for this useful handicap but I have been impressed by the manner in which Water of Leith has taken to the all-weather. He showed much improved form on his first start since undergoing a gelding operation when bolting up at Wolverhampton in December and progressed again to beat a well-regarded sort over the same course and distance last time.
There was no fluke about that success, either, again winning with a bit up his sleeve and a good timefigure backed up the visual impression. The runner-up that day has since won snugly, so the form has a solid look to it, and Water of Leith is very interesting now handicapping from a mark of 91. Charlie Fellowes and Secret Handsheikh may fight it out for the lead, so Water of Leith should get a good toe into the race, and I expect him to go very close.
Neil’s headline act
Jackstar – 17:45 Wolverhampton: 4/1 £10 Win & £10 Place
The combination of the drop to 6f and the fitting of first-time blinkers didn’t agree with Jackstar last time at Lingfield but the return to Wolverhampton and 7f (course and distance record reads 1-1-4) can see him return to winning ways.
He has quirks (is fitted with a hood instead of blinkers here) and his last win was way back in December 2019 but that came over this course and distance off a mark of 79 in class 4 company.
He lines up here off a mark of a 4lb lower mark and, making just his fifth start for trainer Mark Loughnane, he has enough ability to be making his presence felt in class 5 races for his new stable.
Nathan’s hat-trick seeker
Tone The Barone – 19:15 Wolverhampton: 13/8 £20
We’ve gone from a mouth-watering weekend of racing to just all-weather cards, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any opportunities. Lingfield, Chelmsford and Wolverhampton all take the spotlight, but I’m purely focusing on the evening card at Wolverhampton.
Tone The Barone in the 19:15 caught my eye when looking through the cards and after re-watching his success last time out at Chelmsford, I’m happy to put him down for the full £20.
Returning from a 139-day break, Stuart Williams’ horse didn’t have the clearest run, but he was still able to angle out and win by a head. Make no mistake, this is far from easy to do over a sharp five furlongs and he will only be fitter for the run. If he was given a clear run on that occasion, he’d be a much shorter price than 13/8 on Saturday evening.
Marco Ghiana, who’s four from eleven, takes over from Callum Rodriguez, which is another plus in my opinion. There’s plenty of course and distance winners in this field, but I’m hoping Tone The Barone can make it three wins on the spin.