ITV Racing – Selections in All Seven Races at Cheltenham & Doncaster on Saturday

ITV Racing Best Bets for Saturday, January 29

Cheltenham returns to our screens on Saturday, as the home of jumps racing hosts its Trials Day ahead of the main Festival in March. Four races from Prestbury Park and three from Doncaster will be shown live on ITV on Saturday and we’ve picked a tip in all seven races below.


Torn And Frayed (1:55 Cheltenham)

With Nigel Twiston-Davies’ horses returning to better form in the last week, it may be time for TORN AND FRAYED to enter the winners circle for the first time over fences.

He can be forgiven his tame effort at Haydock last time, as the combination of heavy ground and a step up to 2m6f likely worked to his detriment. Prior to that, he had been third in what is proving to be a very strong novices’ handicap on the old course at this trip, while he also lost nothing in chasing home My Drogo over course and distance in December.

Faivoir benefited from the eight-year-old’s constant correction to the left at Ascot in what became a match between the pair and despite generally consistent efforts in decent races, despite small field sizes, he is now 2lb lower than any of his chase marks to date.

With decent ground to his liking and with Cheltenham a track he operates on, there are reasons to be confident he could go well at a decent price.


Miranda (2:10 Doncaster)

Last year’s winner MIRANDA may be carrying 8lb more than last year, due to a Grade 2 penalty incurred for that victory, but Paul Nicholls’ mare looks well set to go back-to-back in this contest.

She beat a significantly better field 12 months ago and this looks a weak renewal in behind her. Moreover, the seven-year-old, one of many horses in the Owners Group syndicate, has maintained a decent level of form ever since.

Her second at Wetherby to Molly Ollys Wishes was a very solid effort conceding the winner 2lb. The Skelton horse won again at Ascot last weekend, while Miranda won a mares’ handicap at Ludlow next time off a mark of 143. The current second favourite here, Anna Bunina, was beaten 20 lengths in handicap company off 6lb lower last time out.

The gulf in class is clear to see if she is on form and she is also the only course and distance winner in the field.


Aye Right (2:30 Cheltenham)

Chantry House should of course be favourite for this race, but there have to be doubts about whether he is genuinely top class, especially after his King George effort.

He was bewilderingly backed into favourite for the Kempton showpiece, but could not go the testing gallop. That field was far stronger than his opposition here, but it’s also arguable he won his two Grade 1s as a novice due to the misfortune of others.

Therefore, he does not appeal at odds-on. Simply The Betts could make the step up in receipt of 4lb, but his only run in both open Graded company and at three miles saw him pulled up in Aintree’s Many Clouds Chase.

As such, the admirable AYE RIGHT might be worth a chance. He finally got a deserved victory in the Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle and that form has worked out supremely well. He goes well at Cheltenham and on a decent surface, so could well shake up Chantry House if things don’t go to plan again.


Mahler Mission (2:45 Doncaster)

All seven have a realistic chance in this Grade 2, which turned into an extraordinary slog last season.

That should not happen this year with the ground set to be good at time of writing. Marginal preference is for MAHLER MISSION over the ex-Irish trained Coolbane Boy.

The latter won well on his second start for Sandy Thomson last time after losing his way before joining the Scottish handler. However, the former, still trained in Ireland by John McConnell, beat a fairly useful yardstick by a considerable margin last time at Sedgefield.

His yard had a similarly useful type in Streets Of Doyen last term and the decent surface, as well as the three-mile trip, might well suit, with jockey James Bowen in flying form recently.


Champ (3:05 Cheltenham)

Though he has not been Mr Reliable in his career so far, CHAMP really ought to be winning this off the back of his Grade 1 Long Walk Hurdle win just before Christmas.

There is no Thyme Hill for him to deal with this time, with that horse looking like the other serious Stayers’ Hurdle contender from Britain this season. Even if Philip Hobbs’ star were in attendance, Champ had a cosy 1 ¾ length margin over him at Ascot.

Chasing may have been the intended game, but Champ has only ever lost to two horses in eight hurdling starts and after jumping issues, this may just be his superior game. Ironically, with the Stayers’ Hurdle now the likely Cheltenham target, that is the only showpiece event at the Festival that A P McCoy, the jockey whom he is named after, never won.

Paisley Park simply isn’t capable of the same level of form anymore so maybe McFabulous will give Champ the most to think about, as he may now prove better over this longer distance.


Midnight Shadow (3:20 Doncaster)

The apple of Sue Smith’s eye was briefly considered for a tilt at the King George such was the delight over MIDNIGHT SHADOW’s Paddy Power Gold Cup win in November.

He is now 8lb higher than for that success, but plenty from that field have come out and won or put in good performances since, so he merits the rise. Moreover, he was third off just 1lb lower in the Racing Post Gold Cup over half-a-furlong further in December.

It is the suggestion that he was considered a King George horse that sways the favour towards him staying three miles here. Good ground should aid his cause even further and there is a strange discrepancy in his and Fusil Raffles’ prices given there is only a 2lb swing for their meeting last time.

Grand Sancy is one who is capable of far better than his mark of 136 and should also be monitored carefully.


Hillcrest (3:40 Cheltenham)

With Nicky Henderson having turned out such a raft of talented novice hurdlers this season, Balco Coastal is strongly respected.

However, one such Seven Barrows inmate, I Am Maximus, was comprehensively outgalloped by the giant HILLCREST at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day and Henry Daly has been gushing in his praise for this horse.

He has taken up this option ahead of the River Don Novices’ Hurdle at Doncaster earlier in the day and that looks a wise decision with a course and distance victory already under his belt. Three miles may well prove his trip as a chaser, but the seven-year-old is already powerful enough over this intermediate trip.

Daly believes he may be up there with the best he has trained and he can conced 5lb to the Henderson horse here.