ITV Racing – Selections from Saturday’s Bumper Eight Race Show on ITV4
ITV Racing Best Bets for Saturday, January 8
ITV Racing opens at the slightly earlier time of 1:10pm on ITV4 on Saturday. The show will be hosting four races each from Wincanton and Sandown and our expert has a selection from all eight.
Planned Paradise (1:30 Wincanton)
The opener on ITV showcases those further down the pyramid at Wincanton. As is normally the case in such races, it is worth looking for those who may be able to climb up the ladder to greater things.
Pittsburg could be fascinating after winning at Catterick when very well backed last month. He had previously shown no form and the market may guide.
However, on form alone, the one open to most improvement is PLANNED PARADISE for Neil Mulholland. He had been sixth in a trio of maiden hurdles, with the second of those the best guide.
In the first he was surely too green, while he faded over 2m4f in the third. In the second, he put in his best performance and then cruised to success on his handicap debut. A similar result is likely despite an 11lb rise.
Numitor (1:50 Sandown)
Gunsight Ridge is a short price to get a first victory over fences. He gave the L’Homme Presse a decent race getting just 1lb five weeks ago and given what Venetia Williams’ charge has gone on to do in the intermediary, a mark of 130 could have him thrown in.
However, the return to this trip on soft ground is far from guaranteed to help his cause, whereas NUMITOR has won on both soft and heavy, and also has a win over fences to his credit already.
Three of Heather Main’s seven winners as a trainer over jumps have come courtesy of this horse, who bumped into the extremely well-handicapped Il Ridoto at Newbury in November. That horse contested a Grade 1 just a week later and the 2lb rise for Numitor could look generous in the circumstances.
The discrepancy in prices makes him the call and Tom Scudamore can break a remarkable Sandown duck: he has no winners from 31 rides in the last five years despite 11 of those finishing in the top four.
Glajou (2:05 Wincanton)
It should be no surprise that Paul Nicholls has his yard in fine form, with a 61% run to form ratio a particularly excellent record.
Moreover, of jockeys with over 150 rides this season, only Harry Cobden, Nico de Boinville and Paddy Brennan have a better win percentage this season than Bryony Frost.
Frost is the only name in that list who is not the no.1 jockey for a significant stable and her and Nicholls combine with GLAJOU who is now down to a career low mark.
He won easily at Southwell in December 2020 off a mark of 124 and is back on 123 after finishing fifth at Taunton. The drop in trip should be in his favour again and this lethal combination can strike once again.
Constitution Hill (2:25 Sandown)
It’s tempting to find an each-way alternative to the odds-on favourite, but the other five runner look much of a muchness. CONSTITUTION HILL on the other hand, might be out of the very top drawer.
It is easy to get carried away after one performance, but it was very difficult not to be taken by his effort on debut over course and distance. He put 14 lengths between himself and the potentially useful Might I after the last hurdle alone, showing a killer turn of foot that could serve him very well when he meets sterner opposition.
Whether that arrives in this race is questionable, but one certainty is that it would be very disappointing were he not to back that effort up. He is currently second favourite for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and even stablemate Jonbon can struggle to match the visual impression left by Constitution Hill so far
The ground was officially good-to-soft on his debut, but may well have cut up slightly more, so a soft surface should not worry connections.
Crossing The Bar (2:40 Wincanton)
This is another very competitive handicap hurdle at Wincanton to embellish the action on ITV.
The leading pair in this emerge from novice company. The fact that neither have won is no barrier given this will be both’s first venture into handicaps.
Blairgowrie represents more powerful connections, but CROSSING THE BAR has arguably achieved as much, but the handicapper has, so far, rated him 4lb lower. As such, that weight difference could well prove to be a difference.
The former has contested slightly stronger races, but the latter has come closer to winning. What level either eventually find their home at is unknown, but the more experienced handicappers could well look exposed in comparison to this duo and it is Philip Hobbs’ five-year-old who gets the verdict.
Aso (3:00 Sandown)
Veterans’ events are always popular for viewers and ready preference is for the formerly top class ASO.
He’ll be conceding at least 9lb all round here, but even though he has just turned 12, he deemed competitive enough to run in a Gold Cup within the last 12 months. He was also second in Listed company at Kelso.
This season he raced in his first veterans’ event, finishing a gallant second to Blaklion at Haydock. He is only 2lb higher and the winner has since hacked up in another such race of this kind.
This trip and ground is now almost certainly what he would prefer and he may yet be able to compete in open handicaps. It would be a surprise if he were beaten.
Killer Clown (3:15 Wincanton)
The market currently has all six runners in weight order with top-weight Stolen Silver holding favouritism and The Cathal Dan at the foot of both.
Settled in the middle is KILLER CLOWN, who is entitled to another chance by punters after finishing sixth at Newbury last time.
The drop back to 2m 4f is to his benefit for starters, with the extra 2 ½ furlongs he embarked upon the last day clearly finding his stamina wanting. However, he had travelled into that race nicely and was still leading when blundering at the second last and losing all chance.
He ended up fading significantly, but he has run well on softer ground before and should be much more at home back in distance. The easing of 3lb in the handicap seems too much for his latest performance.
Navajo Pass (3:35 Sandown)
Hermes Boy most closely resembles last year’s winner Guard Your Dreams in terms of profile, but top-weight NAVAJO PASS seems to be unfairly ignored so far in the market.
This is a horse who beat dual Champion Hurdler Buveur D’Air last season, giving him 3lb. He may not be the force of old, but that was still a serious performance from Donald McCain’s charge. His trainer is having a miraculous term, having comfortably surpassed his win tally for the last three seasons.
His 23% strike rate this season is also his best since he started having regular runners and Navajo Pass is only 3lb higher than his winning mark from New Year’s Day last year, a race in which he bolted up at Musselburgh.
This is a shorter trip, but it is back on ground he prefers, which means his reappearance run, one he often needs, can be ignored.