ITV Racing – Selections in All Eleven Races This Weekend!
ITV Racing Best Bets for Saturday, February 5
There is a jam-packed schedule on ITV this weekend with live coverage from Sandown, Musselburgh and Wetherby as well as two feature Grade 1 contests from the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown. Our expert editor has provided a selection from each race on ITV this weekend.
Tamaroc Du Mathan (1:15 Sandown)
A sizeable drop in grade could see a return to form for Grade 2 winning chaser TAMAROC DU MATHAN. Paul Nicholls’ charge was last seen pulling up in the Old Roan at Aintree in October last year but had previously begun his chasing campaign in some style, winning two out of his first three starts over the larger obstacles with his only defeat coming at the hands of unbeaten chaser and star novice Shishkin in the Wayward Lad at Kempton.
The seven-year-old now finds himself 1lb lower than when taking a Grade 2 novice chase at Kempton last season and as is often the case, Tamaroc Du Mathan is certainly best when fresh off a layoff and he will be a big danger to all if rediscovering his impressive novice form.
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Fil Dor (1:35 Leopardstown)
Vauban was a 0.5l second on hurdling debut at Punchestown to recent impressive Cheltenham scorer Pied Piper and although that was a tremendous opening effort over timber, the four-year-old didn’t overly impress in the jumping department and he will need to be much slicker to conquer FIL DOR who has looked a top-class juvenile for trainer Gordon Elliot.
After dismantling a field at Down Royal, Fil Dor gamely saw off the challenge of Lunar Power in Grade 3 company at Fairyhouse before readily making it three from three when carrying a penalty at Leopardstown, comfortably going clear under jockey Davy Russell to win the Grade 2 contest by 7l.
Although this Grade 1 will be his toughest test to date, Gordon Elliot’s charge will be tough to beat with proven form in the book and is firmly one to keep on side.
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Song For Someone (1:50 Sandown)
SONG FOR SOMEONE was desperately unlucky not to make it back to back International Hurdle victories last time out in December. The seven-year-old was doing all his best work late in the day but ultimately failed to real in Guard Your Dreams as they climbed to the finish.
Tom Symonds’ charge was having to concede 6lbs to the aforementioned Twiston-Davies runner on that occasion and now faces that reopposing rival off level weights this weekend which should see Song For Someone turn the tables and return to winning ways.
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Glen Forsa (2:05 Musselburgh)
Ten-year-olds have a strong record in these Veteran contests and it is no surprise to see them dominating the market as things currently stand. Calipso Collonges ran a mighty race to finish third in the Tommy Whittle last time out but may ideally want a testing surface to be seen to best effect.
Cool Mix will be looking to give Scottish trainer Ian Jardine a winner but isn’t the most reliable and has only won twice from eighteen starts over the larger obstacles.
With the yard sending out a few winners in recent weeks, GLEN FORSA appears well treated off just 129 having previously won for Mick Channon off a mark of 138 when defeating Kalashnikov in a Grade 2 novice at Kempton.
Despite his form eventually tailing off for previous connections, Glen Forsa has shaped with promise in his opening outings for Charlie Longsdon and certainly possesses enough ability at this stage of his career to land this contest.
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L’homme Presse (2:20 Sandown)
Only six runners are scheduled to head to post in the Grade 1 Scilly Isles but it appears to be a match between impressive last time out winners Pic D’orhy and L’HOMME PRESSE with a preference for the latter as Venetia Williams’ seven-year-old will look to maintain his unbeaten start over the larger obstacles.
After comfortably disposing of subsequent scorer Gunsight Ridge on chasing debut at Exeter, L’homme Presse comfortably accounted for Legends Ryde by 13l when powering clear at Ascot in Class 2 company.
A career-best effort followed last time out where the seven-year-old bounded up the Cheltenham hill to see off a competitive Grade 2 field by 10l under jockey Charlie Deutsch. The manner of that victory highlighted him as one of the best novice chasers seen in Britain this campaign and with the prospect of more to come, he looks hard to oppose.
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Ahoy Senor (2:30 Wetherby)
All eyes will be on AHOY SENOR as Lucinda Russell’s star novice will look to bounce back to winning form after being no match for the exciting Bravemansgame in the Kauto Star at Kempton on Boxing Day.
Connections will be confident he can still be a serious player in the Festival Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham next month but he was ultimately let down by his jumping over Christmas which saw Paul Nicholls’ star novice saunter clear in the closing stages at Kempton.
Although he will have to brush up his technique over the obstacles, there is no doubt he possesses the intrinsic ability to be a real force in the novice chase division and considering Lucinda Russell’s charge looks to have the improving Saint Palais to contend with on Saturday, Ahoy Senor should have enough class to see him return to winning ways.
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Highly Prized (2:40 Musselburgh)
Emma Lavelle has enjoyed notable weekend success with Eclair Surf impressively landing the Classic Handicap Chase at Warwick last month, before stable star Paisley Park roared back to form when dourly staying on best of all to take the Cleeve Hurdle last weekend.
The Wiltshire based trainer can strike gold again this Saturday with HIGHLY PRIZED who reverts back over the smaller obstacles having finished runner-up on chasing debut on his only start under rules in 2021.
Despite missing the majority of last season, Highly Prized had looked like a progressive novice hurdler winning three of his opening four starts in novice and handicap company. Off the back of those taking performances, Emma Lavelle’s charge was subject to strong market support in the Grade 3 Betfair Hurdle but ultimately was disappointing, weakening out of contention after leading for the majority of the way.
The nine-year-old now finds himself 1lb lower than when finishing a neck second in this company at Stratford and is certainly worth chancing given his impressive record when returning from a layoff (1-1-1-0-5-2).
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Ree Okka (2:55 Sandown)
It was hard not to be impressed when REE OKKA cantered to success at Kempton last time out on just his third racecourse outing. Harry Fry’s progressive novice had previously finished runner-up to Gelino Bello at Aintree on debut before displaying a staggering turn of foot to power away from his rivals at Chepstow over an extended 2m3f.
Harry Fry had long been adamant that 3miles would be Ree Okka’s ideal trip and so it proved at Kempton last time out as the six-year-old barely came out of first gear under jockey Sean Bowen to come away from his rivals and win by 6l.
Ree Okka will face his toughest test to date on Saturday now venturing into Grade 3 company but after his recent dominant victory, he is one to follow with the prospect of plenty more to come as the season unfolds.
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Asterion Forlonge (3:15 Leopardstown)
Despite the star-studded lineup for the Irish Gold Cup, the majority have question marks surrounding them in some shape or form.
Likely favourite Kemboy will be fancied in his bid to make it back to back wins in this particular contest after returning to form when finishing third in the Savills Chase last time out. However, he is often susceptible to finding one or two too good and isn’t one for maximum faith given that he suffered wide-margin defeats prior to that return to form.
Gold Cup hero Minella Indo will need to bounce back from two disappointing efforts, including when pulling up in the King George over Christmas. Whilst British challenger Frodon will have competition for the lead and may have his work cut out this time around.
Although his jumping often lets him down in his races, the vote goes to ASTERION FORLONGE who was in the process of running a mighty race in the King George when last seen at Kempton before falling at the last flight.
The eight-year-old looked set for second place behind surprise winning stablemate Tornado Flyer before coming to grief but had put in a polished round of jumping up until that final obstacle and was in the process of running his best race for some time despite it being his first attempt over 3miles under rules.
The way in which Asterion Forlonge travelled throughout that contest suggests that he could be a real force when putting it all together over this distance and is worth chancing at the prices.
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Le Milos (3:30 Sandown)
LE MILOS has seemingly benefited since going over the larger obstacles for connections, recording two victories from his opening five starts over fences.
After landing a novice handicap chase at Fontwell last campaign, Tim Vaughan’s charge found the frame at Kelso over an extended 2m6f, staying on in the closing stages in a race that was certainly not run to suit.
Since returning this season, the seven-year-old has appreciated the step up to 3miles, finishing an eye-catching second on the penultimate start at Exeter before sauntering to success over the same course and distance on New Years Day.
Le Milos will have to step up on those recent efforts now tackling established staying performers but he remains unexposed at the distance and is the type to continue improving from a mark of 139.
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Highland Hunter (3:45 Musselburgh)
The Edinburgh National is the concluding race on ITV’s packed Saturday Racing schedule and despite shouldering top-weight, it will take a special performance from one of the others to lower the colours of HIGHLAND HUNTER who finished second in the Welsh Grand National over the festive period behind runaway winner Iwilldoit.
Prior to that runner-up effort in Chepstow’s showpiece event, Highland Hunter proved his aptitude for marathon trips at Sandown when gamely fending off the challenge of course-specialist Deise Aba over an extended 3m4f to prevail by a nose. That winning effort made even more remarkable considering he made a noticeable error mid-race and almost unshipped jockey Harry Cobden.
Paul Nicholls’ charge will have a welter burden to carry once more but he remains a smart staying prospect and is the one they all have to beat.