Saturday Sizzlers – Five Away From Cheltenham
Five Horses to Note Away From Cheltenham on Saturday
As it always does, racing at Cheltenham takes the headlines on Saturday. However, there are a raft of star names appearing at tracks elsewhere in Britain and Ireland too. Here are five to look out for at Doncaster and Fairyhouse on Saturday.
Third Time Lucki (1:35 Doncaster)
Won last year by Shishkin, the Lightning Novices’ Chase at Doncaster plays host to Dan Skelton’s THIRD TIME LUCKI for this renewal.
He is one of the leading British hopes for the Arkle at the Cheltenham Festival and was hugely impressive in winning his first two chase starts at Prestbury Park. His free-going nature saw him fly over his fences and none of his rivals could touch him.
However, his strong galloping was to prove his undoing at Sandown next time out in Grade 1 company. He pulled far too hard in front under Harry Skelton, making mistakes by running far too exuberantly into his fences. The talented Edwardstone ultimately breezed past him.
There should be much more to come from Third Time Lucki though, especially if he settles. Another front-runner, For Pleasure is in opposition here and that could prove immensely useful as he looks to regain the winning thread.
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Western Victory (2:10 Doncaster)
Although defending champion Miranda is an obvious favourite for this race, WESTERN VICTORY is the most interesting runner in the race.
The nine-year-old had been a very useful mare in Ireland, winning at Listed level in October. Her transfer to Emma Lavelle’s was always going to be an interesting move, especially as she is far from a novice.
Under unusually impatient tactic with Tom Bellamy aboard, she was readily caught and passed on her stable debut over three miles at Ascot last weekend. However, her Listed win came over two miles on good ground and last week’s run looks as much like the stable were experimenting with her distance and running style capabilities.
Her form suggests this will be much more to her liking and the fact she is turned out only one week later is a statement of intent by Lavelle.
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Fusil Raffles (3:20 Doncaster)
There will not be too many classier horses seen in the handicap circuit than FUSIL RAFFLES.
In the colours of Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, he has already proven to be a tremendous servant for connections. He was a Grade 1 winning juvenile hurdler, also scoring over the smaller obstacles in Grade 2 company.
Over fences, he was second to stablemate Chantry House in the Marsh Novices’ Chase. However, his biggest prize was landed, albeit fortuitously, in the Charlie Hall at Wetherby in October. That preceded a decent effort in his first handicap when fourth in the Racing Post Gold Cup.
He is down 1lb for that, though and another crack at three miles certainly looks worth it for Nicky Henderson’s seven-year-old.
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Bacardys (12:00 Fairyhouse)
The opening race of the entire day in Britain and Ireland comes from Fairyhouse on Saturday and looks a cracker.
The likes of Egality Mans, Floueur, Frontal Assault and Grand Paradis will surely be winning over fences in time, but the 11-year-old, BACARDYS still retains a lot of ability. He looks the likeliest winner.
He was a Grade 1 winning hurdler after all and on what was effectively his second chase debut in November, he chased home Bob Olinger, pulling clear of the third. The horse who finished a place behind him was Master McShee, a Grade 1 winner next time out.
Although he could not live with top level company himself, Bacardys still ran well for a long way. Back to 2m5 ½f, he should have too much for his opposition.
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Allegorie De Vassy (1:40 Fairyhouse)
The current favourite for the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, ALLEGORIE DE VASSY is declared to step up to Graded company for the first time on Saturday.
She won very comfortably on her debut for Willie Mullins, which came over course and distance on New Year’s Day. She also represents the same combination of Rich Ricci and Willie Mullins who won the first two editions of the Mares’ Novices’ in 2016 and 2017.
This race will test her limits to far greater extents than her first run. Indeed the dangers all look to be stablemates, with both Brandy Love and Grangee very highly rated as well.