Saturday Horse Racing Tips
Handicap Hurdle (Class 2) – 2m5f
Nells Son 1pt Win @ 13/2
Nells Son was a very good winner on this very card 12 months ago when running in the slightly shorter 2m2f Grade 2 Premier Novices’ Hurdle – where he stayed on very strongly to beat North Lodge (142) by a short-head, when also heaving Bold Endeavour (140) 8.5 lengths behind.
Since that Grade 2 victory, Nells Son has been over fences – but he never really took to the larger obstacles in 2 attempts. Beaten a neck on debut when a discordant odds-on favourite, he then only could manage 4th in admittedly a much hotter Novices’ Chase at Carlisle – but again his jumping technique left a bit to be desired, and he equally seemed to be a little outpaced over the minimum trip.
Connections have decided to draw stumps on his Chasing career for now then, and on Cheltenham Trials Day he returned to Hurdles in a 2m1f Class 2 Handicap. Running off a mark of 137 in first time cheek-pieces, Nells Son once more seemed to get a little outpaced heading down the hill, but he boxed on well on the wide inside of the track – sticking to his task notably strongly in the closing stages for a 6th placed finish. That effort behind the likes of Hacker Des Places (141), Might I (145) and Pikar (133) looks a particularly good one, and I’m sure connection were pleased with it.
Since then Nells Son has undergone a wind operation, and the cheek-pieces which saw him able to concentrate a lot better on his last start have also been retained. Considering the way he’s stayed on over trips of 2m2f and 2m1f in the past year however I’m sure he’ll now be ready for this step up in distance to 2m5f, and the Handicapper dropping him 2lbs for what was a decent run last time to a mark of 135 is also a big help. Back at a track we know he likes having won on both starts at Kelso, I think Nells Son has a big chance here for last year’s winning trainer.
Handicap Hurdle (Class 3) – 2m 1/2f
Onemorefortheroad 1pt Each/Way @ 8/1
Black Poppy 1pt Win @ 11/2
I’ve always been a fan of Onemorefortheroad, and I’m willing to give him once last chance considering everything looks in his favour to run a big race here.
Firstly, Onemorefortheroad has dropped right down the Handicap back to a mark of 130, which is 3lbs below his last winning mark – which came at Newbury in the Listed Gerry Fielden Handicap Hurdle in November 2021 on quick ground.
It’s not all been doom and gloom since that run however, as in the interim he’s finished 2nd in the Grade 3 Betfair Exchange Trophy at Ascot off 136, 4th in the Imperial Cup off 137, and 3rd in the Grade 2 Scottish Champion Hurdle off 136. Things certainly haven’t gone to plan this season however, and despite a promising opening effort at Aintree over 2m4f, his runs since have left plenty to work on.
In November Onefortheroad was taken on for the lead at Ascot when sent off the 9/4f, eventually fading into 8th despite only being beaten 13 lengths. It was quite telling then that he wasn’t seen for another 85 days subsequently, but he returned to Newbury last month for the Betfair Hurdle – where he raced in mid-division… something this front runner seldom does.
Perhaps I’m being cynical, but I think that Newbury effort was merely a pipe-opener to have him spot on for spring targets, and although this is fairly early on in that time frame, a race back at Newbury 3lbs below his winning mark is surely a winning formula. When you bundle that in with the fact that this is the first Class 3 contest he’s been able to contest since November 2021 and that Bryony Frost (who’s form on him reads 313112) is back in the saddle, I think Onefortheroad is has been teed up to bounce off out in front again on quick ground and make them all pay.
I will also have a saver on Kerry Lee’s Black Poppy however – as he’s another with good Newbury form. This 7yo was very progressive in the early part of 2022, winning at Herefore before then landing this very race 12 months ago off a mark of 113 – beating Straw Fan Jack who’s now a 141 Chaser. On his next start he then returned to this exact same course and distance, where off a mark of 117 he then was only beaten a nose by Mark Of Gold (139), whilst having Irish Hill (134) and Straw Fan Jack 8 lengths behind. He’s since gone over fences and done little wrong in that sphere with a 2nd place effort, but he returned to Hurdles at Newbury on New Year’s Eve where he didn’t stay the 2m4f trip. Back down to 2m however will be right up his street, and his mark of 119 looks workable.