Donald McCain: The verdict on my Saturday runners

Ballabriggs returns to action at Aintree this afternoon.
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A busy afternoon for Donald with runners at all four National Hunt meetings around the country...

"On last season's hurdling form he (Overafrica) looks very well handicapped off 97, the trip should suit him and he handles the ground...."

12.00 Aintree - Glyn Ceiriog

I thought she ran a really nice race at Uttoxeter on her debut when she was runner-up but she was a bit keen at Bangor last time before she unseated Henry. It looks a good, competitive novice hurdle but I would like to think that she would have an each-way chance if returning to that debut form.

13.05 Aintree - Across The Bay

The race has cut up quite a bit which is a bonus! It's another step up in class for him - he's up against some smart horses - but he has done nothing wrong back over fences for us this year and these are the sort of races he has to run in now. I think these small fields suit him quite well, not that he has shown any signs of lacking confidence over fences, and he ought to give another good account.

13.35 Aintree - Beeves

It's in the back of my mind that he might want better ground but he did win a bumper on heavy so it won't be an excuse. He is going to stay further than this in time but this should be a proper test in the ground and his stamina ought to be a positive. I think he is on a fair handicap mark but it's the sort of mark that makes sense to run here, rather than under a penalty in a novice hurdle.

14.10 Aintree - Ballabriggs

He's in cracking form at home and we have done a lot more with him this time round. Obviously we know he likes the place but realistically he has a big task on under top weight on heavy ground. He might have got away with it on better ground - he's only 6lb higher than for his National win, after all - but I'm under no illusion that it will be easy.


He's in good nick and he's ready for a run - the run in October has brought him on and he's got a lovely weight. He jumped round here well enough in April, he stays and has won in the mud so there's no reason why he wouldn't give a good account.

14.45 Aintree - Constant Contact

He was up against it in a hot race at Cheltenham last time and the handicapper has been in charge since he won at Cartmel in the summer. He was a miler on the Flat but I just felt it might be worth stepping him up in trip - if he does improve for it, he's not on a bad mark on his best form.

Saga De Tercey

He did well in the spring but the handicapper went to town and even though he is slowly coming down the weights, I still think he is badly handicapped. This is probably a bit too competitive but it's the sort of race we are forced to run in at the moment.

13.25 Sandown - Son Of Flicka

He seems to have got a bit of confidence back in his jumping of late and running him in a Pertemps qualifier does open up a few options for later in the season. The trip on the ground might stretch him but hopefully he will see his race out.

15.40 Sandown - Lively Baron

I think he probably wants better ground but this is a weak race for the money and this sort of trip should suit him very well. He's been in good order this winter and still looks on a mark that he ought to be competitive off. As I say, this is much less competitive than I was expecting it to be and he ought to go close if it isn't too soft for him.

13.15 Wetherby - Hurraboru

He has been handicapped on his form in the summer and it's simply not as competitive as the racing now. He didn't run too badly at Uttoxeter on his return but I think he is badly handicapped and it would be a pleasant surprise if he were to prove me wrong.

14.20 Wetherby - Unknown Rebel

He looks on a stiff mark from his juvenile hurdling days. The headgear hasn't had much effect on his last two starts and it's off this time. This looks a competitive handicap and, realistically, I wouldn't think he was well enough treated to be winning it.

14.55 Wetherby - Overafrica

He's been very disappointing over fences so far and I can't really put my finger on why. This looks a bad race though and I have stuck the blinkers on him so hopefully he will show a bit more this time. On last season's hurdling form he looks very well handicapped off 97, the trip should suit him and he handles the ground. The fact that it's such a bad race does give me some optimism!

12.25 Chepstow - Mount Hope

His jumping was a bit disappointing on his hurdling debut at Bangor and I have tried to get plenty of schooling into him since. I am sure there is plenty of ability there and the more practice he gets, the better he will get. This doesn't look a bad race and I am not sure about the ground but he has a bright future.


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