The meetings at Wincanton, Ascot and Lingfield have caught the eye of Alan Dudman, who picks three selections at decent prices for Saturday...
"He fits the profile for the contest as he looks equipped with a bit of extra stamina. And from a mark of 135, he can run a big race. The trainer might mention a handicap at Cheltenham afterwards - probably on better ground."
14:35 Lingfield - Bailey's Vimy drops in class
Betting on the all-weather on Saturday will revolve around Vimy Ridge and a dear friend Blue Bounty (who has previous in this column).
The pick though will be Vimy Ridge, who takes a drop in class on Saturday, and is armed with a career-low mark of 81 too, after the official handicapper reduced his perch a further 3lb following a poor effort at Chelmsford last time.
He has been running in 0-105 races, and is used to battling against a better standard of sprinter. The four-year-old wasn't beaten too far at Lingfield recently (in a much stronger contest than this), and the assessor has given him a chance.
A strongly run 5f suits, and he will get that here. Plus he has a decent draw with that pace to run at. He's a big price at 18.017/1 on the exchange.
15:00 Ascot - Chord to hit the high notes at Ascot
Firstly, apologies for the corny mini-headline. It was that or a toilet joke.
Pull The Chord looks an interesting runner in a traditionally hotly-contested handicap over hurdles. In fact, previous runners in this have gone on to the Cheltenham Festival afterwards - in the Coral Cup, the Martin Pipe or the Pertemps.
Some decent horses have been beaten in this too, Smad Place and Lough Derg spring to mind - the latter from a mark of 160!
The selection is an up-and-comer with a lightly-raced profile, and ran fairly well in appalling ground at Taunton on his latest start. He had top weight there, and wasn't beaten far, although his trainer Phillip Hobbs is adamant he'll improve for better ground.
I have no worries about the soft going, he's already landed handicaps in the mud, and scored as a novice in heavy - and he looked a really useful prospect when sluicing to victory at Exeter.
He fits the profile for the contest as he looks equipped with a bit of extra stamina. And from a mark of 135, he can run a big race. The trainer might mention a handicap at Cheltenham afterwards - probably on better ground!
17:05 Wincanton - Valhalla odds should be taken
Gala Ball will be hard to beat after a 12 length victory last time (and the handicapper has raised him 15lb). But Valhalla is interesting at a double-figure price in this NH Novices' Hurdle.
He made his hurdling debut at Ascot in December, and did a lot wrong in the race. He was pulling early off a steady pace, and jumped poorly throughout.
However, he made quite a big move down the far side at Ascot, and was set to make a challenge. Unfortunately when upsides the eventual winner he fluffed another hurdle, and having been shunted wide from the turn, he was heavily eased down.
Valhalla traded at 3.6013/5 that day in-running, and looks to have a bit of talent. I would price him up shorter, and trainer Colin Tizzard has called for the tongue tie.
Saturday's Recommended Bets (all half point)
Back Vimy Ridge @ 20.019/1 in the 14:35 at Lingfield
Back Pull The Chord @ 9.08/1 in the 15:00 at Ascot
Back Valhalla @ 11.010/1 in the 17:05 at Wincanton
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Alan Dudman's Weekly P/L
This Week: -2.00
Previous week: - 0.86
2015 Profit: +20.14