Doncaster and Newbury host top quality racing this weekend and there are two stand-out selections that Betfair customers can use to build their free bet pot for the Cheltenham Festival which is just two weeks away.
Greatwood winner to triumph once more
The Morebattle Hurdle (15:15) is the main event at Kelso on Saturday and it has predictably attracted a competitive field for an excellent prize money pot.
As well as the money on offer on the day, there is also a £100,000 bonus on offer for a horse that wins this race and goes on to follow up in any race at the Cheltenham Festival, so that is worth considering in the immediate aftermath of this race in terms of potential ante-post bets.
Emmet Mullins may well have such an ambitious plan in mind for The Shunter should he get the job done at Kelso and he looks to have an excellent chance of at least completing the first leg of a potential double.
The eight-year-old has improved substantially since joining his current connections, winning the Greatwood Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham's November meeting in great style on his penultimate start off just a 6lb lower mark than he runs off today.
Since then he ran an extraordinary race in a highly-competitive renewal of the Matheson Handicap Chase at the Dublin Racing Festival, racing up with the pace until his saddle slipped badly back exiting the back straight. Having lost his position somewhat soon after, he rallied in the closing stages to finish a close third. Even if his saddle hadn't slipped, the finish was dominated by horses that were ridden with far more restraint, so it really was an excellent run all things considered.
The Shunter may well ideally want a longer trip than this, but his win in the Greatwood suggests that he might just get away with it. He is likely to be tough to beat.
Place opportunity for Henry Oliver's veteran
Over at Newbury the Veterans' Handicap Chase (13:15) brings together some great old characters, few of which have got more stick over the years than the Henry Oliver-trained Singlefarmpayment.
It's been over four years since he has got his head in front and in that time he has been beaten by a head or less on three occasions, most notably in the Ultima Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in 2017. He has fallen 13lb from his peak rating and clearly isn't quite the horse he once was, but he has shaped well enough in recent starts to suggest he might yet have one more win in him.
For a horse with his profile, it has always been a surprise that his connections have persevered with running him around Cheltenham so much. He is relatively unexposed around flatter, more galloping tracks such as this and he shapes like one that should be suited by it.
His prospects were somewhat scuppered by late rain on his latest start, but he looks likely to get a sound surface to race on here. Putting him up as a win proposition is a difficult thing to do given just how hard it is to win with him, but those who support him for a place on the Betfair Exchange may well get rewarded.