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We’re off to Woodford County on the outskirts of Uttoxeter

| 14.03.2015

We may all be still suffering from a Cheltenham Festival comedown, and after seeing Coneygree take the big one, the first novice in 41 years, it’s going to take a special Saturday to keep us focused.

Luckily, we’ve got a cracker with some real tough staying contests over fences and one of the first big flat contests of 2015 coming from Lingfield.

But while there may be no fewer than nine contests to take advantage of Ladbrokes’ fantastic free bet offer, we have our sights set on three races, with a trio of top tips coming your way…

Burnt Sugar – Lingfield 14:30

Having been contesting races better than this, Richard Hannon’s colt is eye-catching back down in grade.

It looks as if 7f is his ideal distance, having failed to stay a mile at Meydan last time out and a return to this distance will suit.

He’s two from three on the all-weather, the only blot on her copybook being that defeat in the UAE.

Having finished much closer than the bare result suggests in a bunched finish in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagarde on Arc day at Longchamp, he is capable of carrying a penalty to victory under Ryan Moore.

Audacious Plan – Uttoxeter 14:40

After teaming up for the same owners to saddle Irish Cavalier to victory in the final handicap on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival, Paul Townend and Rebecca Curtis will be looking for more in Staffordshire.

The duo are operating a 36 per cent strike-rate this season, and can improve that with this consistent sort.

Scraping into the race at the bottom of the weights, the six-year-old made a likeable chase debut, albeit beaten 18l in second.

The winner that day is rated 136, while the third placed horse Ivan Boru is on 116, so while an opening handicap mark of 123 looks spot on, there could be plenty of improvement to come.

Woodford County – Uttoxeter 15:50

If you are searching for the winner of the Midlands Grand National there are three things you need to remember.

In the last decade we’ve not had a winner older than 10, despite that age group representing 31 per cent of the runners.

What’s more nine of those 10 carried 10-09 or less and then same number had won no more than once that season.

With that, we are immediately drawn to Woodford County.

Philip Hobbs charge is an out-and-out stayer and looks tailor made for this race.

He was third in the Eider at Newcastle, and seventh in the Welsh National, with his best performances coming in these extended tests.

Jockey Ciaran Gethings got a winner from him at Newbury and can double up in the big race of the day.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Ben Stones

Ladbrokes News’ equine expert, Ben likes nothing more than studying the form to pick out a winner or two for our readers. A Journalism and Media Studies graduate from the University of Winchester, Ben has previously written for a number of football and racing blogs and websites, as well as contributing to the sports pages of his home-town newspaper.