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ITV Racing Tips: Drying weather to help Hewick in Midlands Grand National

| 16.03.2022

Cheltenham is behind us for another year and the countdown to the 2023 Festival has begun.

While the meeting remains a four-day fixture, another tradition survives in the form of the Midlands Grand National at Uttoxeter.

One race the Festival doesn’t have is a four mile plus Handicap Chase and, unless or until it does, Uttoxeter’s biggest meeting of the year can operate as the main event.

The track anchors the television coverage, which is shared with racing from Kempton, which hosts a card for horses who were unable to get into the Cheltenham features.

There will be eight races on the schedule, four from Uttoxeter and four from Kempton. Coverage begins on ITV from 13:10 and we have previewed the three most significant races of the day in our ITV Racing Tips.

14:25 Trinity Create Novices’ Handicap Chase

Venetia Williams capped a memorable season with a terrific Cheltenham and she can be among the winners again here. She combines with Lucy Turner, who also opened her Festival account with Fuji Flight, now bidding for a hat-trick after successes at Hereford and Newbury.

Turner takes the ride no doubt to mitigate Fuji Flight’s subsequent rise in the handicap with her 7lb allowance. She is good enough to make it count.

15:00 Optimum Pay Handicap Hurdle

There was no success for Bryony Frost at Cheltenham this year, but she will be hoping to be back among the winners at Uttoxeter where she guided Red Risk to a comfortable victory last month.

He went up 11lb for that success, gained in less company, but that was only Red Risk’s second start over hurdles for Paul Nicholls, having been campaigned as a chaser since his move to Britain. He may just have more to offer over hurdles than he showed over fences and can defy the rise.

15:35 Boulton Group Midlands Grand National

The last two winners of this marathon, Time To Get Up and Truckers Lodge, are back for another crack at this prize.

While Truckers Lodge still looks high in the handicap despite not having won a race since his win, Time To Get Up is only 4lb higher and looks to have been laid out for this by Jonjo O’Neill, but there has never been a two-time winner of the race.

It’s not brought much joy for the Irish either with no win since 2006 but Hewick could end that wait. He enjoyed a productive summer, rounding off with a comfortable win in the Durham National at Sedgefield.

He hasn’t run since the October contest with all his form on good or yielding ground. Trainer Shark Hanlon will be counting on conditions drying out for Hewick and based on the weather forecast, he may well get them.

ITV Racing Schedule, Saturday 19th March

13:30 Kempton – 3m Handicap Chase

13:50 Uttoxeter – 3m Handicap Hurdle

14:05 Kempton – 2m Novices’ Handicap Chase

14:25 Uttoxeter – 3m Novices’ Handicap Chase

14:40 Kempton – 2m5f Handicap Hurdle

15:00 Uttoxeter – 2m4f Handicap Hurdle

15:15 Kempton – 2m4f Handicap Chase

15:35 Uttoxeter – Midlands Grand National

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

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Author

Jonathan Lees