ITV Racing Tips: Nicholls has Grand plan to bring up ten wins in the Greatwood
We are ten sleeps away from the Cheltenham Festival and the countdown continues with a packed schedule of jumping action on ITV on Saturday.
There are nine races to watch from Newbury, Kelso and Doncaster and though Cheltenham is on the horizon, it is towards the Grand National in April that some of these participants will be looking.
Grand National entrants will be running in the Greatwood Gold Cup, Premier Chase and Grimthorpe Chase which are all part of the terrestrial TV-fest which gets under way on the main channel at 12.55.
We’ve previewed the three most significant races of the day in our ITV Racing Tips.
This race has only been run 15 times and Paul Nicholls has won nine of them, three coming in the last four editions.
Not surprisingly he has earmarked the prize again for two of his chasers, of which Grand Sancy is the ante-post favourite.
It’s an ideal opportunity for horses that are not going to Cheltenham and prefer better going – it’s good to soft at Newbury.
Grand Sancy hasn’t been seen since early November but showed he goes well fresh when winning first time out at Chepstow in October.
Capeland is Nicholls’s other runner but with a 14 runner field the stable may not get things its own way this time.
Barton Knoll has been to Newbury twice, including first time out over course and distance which he followed with a comfortable victory at Doncaster.
He has to defy a 7lb weight rise but that might not be out of the question and looks tremendous each-way value.
All eyes will be on Cloth Cap at Kelso who we have not seen since he won the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury.
In the interim he has found his way to the top of the Grand National betting without having another run – a position which solidified with the withdrawal of two-time winner Tiger Roll this week.
He is not well in at the weights in this conditions chase, but getting him race ready for Aintree will be as much Jonjo O’Neill’s goal as winning the race.
Aso, who was also taken out of the National, is best treated as he has the highest official rating and gets weight from his opponents including Two For Gold, with whom he is 9lb better off than when beaten a neck on his last start. That’s a decisive swing.
Lake View Lad, who also runs in the colours of Cloth Cap’s Grand National-fanatic owner Trevor Hemmings of Many Clouds and Ballabriggs fame, will also be getting some valuable match practice ahead of an April date.
Grand National entry Beware The Bear shoulders top weight but has slipped down to a handicap mark only 2lb above the rating he had when he won at the 2019 Cheltenham Festival.
His trainer Nicky Henderson will hope to see him run well here, after struggling at Ascot before Christmas, to put him on the right path for the National, the only big race to elude him.
The ground conditions should be much more to Beware The Bear’s liking in a race that may not take much winning with only the Alan King-trained Canelo showing any half-decent form lately.
ITV Racing Schedule, Saturday 4th March
13:15 Newbury – Veterans Handicap Chase
13:30 Kelso – Premier Novices’ Hurdle
13.50 Newbury – Greatwood Gold Cup
14:05 Kelso – Handicap Hurdle
14:20 Doncaster – Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle
14:40 Kelso – Premier Chase
14.55 Doncaster – Handicap Chase
15.15 Kelso – Morebattle Hurdle
15.30 Doncaster – Grimthorpe Handicap Chase
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.