In the big races on the card, I think Native River is a certainty myself, and in the two-miler I would side with Fox Norton. He may have been off the track for a while with a leg injury and be giving weight away all round here, but I was very impressed with him at Cheltenham in November and I think he could have too much for Altior in this ground.
As for the Betfair Hurdle, Ballyandy is my confident pick. He is handicapped to win on the bridle if you ask me.
He is clearly up against it in this company and ran poorly at Southwell on the Flat over the Christmas period, but he isn’t without ability. He is a 70-rated winning stayer on the Flat and he did shape quite promisingly, though beaten a long way, on his hurdling debut at Kempton a couple of seasons ago. But this is a very stiff ask.
This will be the first time I have sat on him and he comes here on the back of a career-best when winning on his chasing debut at Market Rasen on Boxing Day, his second start for Fergal after a good reappearance effort in a 2m handicap hurdle at Huntingdon. The step up to 2m5f and the fences seemed to really suit him there, so you have to be confident about another good showing, even if he has another 2f to travel here. He has gone up 7lb too, but he won by 11 lengths and the runner-up ran well in defeat next time, so hopefully he is still on a fair mark. I think he will go well.
This is traditionally one of the hottest bumpers of the season – Ballyandy, Barters Hill and Al Ferof are some of the recent winners – so it will take a lot of winning. But Infinite Sun is probably one of our better bumper horses, if not the best, on form and his short-head defeat of today’s favourite Western Ryder at Market Rasen in November has clearly been franked since. The third came out and beat Bags Groove at Newbury, too. Obviously Western Ryder has progressed in the meantime and we were getting 7lb from him at Market Rasen, but it was clearly a smart performance and one that surprised us a bit to be honest. He hasn’t been seen since November, but I don’t think there have been any serious issues with him and this well tell us a lot more about where we go with him next.
Find 32Red’s latest racing odds here – we offer price boosts on every UK and Irish racing event, as well as enhanced multiples and jockey specials. If you’re still up for a flutter, be sure to check out our award-winning casino too!