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ITV 7 horse racing tips and previews: Saturday's best best from the televised races at Ayr and Newbury


On another bumper Saturday of racing action, Tipstrr racing pundit Jake Russell has shared his best bets from the Ayr and Newbury races that make up the ITV 7

By @ Jake Russell

1.50pm Ayr - CPMS Novices Champion Handicap Chase 

A pretty tricky contest to kick start the ITV7 this Saturday, I have landed on Deeper Blue for a very much in-form Harry Fry yard, who currently operate with a 40% win strike rate for the last 14 days (four winners in just 10 runners). 

At first glance there might be a little risk attached to backing Harry's runner here, as he has already had five runs over fences, not winning any of them, although he has placed second on three different occasions, including in the last two of his runs. 

A two-time winning hurdler in just six runs, connections wasted no time in getting their horse over fences, so it is clear to see they have always thought a chasing career was tailor-made for him. He ran very well at Newbury last time when just going down by a length and a quarter to Neon Moon who seemingly bounced very much back to form. 

Deeper Blue has been put up 3lbs for that last effort, and although he is yet to win over fences, the first time cheekpieces on Saturday could easily bring something out of him, and may help him concentrate better throughout the race. 

Harry Fry has only ever sent four runners up to Ayr, and although none of his horses won or placed, he wouldn't take any horses all the way up there for nothing, especially given how well the yard is going at the moment. 

Another thing to note is this is Harry's only runner heading up to Ayr, and Jonathan Burke only has two rides ( Deeper Blue, and Autonomous Cloud in the Scottish Grand National). 

2.05pm Newbury - Group 3 Dubai Duty Free Stakes (Fred Darling Stakes) 

This is actually a really good race, one I am very much looking forward to watching unfold on Saturday. The Guineas trials haven't exactly sprung up any real contenders during this week (Nell Gwyn & Craven was on this week), but let's hopefully see a classic contender in this contest at Newbury on the weekend. 

With that being said, I think the winner of this race could be a horse who doesn't actually have any entries into the mile classics later on in the season, and that is William Haggas' Relief Rally. As mentioned she has no Guineas entries as yet, but maybe if she were to win this contest on Saturday and look like she can stay further, then she could be supplemented. 

She started off her 2yo season running over five furlongs, where she won on debut, then a conditions race at Salisbury, then came a very gallant runner-up in the Queen Mary at the Royal meeting, before going on to win the Super Sprint at Newbury and then the Group 2 Lowther Stakes at York over six furlongs, her first attempt at the slightly longer distance. 

Now the obvious concern is the 240-day break, as well as the step up to seven furlongs for the very first time, and being out of Kodiac she isn't exactly bred to stay further than six, although Kodiac did win over this trip when he was racing. 

She shouldn’t have any issues handling it, as when watching back her Lowther Stakes win she was always keeping on very nicely heading to the line (albeit she got the rail). The manner in which she races would suggest the trip should be no issue, as she looks to have some real afterburners in the closing stages. 

She won on soft going at Windsor on her debut, so the expected good-to-soft ground at Newbury on Saturday should pose no threat, and providing she is fit and ready to go, I fully expect her to handle the 7f trip. Let's just hope she has trained on nicely from a 2yo to a 3yo, as there could be an exciting season ahead for her. 

2.25pm Ayr - Grade 2 Coral Scottish Champion Hurdle    

A competitive field of 15 head to post for the Grade 2 Scottish Champion Hurdle on Saturday, with some very nice prize money on offer. Although most of these at the top end of the market arrive here off the back of some decent runs in better contests last time out, I am siding with a young and very much improving horse in the shape of the Ewan Williams-trained Cracking Rhapsody, who has only had five runs over hurdles so far, but has won on three separate occasions and raised from a rating of 115 all the way up to 129 here. 

He won his first contest by a neck at Hexham back in November last year, before going on to come second in a decent Carlisle novice hurdle, and then winning a Class 3 handicap hurdle at Kelso, which was the perfect stepping stone to then go on and land the Morebattle Hurdle at the same venue by a little under five lengths in the end. 

That was obviously a career best last time out, and an excellent piece of training from Ewan who has really got this horse to improve nicely with each passing run. Now the obvious concern is the step up in class to Graded company for the first time, as well as an 8lb rise in the weights for his Morebattle victory, but the manner of that performance does suggest that there is plenty more to come from this horse the more he keeps on running. 

I think his price is a little bit of an insult given he arrives into this race in cracking form, and although a massive career best is needed to win this here, I could easily see him taking another step forward from last time and running well, in a very competitive contest indeed. 

2.40pm Newbury - Group 3 Watership Down Stud Too Darn Hot Greenham Stakes

This is a really interesting contest for the 3yo colts, and although Zoum Zoum doesn't hold any Guineas entries (that might be down to the fact he was gelded before his first ever run, no geldings can run in the 2000 Guineas), but he still could quite easily land this and make it four wins in four career runs.


He kickstarted his career with a 1¼-length win on debut at Kempton when keeping on very well heading to the line, before going on to comfortably beat Kikkuli in a novice contest - that horse has since franked the form and won so that could ultimately end up being a very nice piece of form as that looked a pretty decent contest. 

He was then stepped up in class when landing the odds in a Listed contest over at Saint-Cloud in France, landing the contest very comfortably indeed and looked a real Group performer in the making. 

Both of his turf wins were on heavy going, so it remains to be seen if he can act on the faster going, but given the fact he is expected to run at Newbury on Saturday, that should pose no issues for the son of Zoustar. 

All of his runs have come over 7 furlongs, so there should be no issues for the Ralph Beckett runner on Saturday, and I am quite excited to see how he gets on stepping up in class for his 3yo seasonal debut. This is a pretty good contest on paper, so hopefully that proves to be correct as the season progresses.

3.00pm Ayr - Mares Handicap Hurdle          

It has been well documented that Willie Mullins is sending a platoon of runners over to Ayr on Saturday, as he looks to seal the UK Jumps Trainers’ Championship, and pinch it from Dan Skelton (who is currently 2nd) and Paul Nicholls (who is currently 3rd), so we will fully expect him to send some good runners over this weekend. 

And speaking of the devil, I am siding with one of his runners here, which is the mount of recent Grand National winning jockey Paul Townend, who comes over to Ayr for seven very good rides for Mullins. Willie has not had many runners at Ayr previously, but the fact he is sending plenty of runners over there is great for the Scottish course, as he is set to do battle with Dan and Paul for the Trainers championship. 

A Penny A Hundred is his horse that I shall be siding with, and although she does have to lump a fair bit of weight around Ayr on Saturday, she is dropping back down in class from Grade 1 company, in which she came fourth in last time, which was the Grade 1 Honeysuckle Mares Hurdle. 

She is clearly not a Graded animal as yet, but did win a Limerick maiden hurdle in nice style back in October of last year, before getting pitched into some good races there onwards, which she found a little too tricky at the time. 

Now into handicap company for the very first time, the rating of 133 does seem a shade high, but I feel she very much is the class angle heading into this contest. Paul Townend is riding on a crest of a wave at the moment, and I fully expect to see him and Willie Mullins in the winners’ enclosure this weekend with a fair few winners to boot. 

3.15pm Newbury - OLBG Spring Cup Handicap

A 21-runner field for the sixth race on the ITV 7 this Saturday, the current market leader is 10/1, so that just sums up how very competitive this contest really is, right before another competitive contest in the Scottish Grand National which is next. 

I am absolutely convinced that Paul and Oliver Coles’ Thunder Ball will land a decent handicap contest of this nature at some stage in his career, and given he has had the run this season in the Lincoln last time, this could be his day. 

He ran in some very good contests last season, coming fourth in the Britannia only beaten by three lengths, he then went to Newmarket and came sixth, only beaten by a little under four lengths in the end, before going on to then "win" at Goodwood, but the placings were reversed and he was placed second in the end, with The Gatekeeper getting awarded the race in the end. 

Thunder Ball then ran a very creditable seventh in the Cambridgeshire at Newmarket, only beaten by 2 and three quarter lengths, before ending the season with a tidy three-length win in a class 2 contest at Goodwood. 

Alec Voikhansky takes a very valuable 5lb off him here again on Saturday, and Alec is a young jockey to very much keep an eye on for the turf season ahead. I think that run in the Lincoln last time was a very pleasing effort, and although he could only manage seventh place in the end, he wasn't beaten all that far, with the total margin from the winner to him being around 8 1⁄4 lengths. He was ridden prominently throughout the race, which probably wasn't the best thing to do given most of the winners that day came from off the pace, but he held his own and finished best of the prominent runners in the end. 

Ultimately he did weaken in the closing stages so probably needed the run, and like last year after his seasonal debut run, I can firmly see him progressing into a nice type as the season goes on, and I really do think he could be a better horse than his current 101 rating suggests. 

As I stated previously, I am very much convinced there is a decent pot in this horse, and given everything from the ground to the draw (Thunder Ball is drawn 8, lower numbers have done the best in recent years) there are no real excuses this time around.

3.35pm Ayr - Coral Scottish Grand National Handicap Chase   

I actually really do like this race, and although I rarely find the winner of it, I do enjoy watching the race unfold and the stories it has brought out over the years, none more so than Kitty's Light last season. 

With that being said, it doesn't make it any easier to pick the winner, especially given there are 26 runners heading to post this season as they battle it out for the £113,000 winning pot over 4 miles with 27 fences to jump. You could argue that any of these could land this contest on Saturday, like most National races, however I have a little firm favourite of mine who runs in this, who is definitely progressing along nicely in these testing races and has done so well in these big staying Handicaps this season. 

Emma Lavelle knows what it takes to win a staying handicap chase of this nature, and her My Silver Lining really does look tailor-made for a race of this nature. A very progressive mare who was rated just 113 at the start of the season, she has since won two races, and placed in another four, meaning she has not been out of the top three in all of her six runs this season so far, going from a rating of 113 all the way up to 133, which is her rating now. 

Obviously she is in fine fettle at the moment and running so very well, and although she has a 2lb raise in the weights from her 3rd placed effort in the Midlands Grand National last time, I think there could be a little more to come from this tough and hardy grey. She did weaken in the closing stages during the Midlands National, but it was reported she lost her left front shoe, which could contribute towards the weaker finish. 

Her best career performance to date was when she landed the Grade 3 Classic Chase at Warwick, and ever since that day I have been taken by how tough she is and how much she has improved this season with each passing run now upped in trip. 

The furthest she has been beaten this season is just four lengths, which was at Sandown over three miles in December, so the trip might have even been a little on the sharper side for her then. Her last two runs have been very good, and she has only been beaten by a combined five lengths in both the Grand National trial at Haydock and the Midlands National at Uttoxeter last time. 

As mentioned she is as tough as they come, and will definitely be in the mix at the finish, given she gets around all ok. She is versatile when it comes to ground conditions (has won on soft and good) so should there be any or no rain come before Saturday, that will be no issue for her. 

What a story it would be for jockey James Best who rides this horse, as his mother-in-law owns the horse.  

  • Selection - My Silver Lining (16/1) 

 All prices are from Planet Sport Bet and are subject to change

 All previews and tips provided by @ Jake Russell

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