With another Cheltenham Festival written into the history books, the ITV Racing team roll on once more on Saturday afternoon to Kempton and Uttoxeter, with the Midlands Grand National standing tall as the post-Cotswolds pick-me-up offering.
ITV Racing has seven races on Saturday afternoon, four from Uttoxeter and three from Kempton Park, and our racing expert is seeking some winners on the latest terrestrial offering.
ITV Racing predictions – Kempton and Uttoxeter, Saturday March 18
Enda McElhinney has recommendations for all seven races on Saturday. You can read the analysis behind his selections below.
Odds correct at time of publishing and subject to change.
1.30 Kempton – Virgin Bet Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase (2m 2f)
Cap Du Mathan was second behind STORMIN CROSSGALES at Wincanton (1m 7½f, good) back in November as Tom George’s hurdles winner made a pleasing transition to the larger obstacles. A length-and-a-quarter was the margin at the winning post but Johnny Burke’s partner was in full control and should remain so now over this longer trip, with just a 1lb swing in favour of his old foe.
Hat-trick seeker Whistleinthedark for Laura Morgan is perhaps the one to fear most, but the assessor has taken a fair swipe at him for last month’s Wetherby score, raising him 9lb.
Selection: Stormin Crossgales @ 10/3 with Paddy Power
1.50 Uttoxeter – Your Dream Holiday With Optimum Experience Handicap Hurdle (2m 4f)
Hitching Jacking is 2-3 over hurdles and showed a good attitude at Wetherby in January so has got to be considered here for the Skelton team. But UP FOR PAROL was third at Kempton in the Lanzarote Hurdle in January and his subsequent effort under an inexperienced rider at Carlisle can be forgiven. Gavin Sheehan returns now and he has only got to give 2lb to a rival that may not be as streetwise as him just yet.
Selection: Up For Parol @ 13/2 with Paddy Power
2.05 Kempton – Virgin Bet Handicap Hurdle (2m 5f)
Last month’s Lanzarote Hurdle over course and distance proved too steep an ask for both Outlaw Peter and HARBOUR LAKE, but they should find this more manageable and are key players for Paul Nicholls and Alan King respectively.
Harbour Lake was third in the Greatwood at Cheltenham in November and ran well in fourth afterwards at Aintree upped in trip. He is taken to rebound in this, with a mention too for Dan Skelton’s Too Friendly, who ran on strongly from the rear at Ascot four weeks ago over shorter and could have a say now.
Selection: Harbour Lake @ 7/1 with Paddy Power
2.25 Uttoxeter – Perfect Payroll Provider Optimum Pay Handicap Hurdle (2m 7f)
Things did not go to plan for BALLYGRIFINCOTTAGE in a Grade 2 novice chase at Wetherby last month, but it was his jumping that let him down and reverting to hurdles should help restore some confidence. This is his first start over timber since he finished fourth in the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham in March 2022 and he is on an appealing mark, even before factoring in Fergus Gillard’s 3lb claim.
Selection: Ballygrifincottage @ 11/1 with Paddy Power
2.40 Kempton – Virgin Bet Fives Handicap Chase (2m 4½f)
It’s no real shock that Venetia Williams swerved Cheltenham this week with BRAVE SEASCA. He has flopped in three runs at the Cotswolds track but, away from there, his figures after his chasing bow in November 2021 read 1113-1. He was pulled up at Cheltenham in January but had earlier carried lots of weight in a winning seasonal debut at Aintree in December, and this track should suit him.
Selection: Brave Seasca @ 17/2 with Paddy Power
3.00 Uttoxeter – Boulton Group Midlands Grand National Handicap Chase (4m 2f)
Sam Thomas sends Iwilldoit into battle here after his win in the Classic Chase at Warwick in January. He also won the Welsh National in December 2021 on his previous start and it was admirable that he could defy a layoff like that to win on his return. He is 4-5 over fences but did struggle when faced with a trip in excess of four miles at Kelso in his only defeat. With at least 8lb to give away to the field, this is a big ask.
French Paradoxe will be a player for Olly Signy and Cheltenham Festival-winning rider Gavin Sheehan if stamina holds out but the best bet could be another former Welsh National hero in SECRET REPRIEVE for Evan Williams. He has been running well in his previous two starts, is now 2lb lower than when he won the Chepstow showpiece, and should be set for a big run in optimal conditions.
Selection: Secret Reprieve @ 10/1 with Paddy Power
3.35 Uttoxeter – Extra Furlong With Trinity Create Novices’ Handicap Chase (3m)
Things were perhaps happening a touch too fast for OUR JET at Wetherby (2m 3½f, good to soft) six weeks ago and Harry Skelton’s partner made a mistake three out when trying to gain ground on the leaders. He was held in third but the winner Gemirande did the form no harm when agonisingly foiled in the Greatwood Gold Cup at Newbury since from 6lb higher. From an unchanged mark, Our Jet should relish this extra yardage.
Selection: Our Jet @ 8/1 with Paddy Power
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