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Mark Your Card: your best bets for the weekend's racing

With Cheltenham just around the corner, Declan Smyth trawls through today’s cards in search of some final pointers. Here are his tips for today.

Image: Julien Behal/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Reproduced with permission from WhiteFlagIsRaised.com

THE GRADED RACES just keep coming at us in the run up to Cheltenham. There are five races to tease us this afternoon, none more so than the juvenile and novice hurdles.

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Let’s start at Fairyhouse where racing gets underway at 13:55 with the Winning Fair Juvenile Hurdle. All eyes will be on Minsk who has yet to appear over hurdles but comes here with a big reputation from his work on the Curragh. Installed as joint 6/1 for the Triumph Hurdle, a big run is expected.

Gigginstown run three in the race with Davy Russell picking Midnight Oil. He finished second at Naas two weeks ago, just over four lengths behind the easy winner Bat Masterson, who reopposes here today. Midnight Oil should improve, but maybe not by enough to reverse those placings.

An interesting runner is Military Bowl from the Tony Martin yard. This one was a listed winner on the flat in France but has shown nothing in two starts over hurdles. He’s definitely one to keep an eye on.

However, we’ll go with the talking horse MINSK to justify all the hype and give Dessie Hughes and owner Barry Connell something to smile about.

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The Grade 2 Bobbyjo Chase goes off at 15:30 and it is a really interesting race.

Bostons Angel tries to recover his reputation here after failing to sparkle so far this season. Magnanimity tries blinkers for the first time and it’s interesting that Davy Russell picks him from the other Gigginstown horse, Roi Du Mee.

Alfa Beat should run a big race while Prince Du Beauchene had an eye-catching run on his only start this season in the Troytown Chase back in November. Willie Mullins expects a lot more from him and this will tell us more about him.

However, I’m giving MAGNANIMITY another chance to win a nice prize for connections.

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***

The white flag will be raised at Kempton at 14:00 for the Adonis Juvenile Hurdle.

The filly Une Artiste represents the Henderson team and has won her last four starts. Dildar represents Paul Nicholls but that stable is under a cloud and we’ll watch this one with interest. Baby Mix disappointed last time out behind Grumeti, but is better than that.

Preference is for SADLER’S RISK who was an impressive winner on his hurdling debut. Once rated 100 on the flat, he might have too much class for these.

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The Grade 2 Dovecote Novice Hurdle is due off at 15:40, and there are a couple of interesting newcomers from the flat here; Terrestrial du Vent who has some good listed and a group form in France and Dodging Bullets who ran in Ireland last year. The latter, who comes from the Nicholls yard, carries a health warning.

GRUMETI, who surprisingly runs here when he had an entry in the juvenile race, might have too much speed for these. As he comes from a stable in great form, I make him the selection.

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Our final race is the 16:10 Grade 2 Pendil Chase over 2m4f. Only six go to post and Cristal Bonus is expected to go off favourite, although the health of Nicholls’ horses and the ground are definite negatives.

I’m going to oppose him with MINELLA CLASS who was travelling well when blundering and unseating his rider in a four-horse race at Newbury on 31 December. The other three horses that day were Cue Card, For Non Stop and Walkon. Add in the Henderson/Geraghty factor and that’s good enough form for me.

For regular racing updates, follow @whiteflagman on Twitter.

About the author:

Declan Smyth

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