The streak of high quality race meetings is set to continue this weekend, with seven exciting events taking place across the length and breadth of the country. These include three flat race meetings and four that will take place over the hurdles.
We’ll preview some of the best action below, looking at where you should consider watching horse racing this weekend….
Sandown, Saturday, 2nd February
Saturday is Contender’s Day at the iconic Sandown Park, and this stellar event (which often provides a few crucial Cheltenham Festival pointers) features a thrilling seven-race card.
This will include three Class 1 races over the hurdles, with the Grade 1 888Sport Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase undoubtedly the pick of the bunch.
A total of 11 runners will compete here, with a winner’s cheque of £31,322 available to the successful runner and rider.
The early odds have yet to be released here, but we like the look of La Bague Au Roi as a potential front-runner. This eight-year old horse, who has been superbly trained by Warren Greatrex, will certainly enter the race in exceptional form having won her last three steeplechase outings.
This included an outstanding win at Kempton on Boxing Day last-time out, and it’s also interesting to note that La Bague Au Roi enjoyed a similar four race winning run over the hurdles towards the end of 2017.
Kim Bailey’s precocious Vinndication will also have a say here, however, with this six-year old horse having won all six of his races since his debut in November 2017.
Only two of these (Ascot and Carlisle) have been steeplechase outings, with three hurdles victories and a flat race win completing his record. This means that he may prove to be a little green here, particularly in such good and exalted company.
Elsewhere, the nine-year old horse Ok Corral will also start as one of the favourites, definitely offering value as an each-way bet.
He has also won his last two steeplechase outings at Plumpton and Warwick respectively, meaning that he’ll arrive at Sandown with some genuine momentum behind him.
Leopardstown, Saturday, 2nd February
Saturday will also see Leopardstown host the Dublin Racing Festival, which features seven jump races and four that are classed as Grade 1 events.
The clear standout here is the Class 1, BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle, which will feature six select runners and a prize fund well in excess of £160,000. The winner alone will wake away with a £98,875 cheque, while the race itself takes place over two challenging miles.
We like the look of Apple’s Jade here, with this seven-year old mare having won her last three hurdle outings towards the end of 2018.
Trained by Gordon Elliott, she’ll certainly arrive in outstanding form, while the last of her three consecutive wins arrived at Leopardstown in a talented field of seven.
Mrs. J Harrington’s Supasundae will also fancy his chances of challenging here, not least because he has performed consistently well since the beginning of 2017. In fact, this nine-year old horse has placed in the top three in each of his last 10 hurdle outings, with this run including six second-place finishes.
However, Supasundae has only won three race during this impressive run, meaning that he may offer the best value as a solid each way bet.
Musselburgh, Sunday, 3rd February
While Sunday is an altogether quieter affair, there are still a couple of excellent meetings taking place at Musselburgh and Southwell.
We’ve directed our attention to Musselburgh, however, which will host seven high quality hurdle races during the afternoon.
The pick of these is the Class 1, Bet365 Scottish Triumph Hurdle Trial Juvenile Hurdle, which will feature 14 talented runners and a winner’s cheque of £14,238.
One of the early favourites here is the four-year old gelding Hannon, who’s trained by John C. McConnell and has performed well in his two outings to date.
He placed second on his debut at Down Royal, for example, while he also earned his maiden win over the hurdles at Musselburgh on New Year’s Day. This was an impressive win too, and one that was delivered in a competitive field of seven runners.
Elsewhere, Donald McCain Jnr’s Liva is also expected to provide stern competition for the win. This four-year horse is relatively experienced, and while much of this has been earned during flat races he also competed in three hurdle outings to date.
In fact, his last three outings took place over the hurdles, including two second places finishes at Catterick and Musselburgh respectively.
These races sandwiched an impressive win at Musselburgh, so he has a fondness for the track and has performed consistently well since November last year.