Frankie set to shine on Al Thakhira at Wolverhampton

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Don’t let anyone fool you that there isn’t any excellent competitive racing between now and Cheltenham as they would be lying to you.

Sure, we can’t wait for the Prestbury Park extravaganza, but there are more pressing matters this weekend.

Sandown’s Imperial Cup meeting is the feature in a busy Saturday, and it is the main event itself that produces our very first Sixty Second Selection…

But elsewhere, there is some decent action on Wolverhampton’s tapeta as the Lincoln draws ever nearer.

Wherever you bet remember that if you back a winner at 4/1 or bigger on any Channel 4 race, we will give you a free bet of up to £25!*

Here’s a trio of equine athletes that could boost the Festival kitty…

Hello George – Sandown 14:00

Philip Hobbs’ charge bumped into a couple of smart animals before Christmas, being far from disgraced when 5l behind 7/1 Supreme Novices’ chance Jollyallan, as well as the progressive Robinsfirth.

He’s since gone on to run well when a close sixth in the Ladbroke at Ascot, and came home fourth in the Lanzarote Hurdle last time out.

He has been dropped 1lb by the handicapper, and in truth, this contest looks weaker than the aforementioned pair.

It wouldn’t be a shock to see him go well at a very nice price.

Al Thakhira – Wolverhampton 14:15

Frankie Dettori makes a trip to Wolverhampton for only his third ride in Britain this year, and Al Thakira can mark that with a second win in 2015.

Already a Listed winner, the absence of 141 days shouldn’t be a concern as the filly was only beaten a head first time out in the Group 3 Fred Darling last season.

The Qatar-owned four-year-old has never run on the all-weather in the past but does have form on soft ground, and with her sire Dubawi producing a higher percentage of winners on synthetics than on turf, a chance can be taken.

She looks the potential class angle if handling this new test.

Solar Deity – Wolverhampton 14:50

Cometh the hour, cometh the man (and horse).

With Ryan Moore – a jockey with a 43 per cent strike-rate in all-weather handicaps this season – on board Marco Botti’s all-weather specialist has a fantastic chance to land this trial for the Lincoln.

The six-year-old is interesting as the only runner without an entry to the big race, so there will be no protecting of handicap marks for our selection.

He may be winless since November 2013, but he has still been putting in some good performances, finishing in the first three in four of his last five starts.

A drop back down to his last winning distance could be the spark for the horse who seems to enjoy his outings in the West Midlands.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Ben Stones

Ladbrokes News’ equine expert, Ben likes nothing more than studying the form to pick out a winner or two for our readers. A Journalism and Media Studies graduate from the University of Winchester, Ben has previously written for a number of football and racing blogs and websites, as well as contributing to the sports pages of his home-town newspaper.