It could certainly be said that 2015 was welcomed in by the stars of the future, with the likes of Jamie Bargary, Mikey Ennis and Sean Bowen all showing their elder weighing room colleagues how to ride big race winners on New Year’s Day.
It wasn’t just in Thursday’s highlights the youngsters were shining though, with 36% of all National Hunt races on the opening day of the year going the way of conditional jockeys.
And we are hoping that run continues with our trio of picks for Saturday’s racing, with three upcoming claimers all tipped for success.
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Here’s who we like to trouble the judge…
Having not changed this mare’s mark in five runs, the handicapper may think he has her in his grasp, but that is where the 7lbs claim of Gary Derwin comes in handy.
Harry Fry’s seven-year-old was second behind the very useful Polly Peachum on her penultimate run, and had two subsequent winners in behind.
She was fifth in a Listed handicap at Cheltenham, so down in class here could go well off an effectively 7lb lower mark.
An ability to handle plenty of give in the ground, coupled with her yards’ super form – they’re operating at a 50 per cent strike rate in the past fortnight – makes her a very tempting bet in Somerset.
This consistent sort has only been out of the first three once in seven starts since switching to Seamus Mullins in May and shone in a comfortable victory at Huntingdon four weeks ago.
A rise of 10lbs may be a tad harsh, but there could still be more to come from this improving type, and with runner-up Cloonacool winning next time out, the form looks solid.
The five-year-old was third in a strong handicap at Cheltenham under conditional Kevin Jones, so should have no problems coping with the lesser hill at Sandown, and could go well on only his third start on soft.
A fifth in the Grand Sefton Chase is steady form for Paul Nicholls’ charge, and he was only raised 1lb for that win, but has Jack Sherwood on board taking off 7lbs, so comes into this effectively racing off a mark 1lb lower than his last winning one.
The 10-year-old is yet to finish outside of the first four over 2m4f+ on soft or heavy grounds so appears to have conditions in his favour.
Throughout that sequence he has four wins and two places from eight runs going right-handed and he must be fancied to do well in a weakish race.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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