Wetherby and Musselburgh have both failed to survive the winter weather, so it’s down to Sandown, Leopardstown and Lingfield to save the day.
There’s plenty to look forward to across all three tracks, including Min in the Ladbrokes Dublin Chase, Le Richebourg in the Irish Arkle and Buveur D’Air in the Contenders Hurdle.
And that’s without the three-way battle between Vinndication, Lostintranslation and Defi Du Seuil in the Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase. We’ve got selections for them all in our ITV Racing Tips.
There aren’t many better two-milers about than Min.
Willie Mullins’ raider is a tried and tested Grade 1 winner and would probably have more 1s to his name were it not for the trio of Altior, Douvan and Un De Sceaux.
The good news is that none of those three reoppose here. The even better news is that Min shaped well on reappearance to win the John Durkan Chase from a high-class performer in Shattered Love.
Simply Ned is his main foe this time. And after beating the veteran by 12l in this contest a year ago, it’s difficult to see Nicky Richards’ raider – or Saint Calvados – coming out on top.
Magnificent Min is the one to beat.
Looking for Cheltenham pointers? Then the Scilly Isles Chase is for you. Top novices Lostintranslation, Defi Du Seuil and Vinndication all have claims in this 2m 4f renewal.
However, it’s difficult to look past the latter of the trio, who remains unbeaten over obstacles for Kim Bailey. The six-year-old has a habit of doing just enough to squeak over the line.
He showed that to full effect last time when justifying odds of 8/13 over Christmas to take the Grade 2 Noel Novices’ Chase in just his second start over fences.
This is another step up for the raider, but with Sandown the aim for some time and the ground showing some tread, we think he can keep the run going against a pair of inconsistent rivals.
They say the old ones are the best. So it’s the 12-year-old Houblon Des Obeaux who gets the nod for Venetia Williams in another big handicap.
The two-time Grade 2 winner ended a 13 month dry spell to return to the winner’s enclosure with a dominant 15l win over course and distance at the start of last month.
He’s taken to do it again here with the aid of 7lb claimer Hugh Nugent to help offset the charge’s 9lb rise in the weights. Even if victory is beyond him, he should have what it takes to hit the frame.
ITV Racing tips:
1:45 Lingfield – Cenotaph
1:50 Sandown – Roksana (each-way)
2:00 Leopardstown – Eclair De Beaufeu
2:25 Sandown – Vinndication (NB)
2:55 Lingfield – Wissahickon
3:00 Sandown – Ballymoy
3:10 Leopardstown – Min (NAP)
3:35 Sandown – Houblon Des Obeaux (each-way, Lively Longshot)
3:45 Leopardstown – Le Richebourg
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All Odds and Markets correct as of date of publication