It seems a bit early in the year to be heralding the claims of Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore, what with Cheltenham just around the corner, but the deadly duo can hopefully give us some profit going towards the Cotswolds.
O’Brien has his first runner at Lingfield on Saturday afternoon when Clear Skies looks to justify 11/4 favouritism in the Winter Derby (15:15).
The regally bred filly by Sea The Stars is a half-sister to Epsom Derby winner Motivator and has been positively thriving this winter on the all-weather at Dundalk.
Clear Skies has won five of her last six starts, the only blemish coming when she attempted two-miles. This trip is perfect and Moore is ideally drawn to take full advantage of her fillies’ allowance and pocket the Grade 3 contest.
Sir Michael Stoute’s Convey won the race 12 months ago and that rival ought to be amongst the chief threats again now. However, Moore’s 30 per-cent strike rate around Lingfield cannot be overstated and he may prove the difference on Clear Skies in the famous JP McManus silks.
Up at Newcastle, 5/1 chance Vinnie Lewis looks the one to side with in the Eider Handicap Chase (14:45) over a marathon four-mile trip.
Harry Whittington’s charge looks a progressive sort over fences this season and should still have more to give. He comes here having jumped his rivals ragged last time in the Sussex National at Plumpton. The ground will suit and he wasn’t showing any inclination to stop last time over 3m4f, so Vinnie Lewis looks an ideal sort to go well today.
There is a quality card on Saturday afternoon at Kempton and trainer Harry Fry will be eager to see Acting Lass maintain his winning run in the Betdaq Handicap Chase (15:35).
He has racked up an impressive three-race winning sequence so far over fences and should prove hard to stop again under the excellent Noel Fehily.
Acting Lass was arguably worth a wider winning margin last time at Ascot and, assuming this three-mile trip isn’t his undoing, he can defy a 6lb hike and oblige once more at odds of 10/3.
Jumps action in Ireland on Saturday comes from Fairyhouse where Michael Hourigan and Robbie Power can combine to land the Tommy Carberry Handicap Hurdle (14:55) with 9/2 chance Drumacoo.
He was a smart novice over timber and showed some promise after leaving Hourigan to join Ben Pauling in England. He won one of three starts over fences, but suffered some setbacks and returned to his former handler.
Drumacoo looked set to win over fences at Fairyhouse earlier this month, powering down to the final fence like the best horse, but a slow jump robbed him of his momentum and he finished second.
Back over hurdles from a 7lb lower mark, he can account for last-time-out C&D winner Out Of The Loop, who must contend with a 9lb ratings hike here.
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