There’s jumping action from Newbury and Kelso on Saturday afternoon in front of the ITV racing cameras, but the obvious highlight is the Dubai World Cup from Meydan, which is a thrilling renewal of the Flat showpiece. Our man Steve Chambers previews all the live terrestrial action here and picks out his best bets of the day…
Dan Skelton’s Heltenham will go in search of a third win in a row on Saturday when he looks to make the most of bottom weight in Newbury’s 14:05 contest, but this is a much tougher test than he’s faced in his last two wins, so he has to improve significantly and could be vulnerable in a cracking betting at the Berkshire venue.
One that should cruise to victory, if at his best, is Richard Hobson’s RIDERS ONTHE STORM, who showed his class at the start of the season when beating the classy Hitman in the Old Roan Chase at Aintree, but the ten-year-old has failed to fire on his last two outings. Seventh at Ascot over three miles last time out, Hobson’s raider has been handed a little drop in the weights by the handicapper and also drops back in trip here. Only 3lbs higher than his last winning mark this class act has to be the selection, and punters will hope he’s on a going day.
Arguably, the most competitive betting heat of the entire day this Grade 2 Limited Handicap Hurdle has attracted a very smart list of mares, but the one that jumps off the page is RUBY ISLAND, who is challenging for favouritism, at the time of writing, and looks to have the capabilities of landing this prize with aplomb.
A smart bumper performer, she has blossomed since switching to the hurdling sphere and notched up wins at Ayr and Wetherby on her first two starts over timber, while she just failed to land the hat-trick last time out at Ayr when second in a slowly run race. The six-year-old, who has nearly top weight here, will aim to return to winning ways today and with a solid gallop assured from the outset she can show her class and pull clear of her rivals to land this valuable prize.
Sandy Thomson’s HILL SIXTEEN may have not tasted victory since 2020, but the ten-year-old can end the long-awaited wait for a win by claiming glory in the 15:35 at Kelso, which is a fascinating renewal. He may not have got his head in front for an age, but he was second in the Becher Chase at Aintree over the Grand National fences back in 2021, while he was a decent seventh in that same race in 2022.
Not seen since then, he’s been given a wind op, which should help his chances and has been dropped 2lbs by the handicapper, so the mark of 143 looks eye-catching, if he can produce his best performance and at the odds looks the value play. The likes of Forward Plan, who is bidding for a fourth win in five outings and Half Shot are notable rivals, but Hill Sixteen could just have that bit of class needed to strike here.
Simon & Ed Crisford’s Algiers is one of the leading contenders for Dubai World Cup glory and he was simply sublime last time out when winning a Group 2 prize at the track, but this is much tougher and he could well fall to COUNTRY GRAMMER, who can hand Frankie Dettori a sparkling Dubai World Cup victory in his farewell season and the pair can retain the crown they won last year.
Bob Baffert’s American star stormed to glory in this event 12 months ago and he can emulate the mighty Thunder Snow, who won back-to-back Dubai World Cups, and the well-fancied Country Grammer warmed up for this event with a Grade 2 win at Santa Anita and the six-year-old can outclass his rivals in what should be a thrilling renewal.