The state of the ground is likely to make the difference between success and defeat for Breton Rock in the valuable listed race at 3.40 that forms the centrepiece for Leicester’s competitive seven-race card at the East Midlands course on Saturday.
Good things don’t always come in threes as any Real Madrid fan will tell you ahead of their Champions League semi-final next week, and it is the same with the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse on Monday which presents punters with perhaps the trickiest handicap puzzle of the entire jumps season.
The second and final day of Cheltenham’s two-day April meeting flies the flag for the fairer sex courtesy of three intensely competitive mares’ races and Nicky Henderson is always a man to reckon with in this sphere, and the stable’s smart mare Free Thinking can land the opener at 2.05.
There is still some life left in the jumps and Cheltenham’s traditional two-day April meeting begins on Wednesday with a hot-looking novice hurdle at 2.10 that could well go the way of Blue Heron.
The supporting card on Scottish National day holds plenty of interest and perhaps Upsilon Bleu can land the valuable two-mile listed handicap chase at 3.15 for owner Ray Green, who loves a winner at this prestigious meeting.
The lights are dimming on the jumps season but Ayr’s two-day shindig offers a chance for less exposed sorts such as Ulzana’s Raid to exploit a reasonable handicap mark in Friday’s 2.40 at the West of Scotland course.
This year’s Grand National must be one of the most open in years, and backing a select number of horses is probably the most sensible way to play a race that remains a thrilling spectacle but has become far more of a long-distance lottery with the modification of the Aintree fences.
Any backers who made a profit at Aintree on Thursday should keep their winnings in pocket today because Friday’s card looks a nightmare with the day’s feature race, the Grade 1 Melling Chase, merely a graded race in name only.
April's main action begins in the best possible way with jump racing's incomparable Grand National meeting. Three wonderful days on Merseyside gets underway on April 3, and for only the second-time ever the opening day features the Grade 1 Aintree Hurdle, a race that traditionally took place midway through the card on the Saturday of the meeting.
A double figure pot has failed to attract a double figure field for the day’s most valuable race at Carlisle on Sunday but the staying handicap chase at the South Lakeland venue features some progressive sorts including Tutchec, who is fancied to extend his good run of form.