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ITV Racing Tips for April 20

Matt Brocklebank picks out the best bets on the competitive cards at Newbury and Ayr this Saturday, featuring the Coral Scottish Grand National.


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Value Bet tips: Saturday April 20

1pt win Hitching Jacking in 1.50 at 7/1 (William Hill, bet365, BetMGM)

1pt win First Street in 2.25 Ayr at 10/1 (General)

1pt win Noble Order in 3.15 Newbury at 9/1 (bet365)

1pt e.w. Inis Oirr in 3.35 Ayr at 12/1 (Coral, BetMGM, 888Sport 1/5 1,2,3,4,5,6)

Sky Bet odds | Paddy Power | Betfair Sportsbook

Stick Oirr in Saturday bets

The Willie Mullins juggernaut moves onto Ayr this weekend as the trainer bids to cement his place at the top of the British trainers’ championship standings.

Victory in the Coral Scottish Grand National will probably just about seal the deal and he runs six including lightly-raced novice Spanish Harlem, who has been popular in the market since it was confirmed Paul Townend would be riding around lunchtime on Thursday.

He can’t be recommended on stamina grounds given he’s not raced beyond two and a half miles, while antepost springer Macdermott has a lot more on his plate than when winning easily in a fairly moderate affair at Fairyhouse.

He also doesn’t get very high at his fences, paying the price with a fall at Limerick last month, and still makes plenty of jumping mistakes, which remains something of an issue for better-known stablemate Mr Incredible, for all that he was badly hampered before unseating Brian Hayes again in the Randox Grand National at Aintree.

Of course, it’s not just Mullins gunning for this valuable pot with a view to the trainers’ title as Paul Nicholls relies on top-weight Stay Away Fay, who has to bounce back from a no-show in the Brown Advisory at Cheltenham, with fellow championship chaser Dan Skelton sending out Sandown second Ballygrifincottage, who has gone back up 3lb for last month’s defeat which won’t exactly help.

The value call is to look away from that particular sideshow and focus on the form, with Git Maker and INIS OIRR very much in the shake-up for Jamie Snowden and Lucinda Russell respectively.

Git Maker bumped into the ludicrously well-handicapped Inothewayurthinkin when runner-up in the Kim Muir at Cheltenham and holds good claims here off just a 1lb higher mark, providing he’s in the same form, but preference at the prices is for Inis Oirr.

He’s gone up a full stone in the ratings since last in action but the official assessor could have put any number on his Edinburgh National victory in February, such was the ease in which he beat the Nicholls-trained Enrilo, and with that one going on to run such a solid race off just 1lb lower at Taunton last month, I’m inclined to take a positive view of the much-improved Musselburgh winner.

The fitting of a first-time visor (retained) and switch to aggressive, front-running tactics, clearly played to the seven-year-old’s strengths and I’d love to see Derek Fox (who is close to his minimum here doing 10-3) aim to repeat the dose as it can be so hard to make up ground from rear in this particular race, particularly as tired horses start making mistakes on the final circuit.

Staying out of trouble in a prominent pitch has served plenty of recent Scottish National winners well and I like the fact Inis Oirr has been kept nice and fresh after skipping a possible trip to Uttoxeter, where a tough race on the very deep ground may have left a mark on the likes of Beauport, Mr Incredible and My Silver Lining, the first three that day who all line up again on Saturday.

Inis Oirr is still inexperienced but that means he’s completely unexposed, especially at marathon trips, and his jumping has improved out of recognition since unseating on debut over fences at Kelso back in October.

Encouragingly, Russell’s previous Scottish National winner, Mighty Thunder (2021), was a novice and he also won the Edinburgh National en route to Ayr – defying a 15lb rise in the process, having finished second in the Midlands National in between.

Quality Street to strike for Henderson

Mullins having three also helps make the market if you’re looking to back anything else in the Coral Scottish Champion Hurdle too and I’m not going to desert FIRST STREET, who looked to have been lined up quite nicely for the Coral Cup at Cheltenham.

Unfortunately, things obviously went pear-shaped for Nicky Henderson at the Festival but there were clear signs at Aintree that a lot of the Seven Barrows horses are back firing again, and I can’t let stable form put me off this one.

He was well beaten in the same race 12 months ago but that was his fourth outing of the calendar year, a run of starts that included a mid-pack finish in the County Hurdle, and he’s much fresher heading into this spring having run just the once since Boxing Day, when third to Constitution Hill in the Grade 1 Christmas Hurdle.

He’s not up to that level and was brushed aside by Lossiemouth in the Unibet Hurdle at Cheltenham on Trials Day too but his mark had come right down from 152 to 141 prior to that, and I reckon he can cope with the subsequent 2lb rise given the winner went on to follow up so well in the Mares’ Hurdle last month.

Rubaud – last year’s winner of this race – finished a place behind First Street in the Unibet Hurdle and is now 3lb worse off with the Henderson horse, who has also undergone another breathing operation since the last outing.

He’s normally pretty sharp when fresh and has won first time back after a wind op in the past too so there’s loads to like, not least the price.

Hitching an exciting ride for Skelton

Henderson could win the first too courtesy of Persian Time but the other horse I’m backing north of the border is the Skelton-trained HITCHING JACKING in the CPMS Novices’ Champion Handicap Chase.

Skelton won this with Sail Away last year and Molly The Dolly in 2019 so seems to make a point of targeting the race and this year’s runner had the perfect sighter when finishing third off 1lb higher at Kempton a month ago.

That was his first start since January, having missed a couple of possible engagements due to heavy going, and it appeared to be needed, the seven-year-old running out of gas two out before staying on again when it looked like he was going to be swallowed up by the closers.

Hitching Jacking was a fair novice hurdler (rated in the low 130s last season) and is clearly considered a decent chase prospect as he’s only been given one go in novice company, the last two outings coming against more established rivals with loads of fencing experience.

That should stand him in very good stead for this and I’m more than happy to chance him on the ground despite connections probably wishing for genuine spring conditions at this meeting, in an ideal world.

Noble mission to be accomplished

Down at Newbury, it should pay to take a cautious approach with the Classic trials and I’ll aim to watch and learn in the Fred Darling and the Greenham, but the OLBG Spring Cup Handicap is a good betting heat.

It’s been a decent one for market leaders in recent years, with just one of the past 10 winners returning an SP bigger than 10/1, but that doesn’t mean a lot as far as this year’s edition and I’ll chance NOBLE ORDER, who I’m hoping will stand up to the rigours of racing a little better now than he did for Charlie Appleby.

Picked up cheaply (16,000 guineas) from Godolphin at the Tattersalls horses-in-training sale in October, the well-bred son of Dubawi made the perfect start for Archie Watson and Hambleton Racing when winning in good style at Newcastle in February.

Despite getting a bit hot beforehand, Noble Order travelled really powerfully just off the pace before picking up the running between rivals with around two furlongs to go. He had it settled in a matter of strides and I don’t think he was doing a great deal for Hollie Doyle when out on his own and in no real danger of being caught.

With that in mind, I reckon a subsequent 6lb rise looks on the lenient side, especially with runner-up Dingle running two solid races in better-quality handicaps at Lingfield since, and Watson looks to have made the right call in throwing this horse into a valuable turf handicap while he can make the cut at the lower end of the ratings.

Stall 11 in the middle should give Doyle all the options in the world but it can’t be a bad thing that the key pace horse, Hieronymus, is drawn next door in 10 as he can hopefully give the selection a handy tow into the race.

If Noble Order were still trained by Appleby I suspect he’d be half the price in this and I’m just praying he doesn’t bounce as the comeback success did come after well over a year off the track. He’ll love the ground, being a Dubawi.

Published at 1600 BST on 19/04/24

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