CHELTENHAM is all consuming at this time of year, so it’s actually quite nice to have weekend meetings where Prestbury Park isn’t the main focus.
In fact up at Doncaster, attention turns to the Grand National as some decent chasers line-up in the BetBright Grimthorpe Handicap Chase (3.35pm).
The Last Samuri bolted up by 10 lengths in this race 12 months ago before finishing second to Rule The World at Aintree.
He’s now 12lbs higher than a year ago, but he showed when beaten just a length by Vieux Lion Rouge in the Becher Chase that he is still to be feared from his mark.
I expect him to go close, although conceding 12lbs to DEFINITLY RED might just be too tall an order.
Brian Ellison’s eight-year-old has won two of his four starts this season and was a very impressive winner of the Rowland Meyrick at Wetherby on Boxing Day.
He wouldn’t have beaten Bristol De Mai when unseating Henry Brooke three out in the Peter Marsh in January, although he may well have finished second.
I have no doubts that he is still ahead of his mark and I expect him to take plenty of beating in this, even though 3/1 with 188BET admittedly isn’t a huge price.
My other fancy at Doncaster is in the preceding BetBright Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (3.00pm).
Kerry Lee’s Happy Diva is certain to be in warm order if taking her chance after chasing home the impressive Colin’s Sister at Sandown last time.
However, she’s now had six starts this season and I just worry her busy schedule may start taking its toll.
Donald McCain’s string are in fine fettle and his LASTBUTNOTLEAST looks like a highly promising mare.
She has won three of her four starts for the Cheshire-based trainer, the last two victories coming by a combined 19 lengths.
The step up in trip is sure to suit and I can see her upsetting the favourite.
It’s Greatwood day at Newbury tomorrow where the big race is the William Hill Greatwood Gold Cup (3.15pm).
Paul Nicholls has won this event seven times in the past decade, but I’m going to take his trio on with Venetia Williams’ VIC DE TOUZAINE at 13/2 with 188BET.
There is plenty of rain forecast in Berkshire and this eight-year-old is proven on both the ground and at the distance.
He ran really well on his reappearance at Wincanton last month where he finished well clear of BetBright Chase winner Pilgrims Bay.
My final selection is CHESTERFIELD in the William Hill Greatwood Handicap Hurdle (2.40pm).
Regular readers will remember that I tipped him in the Lanzarote at Kempton in January, but he was too keen that day and is worth another chance back down in trip.
We are now just over a week away from the Cheltenham Festival and the place to be next Friday is Smith & Wollensky for the City AM Cheltenham Festival Preview lunch, sponsored by Star Sports.
I’m really looking forward to it and will be joined by ITV’s Mick Fitzgerald and Gina Harding from AtTheRaces.
We’ll be trying to find you loads of winners during your three-course lunch, and also raise some money for Maggie’s Cancer Centre.
Tables of 10 are available for £1,490 and can be booked by calling Lilian Fantinatti on 020 7024 9703 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chesterfield e/w 2.40pm Newbury
Lastbutnotleast 3.00pm Doncaster
Vic De Touzaine e/w 3.15pm Newbury
Definitly Red 3.35pm Doncaster