THE weather is threatening to cause problems with racing over the Easter period with this afternoon’s Wincanton card an early waterlogged casualty. However, Kempton Park stages the Listed Snowdrop Fillies Stakes on Saturday in which the Richard Hannon trained SHAMWARI LODGE looks the one to be on.

Our selection rounded of last season with a decent run in a French Group 2 on Arc weekend when only beaten three lengths. Before that, she chased home Fantasia in a Doncaster Listed contest and was arguably one of the unluckiest losers of the season when beaten at Glorious Goodwood.

She faces serious opposition from the likes of the in-form Island Sunset and Mosqueras Romance, while John Gosden has his string in such good order that Chantilly Tiffany would have to be respected if lining up. However, Shamwari Lodge has apparently been working well on this surface at home and connections took her for a workout at Kempton yesterday morning.

The same stable also sends a couple of runners to rain-soaked Folkestone this afternoon where the ground is already described as ‘heavy’. The pick of the pair looks to be RIO MIST in the maiden at 3.10pm. She may not be a world beater, but it looks a terrible race and as she should handle the ground, she looks a decent betting proposition.

It’s the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse on Monday and Tony Martin’s Saddlers Storm will take some pegging back off his flyweight. He looks the ideal type for a race of this nature and could start very short if the money comes for him. However, he is plenty short enough for a slog like this and the Willie Mullins trained BALLYTRIM makes far more appeal at around the 12/1 mark.

The nine-year-old won a decent race at Punchestown at the back end of last campaign and looked in really good heart when winning over an inadequate three miles last time. Mullins has his team in really good form and he should go close at a decent price.

I’ll also be having a small saver each-way on Cheltenham Festival Cross-Country Chase winner A NEW STORY at around 16/1. He has run in the last four renewals of this race and finished placed on three occasions. Heavy ground holds no fears and he is another that shouldn’t be too far away.

Finally, we are just over a week away from the John Smith’s Grand National and the time is right to have a couple of ante-post bets. Firstly, the Dessie Hughes’ trained BLACK APALACHI has to be backed at 14/1 each-way (five places) with bet365.com (who will also give you your money back if he doesn’t run). He fell at Becher’s second time round last year when looking in complete command. Previously, he won the Becher Chase over these fences back in 2008 so should now know his way around. He has had the perfect prep race and if the rain continues to fall, expect his price to shorten.

The other one I’m going to back at this stage is the Willie Mullins’ trained SNOWY MORNING each-way with Paddy Power at 20/1 (also five places). Willie Mullins’ Irish raider will be having his third trip to Aintree and has completed on both previous visits. He finished a gallant third in 2008 and tired on the run-in last year to finish ninth having made a terrible mistake at the second last. He carried a staggering 11stone 8lbs that day and is lumbered with just 10stone 13lbs this time around. This has blatantly been his target all season and he will start a lot shorter on the day.


RIO MIST 3.10pm Folkestone (Today)
SHAMWARI LODGE 3.15pm Kempton (Saturday)
BALLYTRIM e/w 3.45pm Fairyhouse (Monday)
A NEW STORYe/w 3.45pm Fairyhouse (Monday)
BLACK APALACHI 14/1 e/w Grand National
SNOWY MORNING 20/1 e/w Grand National