Saturday’s Horse Racing Tips: Harriet’s Angel looks banker material in Wolverhampton finale

2 February 2024

With the Dublin Racing Festival kicking off at Leopardstown and the Scilly Isles doing the heavy lifting at Sandown, you would expect this weekend to offer up a lot of exciting punting opportunities.

However, I certainly won’t be parting with my cash any more than I would on a standard Saturday. Not only has the Scilly Isles come up weak thanks to the defection of Corbetts Cross, but the DRF is just a show of power for trainer Willie Mullins and therefore you should expect a number of short-priced favourites. Many bettors will get sucked into doing a multi-leg accumulator but that bet type is definitely not for me. 

Just three horses interest me from a wagering point of view, but hopefully we can add some winners to our tally after a very good start to 2024. Let’s start at Leopardstown and the Listed 3m½f handicap hurdle (3.00), which is undoubtedly the most competitive contest on Saturday’s card. There are plenty of places on offer here but my selection is made with ultimate glory in mind.

The horse in question is Canal End, who represents the shrewd combination of trainer Peter Fahey and owner JP McManus. This son of the brilliant Walk In The Park showed signs of promise in three maiden hurdles early last year before romping home for an easy four-and-a-quarter-length victory at Fairyhouse in April. It wasn’t the best of races on paper, but six subsequent winners have boosted the form a great deal.


Canal End was given the summer off after that and returned over an inadequate two miles at Galway in October, where he was markedly outpaced before staying on powerfully to hit the line in a never-nearer fifth. That set him up for a crack at a nice Listed prize at Navan last month, where he performed creditably behind an improving Mullins trainee and Summerville Boy, who finished second in the Grade 2 Galmoy Hurdle the other day.

With two runs under his belt and a handicap mark that has only gone up 2lb since the start of the season, Canal End looks primed to run a huge race under Mark Walsh on Saturday. There are some similarly unexposed types in opposition, but he has the most upside in my opinion.

Over to Sandown now for the 3m Masters Handicap Chase (3.45), which features a nice selection of staying chasers. Blackjack Magic is a relatively strong favourite for trainer Anthony Honeyball as he drops down from Graded company and he is definitely the horse to beat, but I’m going to look further down the market for Certainly Red, who seems fair value at around 7/1.

Lydia Richards’ veteran saves his best for Sandown (a win and a place from three starts) and Wincanton (three wins and a place from five starts), so the return to the Esher track should see him in better light than when fifth at Newbury 35 days ago. He was far from disgraced that day, but he seems to always perform better at his two favourite venues.

Certainly Red stays all day but, unlike some of his counterparts here, he wants the going description to feature the word ‘good’ rather than boggy conditions and he should get that thanks to a relatively dry week.

He’s back down to a mark of 135, which he won off at Wincanton this time last year, and has shaped nicely more than once this campaign. He is currently overpriced and should be backed accordingly.

I will be covering the latter part of the all-weather card at Wolverhampton on Sky Sports Racing, so it would be silly not to include a pick in this column. My nap of the day is Harriet’s Angel, who will run in the 0-63 7f handicap (7.00) to end the card at Dunstall Park. 

Ed Dunlop’s filly didn’t show much at the start of her three-year-old season over sprint trips, but there were signs of life when fifth at Kempton after wind surgery in September. That effort alone suggested a mark in the mid-60s was workable.

She returned to the track a month later when punted into 17/2 and never featured, but she was drawn in stall 11 of 12 at Lingfield and could never get involved after being held up early. I’m willing to excuse that effort on the basis that she had to be ridden cold on a track that didn’t suit her style.

Dunlop gave her four months off the track and she looked like a different horse on her return 10 days ago at Kempton, where she romped clear of the in-form Stella Hogan to win with consummate ease. On that evidence a subsequent 6lb rise won’t stop her and I much prefer her to the long-striding Mitigator, who doesn’t possess a push-button turn of foot like Harriet’s Angel.

Saturday’s Horse Racing Tips

Canal End (3.00 Leopardstown) @ 6/1
Certainly Red (3.45 Sandown) @ 7/1
Harriet’s Angel (7.00 Wolverhampton) @ 2/1

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