Saturday’s Horse Racing Tips: Tom Collins pinpoints four horses worthy of support
By Tom CollinsLatest Horse Racing Odds
10 November 2023
The nights are drawing in and the racing is starting and finishing earlier, so fix up and look sharp for a prompt morning kick-off on Saturday.
We have reached the proper start of the jumps season now that the Breeders’ Cup and Melbourne Cup are out of the way, and there is no better way to launch the new campaign than to head to Aintree for a spin around the National fences in the Grand Sefton Handicap Chase (2.45).
The market is led by last year’s runner-up Gesskille, who should make a bold bid in his efforts to finish one place better than 12 months ago. Still just a seven-year-old, this horse has proved pretty prolific with 13 top-two finishes from 23 starts yet he still remains largely underrated. That was proven by the initial 4/1 on offer after declarations were made.
His price has been trimmed a little since then, but I believe he still represents good value on last year’s effort in this race alone. Having been ridden patiently by Henry Brooke, Gesskille jumped fluently over the unique fences and surged late to go down by a nose to Al Dancer, a high-class novice hurdler and chaser who was revitalised by the quirky test.
The handicapper hit Gesskille with a 4lb rise as a result of his runner-up finish, but he almost justified it by filling the same berth in the Grade 3 Becher Chase on this track a month later. He proved a lot of things that day, including his ability to perform to a mark in the high 140s, his love for this venue, and stamina over longer trips.
Although he was unable to repeat the feat in the Topham in April, I didn’t think he ran all the badly back in ninth after being hampered and I’m more than happy to completely overlook a hurdling defeat and Grade 2 Auteuil thrashing that followed.
Gesskille seems to be a horse who thrives on his first two starts after relatively long layoffs and he proved that by winning a Listed event at Auteuil 53 days ago, which will have teed him up perfectly for this prize. I believe he’s well handicapped for a training partnership who are excelling with some nice horses (shoutout Iroko!) and, given his opposition looks pretty weak, I will be having a nice wager.
It’s over to Wincanton for the next two selections, both of which are trained by Paul Nicholls. Let’s start with the featured 62nd Badger Beer Handicap Chase (2.25) and the main talking point, which is Frodon’s return to action.
The fan favourite bids for back-to-back wins in this race and you would imagine that he has been fully primed to get the job done, but he’s an 11-year-old now and he has to lump a welter burden of 12st on pretty deep ground. My heart wants him to win, but my head says I have to take him on. Punting rule number one: always let your head make the final call!
The Big Breakaway was the next horse I looked at, but, in truth, I have already fallen off a cliff with this beast and his jumping inaccuracies are enough to drive you crazy. He has the talent to succeed and often goes well fresh, but there’s not enough juice in his price to justify the heart palpitations I would no doubt endure during the contest.
As a result I’m siding with the Nicholls-trained Threeunderthrufive, who gets an important jockey switch to Harry Cobden. I believe Cobden is the best in England right now and he could have an extremely positive effect on this horse, who received several sub-par rides from his previous pilot. Add that angle to the fact that he is having his first run after wind surgery and it’s hard to look elsewhere.
My confidence grew when I finally realised that he is dropping out of Graded company. He’s been mixing it at higher levels since November 2021 and is finally given a shot against largely weaker opposition. A quick check through his CV shows that he has had nine career outings in non-Graded races, which have resulted in seven victories and two runner-up finishes. That’ll do for me.
I’m hoping my second Nicholls selection takes a slight walk in the market as I don’t like recommending odds-on shots. The horse in question is Rubaud, who bids to add to his trainer’s eight victories in the Elite Hurdle (3.00 Wincanton) and seems to just have the Gary Moore-trained Hansard in his way.
These two met in the Dovecote at Kempton last season and Rubaud firmly had the upper hand. In fact, he beat Hansard by 15 lengths and won that contest pretty cosily. Two subsequent starts have resulted in two further victories, thus suggesting he is going the right way.
Not only does he have a fitness edge over his aforementioned rival after romping home at Kempton 20 days ago while Hansard has been on the sidelines for six months, but he also figures to get a pretty easy lead and therefore important positional advantage throughout the race. Hopefully he’s brewing up another ‘made all’ performance.
Finally, it’s off to Newcastle for a bet on Sound Angela in the Listed Gillies Fillies’ Stakes (1.30). Catchy name for a race, right? This filly has mixed it in this company on all five starts this season and has placed three times, but I like that connections haven’t gone to the well all that often with her and the switch to the all-weather could be the catalyst for improvement.
Sound Angela boasts a record of three wins from four starts on synthetic surfaces, which includes a beating of the now 112-rated Al Qareem at Kempton early in her career and a six-and-a-half-length romp on her sole start at this venue. She has held her form since on turf, but it could be an inspired move to revert back.
Roger Varian, who has a 25% strike-rate with runners at Newcastle, seems to have found the perfect spot and I don’t understand why she’s more than double the price of current favourite Veil Of Shadows, who has hardly wowed with her performances this term.