Horse racing tips: Johnny Ward’s best bets for Saturday race card


or racing fans, today’s offering coming up to the Cheltenham Festival feels akin to the night before a wedding, with Sandown and Wolverhampton featured on ITV4 this afternoon.

Paddy Power will once again be offering a bonus for any horse who wins the Grade 3 Paddy Power Imperial Cup (2.25) at Sandown and goes on to land any race at the Cheltenham Festival. Three horses have won the bonus: Olympian (1993 Coral Cup), Blowing Wind (1998 County Handicap Hurdle) and Gaspara (2007 Fred Winter). All three were trained by either Martin Pipe or son David.

As such, both Leoncavallo and the likeable Eamon An Cnoic come into the reckoning today. The Betfair Sportsbook is betting four places in this 15-runner handicap, with the Nathaniel-bred Natural History favourite after a bloodless win at Plumpton. This is much tougher.

Most appealing here is Langer Dan, 9-2 on the Sportsbook. Dan Skelton’s charge was certainly not knocked about by Bridget Andrews at Market Rasen and Dan Skelton takes over now.

The Grade 3 European Breeders’ Fund Paddy Power ‘National Hunt’ Novices’ Handicap Hurdle Final (1.50) is a cracker. Nicky Henderson’s horses should be peaking now and Patroclus, who has shown a terrific attitude in victories at Exeter and Doncaster, might be able to overcome his inexperience at 10-1, with five each-way places.

The British Stallion Studs EBF Mares’ Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race (3.00) sees Megan Nicholls team up with Dad Paul aboard Rainyday Woman. Code Name Lise travelled strongly at Ascot and is preferred at 16-1, while Nicholls’ Stratagem may be able to defy top weight in the Paddy’s Rewards Club Novices’ Handicap Chase (3.35).

It’s one of Dunstall Park’s big days in the calendar, the Bombardier Lady Wulfruna Stakes (2.05) seeing high-class juvenile Mums Tipple bid to end a long losing run. He was unlucky at Lingfield and may be coming to hand now.

The Bombardier British-Hopped Amber Beer Lincoln Trial Handicap (2.40) sees Lewis Edmunds take over on Al Muffrih. He’s gone on a sequence of fourth-place finishes but is clearly competitive and is a big price here.

The Betway Handicap (3.15) is another high-class contest. With a bit of luck in running Streamline (4-1) should go very well here under Rayn Moore, who has a nice draw from which to plan in gate three. Lord Rapscallion, with the tongue tie on, is an interesting alternative.

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