Horse racing tips: Johnny Ward’s best bets this week


uite whether the proliferation of mares’ races at the Cheltenham Festival nowadays is good for the product or not is up for debate but such events dominate the early part of the action this week.

The warmer weather over the weekend allied to some top-notch jumps action at Ascot, Newbury and Navan provided a much-needed reprieve from the monotony of lockdown and the quality is far from shabby this week as we continue the countdown to Cheltenham.

Wetherby’s Mares’ Handicap Hurdle (3.55) on Tuesday sees Ben Case put cheekpieces on Midnightreflection, who is top weight but does have the help of Bryan Carver’s 3lb claim. Perhaps she was a shade disappointing at Kempton but she has plenty of ability in the context of a race like this.

The opening BoscaSports The Retail Bookmakers Choice Novices’ Hurdle (1.45) is a competitive contest and Kim Bailey will be hoping that a tongue tie makes the difference aboard Balleticon. This seven-year-old may have struggled on the heavy ground at Ludlow but deserves another chance in this company.

Over in Somerset, Taunton commences with the British EBF Mares’ ‘National Hunt’ Novices’ Hurdle (1.00). It was a hell of a Saturday for the Skelton brothers, Dan and Harry, and Global Harmony looks an obvious contender here. She never seems to run a bad race and makes plenty of each-way appeal here at 5-1 on the Betfair Sportsbook.

The Dorset & Somerset Air Ambulance Handicap Hurdle (2.30) can go to King Roland, who remains a horse of immense potential. He had a wind operation before his Uttoxeter effort and still has time on his side, with odds of 4.3 (100-30) attractive on Betfair about the mount of the in-form Jonjo O’Neill Jr.

Ring The Moon should take an awful lot of beating in the Kate Austen Misses Her Racing Handicap Chase (2.00) at around 2.6 (8-5) on Betfair – and we can all relate to Kate’s sense of loss!

There’s classy action at Doncaster with some popular old boys taking centre stage in the Virgin Bet Veterans’ Handicap Chase (3.30). Both Nicky Richards and Guitar Pete are still going strong and the son of Dark Angel has the class to win this if he can get over his fall when travelling fine at Kempton.

At Chepstow on Thursday, the Pertemps Industrial Handicap Hurdle (1.55) sees the veteran Eamon An Cnoic reappear a week after his bloodless win at Sandown, when he was always travelling and slammed the hot favourite by 20 lengths. Reverting to hurdles has done this horse no harm whatever and he has a massive chance here.

Over at Thurles, it is striking to witness the resurgence of Mouse Morris, who has three strong entries in the Grade 3 Markaye Contracts Ltd Michael Purcell Memorial Novice Hurdle (3.50), with Gentlemansgame the pick after a superb run at the Dublin Racing Festival.

Terms: Min £20 in Exch bets on Saturday races, excludes ante-post. Max £10 free bet per qualifying day, awarded 15/03. Betfair Rewards ‘Basic’ customers excluded. T&Cs apply

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