Neil Morrice: UK Racing Tips - Saturday 13 April 2019

Jockeys ride horses

Neil Morrice gives us his best bets and tips for Saturday's racing from around the UK. Tips come your way from Bangor-on-Dee, Wolverhampton as well as the Newbury Spring Meeting and Ayr's Scottish National.

Ayr Scottish National

Coral Scottish Grand National Handicap Chase (Grade 3)

The Scots like nothing better than keeping their most cherished prize within home territory and that factor counts volumes for the prospects of GERONIMO proving he is the chief for trainer Sandy Thomson and jockey Rachael McDonald.

The eight-year-old has progressed at a rate of knots since Thomson sent him chasing this season and both his successes from just four outings came at this track.

Although it's worrying that he's a relatively inexperienced performer, there's no doubting his credentials in every other department. He will love the ground, the fences and the course.

Nicky Richards fields a powerful twin spearhead from his Greystoke base and though CHIDSWELL may start at shorter odds it's TAKINGRISKS that makes more appeal as a possible winner. He's won over hurdles here this season and over fences last March, and can boast a defeat by just half a length by the smart VINTAGE CLOUDS on good ground at Haydock.

BEWARE THE BEAR has earned his burden of 11st 12lb as the top weight stayed on strongly to thwart Vintage Clouds in the Ultima at the Cheltenham Festival. He's gone up 8lb in the weights but remains an unexposed improver that has to be taken seriously.

VINTAGE CLOUDS has been a captain of industry because after his hard race in the Ultima he went to the Grand National only to exit at the first. If the grey were to win this his connections might look upon that early departure as having proved a blessing in disguise. The problem is, Sue Smith's gelding is 9lb higher than when finishing third in this 12 months ago.

At protracted odds, the massive BLUE FLIGHT is worth considering. Nigel Twiston-Davies has won this with a relative novice in the past and has a similar type on his hands in the six-year-old who after beating the smart Black Corton at Kelso ran well in defeat at the same course three weeks ago.

Neil Morrice's Predicted Finish
First: GERONIMO
Second: Blue Flight
Third: Beware The Bear
Fourth: Vintage Clouds
Fifth: Takingrisks

CPMS Scottish Champion Hurdle (Grade 2)

This Limited Handicap often falls into the lap of a lightly weighted improver and Midnight Shadow was a classic example last year.

He landed the spoils carrying 10st 4lb and off that exact same weight DINO VELVET could be the answer this time.

Alan King, who also saddles REDICEAN, is torn between the two but Dino Velvet has the stronger claims taking stock of the fact that until now he's been an underachiever.

That comment certainly doesn't apply when you observe his successes from a declining mark at Market Rasen and Stratford. He's a strong traveller that enjoys coming from off the pace, and the fact that they always go lickety-split in this will play to his strengths.

Redicean finished fourth and behind Verdana Blue at Wincanton in November. He's put in some good efforts on the all-weather subsequently and doesn't look badly treated.

VERDANA BLUE and BRAIN POWER were not at home in the soft ground in the Champion Hurdle with the former nevertheless not disgraced in finishing fifth.

She's a mare with a touch of class that will appreciate any drying in conditions, whilst her burden is eased by Conor Brace's 7lb claim.

MISTER FISHER gives Nicky Henderson a third card to play and this talented novice wasn't disgraced in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle. He's enjoyed a light season, had done nothing wrong before Cheltenham and could easily bounce back.

NUBE NEGRA has headed the ante-post market as a horse that's been campaigned with a spring programme in mind, and hailing from the Dan Skelton stable that is so adept at lining one up for the big day.

Neil Morrice's Predicted Finish
First: DINO VELVET
Second: Verdana Blue
Third: Nube Negra
Fourth: Mister Fisher
Fifth: Brain Power

Newbury Spring Meeting

Watership Down Stud Greenham Stakes (Group 3)

The sudden defection through injury of Too Darn Hot has left this traditional 2,000 Guineas trial wide open. John Gosden's colt would have 12lb and upwards in hand of the others on the official ratings, leaving HELLO YOUMZAIN as the one that sets the standard on form from last year. The Kevin Ryan-trained colt makes the long journey from North Yorkshire as the winner of two of his three career starts, culminating in a clear cut triumph over Queen Of Bermuda in a Group 2 at Madison's-Laffitte.

BOITRON appeals as the likely spearhead of Richard Hannon's assault on this, courtesy of wins in his first three juvenile starts and a creditable fourth in a Group 1 at Longchamp in October, beaten two and three-quarter lengths by Royal Marine.

MAGIC J is perhaps the darkest in the field as punters have just one Yarmouth race from which to assess him. On that occasion the US$950,000 purchase looked a useful prospect as he travelled smoothly throughout and produced a good turn of foot to put the race to bed. He's by the much-vaunted sire Scat Daddy, and it's impossible to know how good he is.

MOHAATHER has winning form over this course and distance last October. In that Group 3 Marcus Tregoning's colt overcame traffic problems to dispose of Azano by a length and a half with his jockey looking to have plenty more horse under him if required.

The opinion Tom Dascombe has of GREAT SCOT was mirrored in that trainer's decision to pitch the colt into the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy in October in which he finished a respectable fifth, beaten only one and a quarter lengths by the winner Magna Grecia.

Neil Morrice's Predicted Finish
First: MOHAATHER
Second: Hello Youmzain
Third: Boitron
Fourth: Magic J
Fifth: Great Scot

Dubai Duty Free Stakes (Registered As The Fred Darling Stakes) (Group 3)

It's so refreshing to see a competitive field for the 1,000 Guineas trial which for the two least experienced in the field, DANCING VEGA and MODERN MILLIE, makes it a step into the dream factory. However, both these individuals make abundant appeal.

DANCING VEGA made an impressive winning debut at Doncaster in October when she humbled subsequent Listed race winner Blue Gardenia by four lengths. The dogs have barked Ralph Beckett's filly for several days now.

MODERN MILLIE was similarly impressive in landing a Leicester maiden on her debut for Mick Channon last autumn, making up her ground steadily and comfortably beating Dancing Rave by half a length. She hails from a stable that saddled the winner of this 12 months ago and has won her preparatory gallops with a taking turn of foot. That suggests she's trained on, but how good she is impossible to gauge.

David Elsworth must never be underestimated and the veteran handler has a serious contender in DANDHU. This filly started her career inauspiciously but made great strides through the 2018 campaign to ultimately finish second, beaten a length and three-quarters, by Just Wonderful in a Group 2 on the Rowley Course at Newmarket. She has a smart change of gear and was a shade unlucky not to nearly win that day.

MUCHLY has the services of Frankie Dettori and showed ability on both two-year-old starts for John Gosden. She opened her account at this course at the back end, and that narrow verdict over Lady Adelaide was endorsed when the latter went one better on her next outing.

ICONIC CHOICE showed herself to be a progressive juvenile by winning three of her four races. The crescendo came when she landed a Listed heat over this course and distance for Tom Dascombe in October.

Neil Morrice's Predicted Finish
First: MODERN MILLIE
Second: Dandhu
Third: Dancing Vega
Fourth: Muchly
Fifth: Iconic Choice

Dubai Duty Free Finest Surprise Stakes ( Registered As The John Porter Stakes)

With his outstanding record at this course, it's hard to look past YOUNG RASCAL who is one to follow this season and can take high rank amongst the older middle-distance performers. Although he came up short in the Derby, he was unbeaten in four other starts including a dead heat with Morando here in October.

The year older DEFOE has also given his best at Newbury, winning the corresponding race 12 months ago impressively. He finished second in two Group 1s and when contesting races from Group 2 down is a seven times winner from nine attempts. Returning from a lengthy break is unlikely the faze the five-year-old either.

MOOTASADIR is very hard to beat on an all-weather surface and will strip as fit as anything in the field after two clear cut triumphs on sand. However, he failed to win on either of his turf starts last summer.

MARMELO is a fascinating runner for local trainer Hughie Morrison, this being the six-year-old's first start since chasing home Cross Counter in the Melbourne Cup at Flemington in early November. He's a progressive individual and not to be underestimated.

With his horses in very good form Mark Johnston's COMMUNIQUE comes into the equation. A dual winner at this venue, he couldn't cut it on his final 2018 start here but Johnston is not averse to deriving abnormal improvement from this type of horse between the ages of three and four.

Neil Morrice's Predicted Finish
First YOUNG RASCAL
Second: Marmelo
Third: Defoe
Fourth: Communique
Fifth Mootasadir

Bangor-on-Dee Best Bets

Race 2: CARRICK ROADS (1)
Trainer: Colin Tizzard
Jockey: Jonjo O'Neill Jnr

The booking of rising star O'Neill takes the eye for CARRICK ROADS who is clearly getting better based on his defeat in a head bob at Fontwell in January. Freshened up by a break, his chance is boosted by Tizzard's decision to step him up markedly on the distance ladder.

Race 2: COMMIS D'OFFICE (3)
Trainer: Venetia Williams
Jockey: Charlie Deutsch

Another that can enjoy a profitable end of season campaign, COMMIS D'OFFICE was only grabbed late after trying to make all over a slightly shorter trip at Catterick. That represented his best run of the season and there's a good chance he can get onto an easy lead at this similarly easy track.

Wolverhampton Best Bets

Race 3: MARSHAL DAN (6)
Trainer: Heather Main
Jockey: Luke Morris

In a tightly-knit affair MARSHAL DAN has plenty going for him as he bids to consolidate a pleasing run over this seven furlongs at Lingfield last month. On that first outing of 2019, he stayed on to finish a length runner-up behind First Link and looking as if the race would bring him on. He has a good midfield draw from which to manoeuvre and take up an attacking position.

Race 6: LUCK OF CLOVER (12)
Trainer: Andrew Balding
Jockey: Martin Dwyer

As the only filly in the race LUCK OF CLOVER gets a handy allowance that she can utilise to good effect. She came from well off the pace to post a frame finish on her first outing of the year at Kempton and will be suited by this longer trip. Her stable is firing on all cylinders.

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