Full race previews and free betting tips for each race shown live today on Channel 4.
Another bumper Saturday on Channel 4 which, this week, is headlined by the Scottish National and Scottish Champion Hurdle races from Ayr. Newbury hosts a quality flat card alongside the jumps and three Group races take centre stage.
The coverage opens up with the John Porter, a competitive, classy Group 3 with a rich heritage.
Cubanita (10/1 Betfred) closed out last season with a C&D win in a Group 3. She has won on good ground as well as heavy so further drying of the surface shouldn't pose too many problems, although her three career wins have all come in the Autumn.
Noble Mission (5/1 William Hill) is a quirky sort who was sent off a hot favourite for this race last year before finding little off the bridle having travelled well. He acts on any ground but doesn't win as often as he should for one of his ability.
Khione (8/1 Coral) goes well fresh as she showed when making a winning reappearance at Goodwood last year in a Listed contest. She hasn't been seen since and those she beat have failed to win in 26 combined starts since.
ASTONISHING (4/1 SkyBet) improved when stepped up to 1m 4f last year, rounding out her campaign with a wide margin win in a Listed contest at Newmarket. This is her toughest assignment to date but, after just six races, it's hard not to envisage further improvement.
1.50 Betting Tip – ASTONISHING (WIN) (4/1 SkyBet)
The Future Champion Novice Chase doesn't exactly live up to its name most years but it has been won by solid yardsticks in the past.
VALDEZ (11/10 bet365) ran a great race when 5th in the Arkle, just finding true two milers a little too strong close home. The step up in trip will be in his favour and he looks a solid selection after having had a relatively light campaign.
Eduard (15/8 Betfred) would ideally prefer a bit of extra juice in the ground than he is going to get here but it shouldn't stop him running a big race. Successful twice already this season at Carlisle and here at Ayr, he takes a step up in grade but the favourite aside it wouldn't be the strongest chase.
Miley Shah (6/1 Ladbrokes) wouldn’t have the same scope for improvement as the front two in the betting but is comfortably third best in. It's a long way home back across the Irish sea empty handed so connections would appear to be expecting a solid run.
2.05 Betting Tip – VALDEZ (WIN) (11/10 bet365)
The Fred Darling is not the mainstream 1000 Guineas trial it once was, with changes in training techniques leading to so many going to Newmarket fresh, but it's still a strong race.
AL THAKHIRA (7/2 Betfred) was an impressive winner of the Rockfel at Newmarket in October following up a maiden win at Yarmouth. She was massively below par at the Breeders Cup meeting in November (could have been due to the quick ground she encountered), and back on a softer surface she should go well.
Coral Mist (6/1 William Hill) improved with each visit to the track last year, completing her juvenile campaign in a Group 3 at Ayr. She stayed on powerfully that day to suggest a step up to this trip is exactly what she is looking for.
Joyeuse (9/2 Ladbrokes) rounded out her juvenile campaign with a solid effort in the Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket, getting a shade outpaced before staying on up the hill. The step up in trip looks in her favour on that effort and she is respected.
2.20 Betting Tip – AL THAKHIRA (WIN) (7/2 Betfred)
As a handicap, the Scottish Champion Hurdle has a massively lopsided look to it with only three of these in the handicap proper.
My Tent Or Yours (Evs Coral) has to give lumps of weight away all round, 16lbs plus to all of his rivals in this race. He put in a career leading effort last time when only giving best close home in the Champion Hurdle. Undoubtedly the class act in the race, he will find the flat track in his favour and should prove to be hard to beat.
Court Minstrel (8/1 bet365) was victorious in this contest last year and showed his current well being when getting his head back in front at Aintree a week ago. These conditions are ideal but he was beaten twice in handicaps off lesser marks in the Autumn.
Flaxen Flare (12/1 Ladbrokes) is the only other runner in the handicap, coming here off the back of another solid effort this season in the County Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. He has spent the season finding a couple too good and while he should go well it's likely he will be running for a place again.
MONTBAZON (6/1 Coral) was in front of Flaxen Flare at Cheltenham last time after returning from a long absence at Newbury. He was a top class novice two years ago when 4th in the Supreme Novices showing there, and last time, that the Cheltenham hill just taxes his stamina. This flatter track should play to his strengths and he is very interesting.
Cockney Sparrow (12/1 William Hill) kicked the season off with a nice display at Wetherby before running a career best at Newcastle. She is 13lbs better off with My Tent Or Yours on their Fighting Fifth run for just a three length beating but the favourite was well in command at the finish.
2.40 Betting Tip – MONTBAZON (WIN) (6/1 Coral)
The Greenham is a very classy looking renewal with a number of 2000 Guineas hopefuls putting their Classic credentials on the line.
Astaire (8/1 Ladbrokes) proved very hard to catch when getting in front early on picking up first the Gimcrack at York then the Middle Park at Newmarket. The step up to seven furlongs is a slight doubt given his point and shoot running style but he has been getting positive reports from home having wintered well and grown stronger. His pedigree would suggest that the trip should be within his compass and as the sole Group 1 winner has to head any short list.
On the other hand, Berkshire (8/1 SkyBet) steps down in trip having signed off last year in the Royal Lodge at Newmarket. He also won the Chesham at Royal Ascot but winners of that generally improve over further and he is likely to do much better over middle distances.
KINGMAN (7/4 William Hill) and Night Of Thunder (7/2 Betfred) both arrive looking to defend their unbeaten records. The first named ran away with a Newmarket maiden before impressively winning a Group 3 at Sandown. He still looked to have a lot of growing up to do at Sandown so should improve plenty this season and should win if he's going to live up to his lofty Guineas market position.
The latter travelled supremely well at both Goodwood in a maiden and then in a Doncaster Listed race within a fortnight last back end. This is a very different test but he has been well supported recently in the 2000 Guineas market so evidently has been impressing the work watchers at home.
2.55 Betting Tip – KINGMAN (WIN) (7/4 William Hill)
It's a tricky looking two mile handicap chase next up which is likely to be a good test given the track.
Manyriverstocross (3/1 Ladbrokes) improved back down to the minimum trip on quicker ground at Ascot last time where he dug deep in a driving finish. A 6lb rise for that is harsh on the face of it but he isn't exposed over fences yet.
VALCO DE TOUZAINE (11/2 SkyBet) will relish being back on better ground here having been found wanting of late in very deep ground. The youngest in the field, he wouldn't exactly be well handicapped but that can be said about most and he is the most open to improvement.
Upsilon Bleu (9/2 William Hill) is a strong traveller and should find things working out well for him here. He does however not find a huge amount off the bridle and has been steadily climbing the handicap without winning and a place might be the best he can do again.
His Excellency (7/1 SkyBet) was second in this race last year off an 8lb higher mark but has looked increasingly reluctant to show his best this year in the main. He did however consent to put his best foot forward off this mark at Musselburgh in February and would be dangerous if in the mood again.
3.15 Betting Tip – VALCO DE TOUZAINE (WIN) (11/2 SkyBet)
The Spring Cup is always fiercely competitive with runners from the Lincoln regularly using this as their second stepping stone in the season.
Four of these come here from the Lincoln including top weight and winner of that race Ocean Tempest (18/1 Coral). He was rock fit from a Dubai campaign there and without that benefit off a higher mark would need to pull out extra to follow up.
One Word More (12/1 bet365) was well touted in the Lincoln but got very riled up at the start in the stalls and was withdrawn. Charlie Hills has his yard in decent nick and this son of Thousand Words won when fresh last year so is of interest.
BRONZE ANGEL (16/1 Ladbrokes) is looking well handicapped just 1lb higher than when successful in the 2012 Cambridgeshire. He hasn't been in the same form since but could be nicely drawn and has won fresh in the past.
Tinghir (16/1 bet365) and BROWNSEA BRINK (10/1 Coral) were both progressive last year during their three year old campaigns so it will be interesting to see how they kick things off this year. The former might be in need of the run having needed a pipe opener last year but the latter should be spot on having run close to his best over an inadequate trip at Lingfield on his return.
So Beloved (9/1 William Hill) was inconsistent last season but on one of his better days would have a solid chance here. Positive – just 3lbs higher than his win at Haydock last year with Oisin Murphy taking those three off but the negative would be the last time he ran in a similarly big field handicap at Royal Ascot when looking all at sea.
3.30 Betting Tips – BRONZE ANGEL (E/W) (16/1 Ladbrokes)
– BROWNSEA BRINK (E/W) (10/1 Coral)
The Scottish National is the highlight of the day just a week after it's more illustrious namesake. The distance is still extreme and the top weight is the same.
Tidal Bay (14/1 bet365) is the horse in question, no worse for his exertions last Saturday albeit off a 5lb higher mark. This track is unlikely to play to his strengths and as much as the heart would love to see see him run well the head can't have it.
Sam Winner (12/1 William Hill) and Mendip Express (12/1 SkyBet) met earlier in the campaign at Newbury when the latter was patently well below his best. Both are young enough to have further improvement likely and equally both look as if they should be suited by this sort of stamina test.
GREEN FLAG (11/1 Coral) never looked comfortable dealing with the Cheltenham undulations last time so it is to his credit that he stayed on well up the hill to grab 4th. Both the first two in that contest, Holywell and Ma Filleule, followed up with wins at Aintree to massively frank the form. This test looks ideal and back on a more conventional track he gets the nod with Peter Buchanan choosing him over three others he is the regular pilot of.
Alpha Victor (25/1 William Hill) caught a tartar in the rejuvenated Goulanes in the Midlands National the last time we saw him off this mark. Stamina is his forte so on a going day he would look a big each-way price but he has refused in the past which tempers confidence.
AL CO (50/1 Coral) is interesting coming back from a break having run over hurdles on his two most recent starts. He's a quirky sort who needs things to drop right as they did at Chepstow in October. This is the type of race where he might enjoy having them stop in front of him and the step-up in trip might be the making of him.
Others out of the handicap who are worth a mention in an ultra competitive race are Lie Forrit (20/1 Betfred), Roalco Des Farges (11/1 Betfred) and Trustan Times (14/1 SkyBet), all of whom ran their best race for a while on their most recent start. Conditions should suit all three and despite being out of the weights none are exactly badly handicapped and should go well.
3.50 Betting Tip – GREEN FLAG (WIN) (11/1 Coral)
– AL CO (E/W) (50/1 Coral)