The Cotswold Chase (2.15), run over 3 miles 1 furlong and 56 yards, has been a poor race for favourites, with no market leader successful in the last 10 years. However, not too many of them could be mentioned in the same breath as this year’s favourite, Thistlecrack, a facile winner of all four starts over fences, including the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day, and officially the highest-rated chaser in training in Great Britain. Although available at prohibitive odds (4/9), the former World Hurdle winner is confidently expected to take care of last year’s winner and runner-up, Smad Place and Many Clouds, as he continues his preparation for the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Selection: Cheltenham 2.35 Thistlecrack (4/9 with Bet Stars or Betway) to win
The Lanzarote Hurdle (2.40) at Kempton on Saturday hasn’t been a bad race for favourites in recent years, with four, including one joint-favourite, successful since distance was increased to 2 miles 5 furlongs ten years ago. This year, Jonjo O’Neill’s unbeaten five-year-old Doesyourdogbite (6/1, in a place, but generally shorter) heads the market and looks an exciting prospect.
The Notnowcato gelding has improved with each starts over obstacles and made a successful handicap debut in a 0-140 contest over course and distance on Boxing Day. He’s been raised 6lb for that success, but won readily and still looks feasibly weighted. The going at Kempton is currently good to soft and although rain, heavy in places, is forecast on Thursday, the outlook for Friday and Saturday is drier and brighter, so he should have underfoot conditions to suit.
Selection: Kempton 2.40 Doesyourdogbite (6/1 with Coral) to win