Belami Des Pictons recorded a career best over 3 miles on heavy going at Warwick 17 days ago and, despite a 10lb rise in the weights, looks to have been found another decent opportunity in the Weatherbys Novices’ Chase (2.40) at Leicester on Tuesday. The French import made a mockery of his previous handicap mark, effortlessly drawing clear to beat Arctic Gold by 22 lengths, and can make it five wins from six starts since joining Venetia Williams in March. The son of Grand Prix de Paris winner Khalkevi won over 2 miles 6½ furlongs on good to soft at Newbury on his penultimate start, so shouldn’t be inconvenienced by dropping back in distance. He can take this en route to his chosen engagement at the Cheltenham, which could be the RSA Chase, for which he’s a 40/1 chance.
Selection: Leicester 2.40 Belami Des Pictons to win
The Welsh Open is underway at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff and a flat draw means that all 128 players are involved from round one. However, defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan is seeking to lift the Ray Reardon trophy, as it’s now known, for a record-breaking fifth time and he looks a worthy favourite to do so. Having won a record seventh Masters Title at Alexandra Palace, ‘The Rocket’ lost 5-4 to Mark King in the last 32 of the German Masters and 4-1 to Neil Robertson in the last 16 of the World Grand Prix but, while he may always be at his most vulnerable in best of seven matches, all things are relative and his odds aren’t likely to lengthen as the tournament progresses. In fact, with the likes of John Higgins and Matthew Stevens already having bitten the dust, you may need to hurry to obtain the 9/2 available with Sporting Bet at the time of writing.
Selection: Ronnie O’Sullivan to win outright (9/2 with Sporting Bet)
The Betfair Hurdle (3.35) at Newbury on Saturday should prove as informative as usual, although the progressive seven-year-old Clyne is potentially thrown in, if his most recent form can be taken at face value. Attempting to translate conditions race form back to handicaps is always dangerous, but Evan Williams’ charge was beaten just a length by the 163-rated The New One, in receipt of 8lb, in the Champion Hurdle Trial at Haydock last month, which suggests that even his revised rating of 148 underestimates him. He gets in here off a mark of just 143 so, while it may not pay to be dogmatic, it will be disappointing for all concerned if he doesn’t go very, very close under conditions that should suit him admirably.
Selection: Newbury 3.35 Clyne (6/1 with Betfair Sportsbook) to win
In the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle Trial (2.40) at Musselburgh on Sunday, Peter The Mayo Man has made excellent progress this winter, winning all three starts with a minimum of fuss, and looks a worthy favourite. The Dylan Thomas gelding is clearly in his element on top of the ground so, with conditions once again in his favour, it will take a smart performance to lower his colours.
Wiltshire trainer Neil Mulholland has his string in fine order at present, with nine winners from 27 runners and, while he’s yet to have a runner at Musselburgh, it’s unlikely that Peter The Mayo Man is making the 786-mile round trip up the M6 for the benefit of the outing. He won on his seasonal debut at Worcester in September, so his 94-day absence is less of a worry than might otherwise have been the case.
Selection: Musselburgh 2.40 Peter The Mayo Man (4/1 with Sky Bet) to win