The biggest weekend of the National Hunt season thus far will see 28 races on Saturday and a further 22 on Sunday across the UK and Ireland. As well as previewing the Weekend’s Racing, the MerseySportLive Horse Racing Team have added a few Weekend Fancies below.

ITV will have a staggering 9 live races on Saturday with the programme starting at 1pm on ITV4, Live from Wetherby racecourse. It will feature four races from the Wetherby card as well as four from Ascot and the Grade 1, Ladbrokes Champion Chase from Down Royal.

The only National Hunt meeting that will not be on TV will be the seven-race card from Ayr. This features the Gordon’s Pink Gin handicap chase over two miles, where in-form Brian Ellison trains the favourite Ballyvic Boru. The main feature race on the card is the Tennent’s Cup Scottish Champion Hurdle Trial with a prize pot of just under £20,000. There are 9 runners expected.

The action gets underway at 13:20 with the Class 3, bet365 handicap chase over 2m3½f. Oak Vintage is expected to head the market with the idea trainer, Phillip Kirby, has aim the horse for this race. The horse has a mixed bag of form but runs off a mark that will look a tough to beat, thus making it a competitive handicap and a great start to the afternoon’s entertainment.

Moving to Ascot for Race 2 at 13:35, the Ascot Underwriting Chase. Over a similar distance to the Race 1 but this race is for Novice Chasers. Looks to be a cracking race for each-way punters. On the Slopes for Chris Gordon and Tom Cannon appears to be the gamble of this one, moving from 14/1 into 9/1, worth a second look.

Back to Wetherby for the 13:55 which is Race 3 of the afternoon. Zambella is a debutant for The Twiston-Davies’, she has won twice over obstacles in France but is yet to run on English soil. The two mares that head the market have clashed before at Doncaster this year with Lady Buttons, trained by the before-mentioned Phillip Kirby, beating Indefatigable but a neck.

13 runners will take 13 fences in the 14:10 at Ascot in the 2mile listed race. There are many chances in this one, including Dr Richard Newland’s Caid du Lin. Ran a career best last November to see off fellow runner Speredek over this course and distance, and is somewhat of an Ascot specialist.

For an interval, we head to Ireland for the classiest race of the afternoon, the Ladbrokes Champion Chase. Only 5 horses are prestigious enough to line up for this Grade 1, with the sole English representative being Paul Nicholls trained Clan Des Obeaux. Third in Cheltenham’s RSA Chase at the festival, Delta Work, for Irish Champion Trainer Gordon Elliot is head of affairs. But, none of the runners can be ruled out of this eighty-eight thousand-euro steeplechase.

Back to Ascot for a quick looking handicap hurdle over a sharp two miles. Some bookmakers will offer to play extra places for this one at 14:45. 16 runners over 8 flights of hurdles, this one could be a rather speedy event.

Edging closer to the main event, the penultimate contest from Wetherby comes at 15:05. Looks to be an interesting renewal of the bet365 hurdle, with stars such as Grade one winner, Unowhatimeanharry and Cheltenham festival winner of this year Le Breuil. Many chances in this one.

The final race broadcast from Ascot is the Sodexo Gold Cup Handicap Chase, featuring 17 runners who will take 20 fences on the 3mile journey. Red hot favourite Vinndication, is a very short price but looks to be off a healthy handicap mark. A solid jumping performance from the six-year-old should give Trainer Kim Bailey, every hope when the horses turn for home.

15:40 Wetherby is the call time for Champion Jockey Richard Johnson to saddle the superstar that is La Bague Au Roi in the Charlie Hall Chase. The Mares’ Trainer, Warren Greatrex, said last week: “We schooled her this morning and she was breath taking”. The 8-year-old is making her season reappearance after just being touched off by Kalashnikov, at the Aintree festival in April.


Cheltenham Gold Cup contender Lostintranslation is also set for his season reappearance at Carlisle on Sunday in the Colin Parker Memorial listed race. He will take on fellow Aintree winner Kildisart in the two-and-a-half-mile Chase, which is set the post time of 14:30.



MerseySportLive’s weekend fancies:



13:20 Wetherby – Oak Vintage

13:35 Ascot – Cervaro Mix

14:10 Ascot – Cap St Vincent

15:20 Ascot – Mister Malarky


14:10 Ascot – Caid Du Lin

15:40 Wetherby – La Bague Au Roi


14:25 Down Royal – Delta Work