Neil Morrice shares all of his best bets and tips for Thursday’s racing coming your way from Doncaster, Huntingdon, Lingfield Park and Newcastle on 8 February 2024.
Race 1 No11 PIC ROC (Nap)
Trainer: Ben Pauling – Jockey: David Bass
PIC ROC can consolidate his trainer’s very good record with novices at this track by taking out the opener. The chestnut ran into a useful opponent when just held by Hasthing at Catterick, having been a 40-1 roughie when taking away a minor cheque on his first run over hurdles at Newbury. He carries the profile of
a progressive improver that should have a lot more to offer.
Race 5 No2 SAMMY’S GUARANTEE
Trainer: Tom Lacey – Jockey: Stan Sheppard
The Lacey stable has started the year well with its handicappers of whom SAMMY’S GUARANTEE makes her debut in that division. The hooded five-year-old left her previous form a long way behind on the back of a wind operation when beating Classic King in novice company at this course last month. The latter ran well in defeat at Taunton on Tuesday to give the form a boost.
Race 6 No7 AIRTOTHETHRONE (Each Way)
Trainer: Tim Vaughan – Jockey: Conor Ring
A breathing operation can also prove instrumental in AIRTOTHETHRONE running well in this three-mile handicap chase. A faller at Lingfield when last seen before Christmas, the eight-year-old often attracts support, so a close watch on the betting market is recommended.
Race 2 No7 GOBLET OF FIRE
Trainer: Nicky Henderson – Jockey: James Bowen
Bowen has made the best of his opportunities during Nico de Boinville’s enforced absence through injury, and he should further add to his tally aboard GOBLET OF FIRE in the colours of the King. The four-year-old faces mainly older rivals but has scope for plenty of improvement on this third run over hurdles. Under Bowen he made no mistake at Hereford last month, and went well in his winding up gallop for this.
Race 4 M1 AGENCY SIDNEY BANKS MEMORIAL NOVICES’ HURDLE
Trainer: Ben Pauling – Jockey: Harry Cobden
One of the marquee races at this course can see HANDSTANDS stretching his unbeaten record over hurdles to three. The former Irish point winner prevailed in smooth style at Hereford and Newcastle, showing an ability to handle contrasting types of ground. He gets a handy weight concession from Jango Baie and Diamond Ri, and may have most to fear from the only other runner, Bugise Seagull.
Race 6 No9 CROSSBEAU (Nap)
Trainer: Tim Vaughan – Jockey: Alan Johns
The frustrations of jumping were starkly illustrated when my selection CROSSBEAU unseated his pilot when holding a six lengths lead at Chepstow’s final flight last week. The five-year-old had travelled and jumped beautifully until that point, and re-emerges as a winner without a penalty.
Race 2 No1 QUEEN OF ZAFEEN
Trainer: Richard Hughes – Jockey:
As the only winner in the field QUEEN OF ZAFEEN sets a high bar for her rivals to aim at, and can remain unbeaten. The Ten Sovereigns filly short-headed a previous scorer in Solomon at Southwell. She’s learned plenty from the experience, and can take the spoils at the main expense of Kinako Mochi.
Race 7 No3 NIGHT ON EARTH (Nap)
Trainer: Ian Williams – Jockey: Rossa Ryan
A blanket can be thrown over Level Up, Harb and NIGHT ON EARTH based on their recent running at this course, but the last-named horse can come out on top. With leading all-weather rider Ryan returning to his saddle, the six-year-old has his tail up, and can consolidate.
Race 1 No10 SKYE BREEZE (Nap)
Trainer: Ed Bethell – Jockey: Callum Rodriguez
SKYE BREEZE hasn’t been without his problems, but takes a good win to run record to post for this stayers’ handicap. He landed some good bets when returning from a two-and-a-half-month break at Southwell and was a course and distance scorer here last winter. With so few miles on his racing clock the chestnut could have more to offer.
Race 2 No9 EXPLORERS WAY
Trainer: Brian Ellison – Jockey: Ben Robinson
EXPLORERS WAY returned to winning ways when strong in the market at this course last month. The Australia gelding faces mainly out of form rivals and has a good opportunity to follow-up.
Race 6 No6 MORE THAN A FEELIN
Trainer: Alice Haynes – Jockey: Kieran O’Neill
Sea The Stars filly MORETHAN A FEELIN finds herself debuting in a weak looking maiden. The pick of the field on pedigree, she comes from a yard that can have them ready and can score on this belated introduction.