Horse Racing Tips | 18th February 2017

Racing expert Graeme Johnston is on hand to pick his best bets from Saturday’s meetings.

15:35 Ascot

The Ascot Chase is the highlight of the weekend and has attracted Cue Card who is National Hunt royalty. He was slightly disappointing last time in the King George and comes here on a recovery mission and is short odds to get his head back in front.

He is the most likely winner however I plan to take him on with an each way play. Taquin Du Seuil has returned to form this season and followed up his big Cheltenham handicap win with a solid effort in the Lexus chase at Leopardstown.

Strangely he’s only ran once here before when chasing home My Tent Or Yours in a novice hurdle race in 2012 however I can’t see him not handling the track. He will appreciate the ground and looks the most likely benefactor if Cue Card doesn’t perform.

15:05 Gowran Park

The Red Mills Trial is a Grade 2 hurdle that has produced some good winners down the years and Hardy Eustace won this before going on to win the Champion Hurdle. Three of the field today are proven group horses and we have a previous Champion Hurdle winner in the field too.

While the race revolves around Jezki and where he goes after this race I don’t think it’s a formality he wins here. He was returning from a huge absence last time out and the bounce factor has to be a worry here. He is a top class hurdler and I really like him but at 1/3 he is risky.

Tombstone was third to Jezki last time on his own return from a break and is likely to be much fitter here. He is also 6lbs better off today and will appreciate the ground. He wasn’t far off the best novices around last season and as long as five line up I will be backing him each-way here on the basis I can’t see him being out the first two.

15:15 Haydock

The Betfred Grand National Trial is the first recognised trial since the weights were announced and this looks a typically wide open renewal. Whoever wins this will have realistic hopes of winning the big race at Aintree and it’s a race worth watching.

The one I like here is the Sue Smith trained Vintage Clouds. His colours are synonymous with Aintree glory and he is a young stayer of real potential. He fell 3 out when one of the few to get into the race behind Bristol De Mai last time and looks like he needs a trip already.

He has plenty of course form and gets in to this race with a decent weight on his back. The stable and jockey are both going well and everything looks in place for a big run here. I will be keeping a close eye on Vicente who I like for the big race come April however today I have backed Vintage Clouds each-way.

Graeme Johnston’s Best Bets

13:35 Ascot – Taquin Du Seuil

15:05 Gowran Park – Tombstone each-way

15:15 Haydock – Vintage Clouds each-way