Not that we’re counting or anything, but just two weekends remain on the countdown to Cheltenham 2023.
Though some have already plotted and planned their journey to Gloucestershire later this month, for others, this weekend holds the earlier priority.
Saturday in particular sees action at Kelso, Newbury and Doncaster.
However, so close to the festival will anything be learnt from Saturday’s three cards?
We’ve picked out one name to watch from each meeting.
13:50, Kelso, Morebattle Hurdle (Group 2, 4yo+, 2m)
There is a strong Cheltenham presence on hand in our pick from Kelso, the bet365 Morebattle Hurdle.
Teddy Blue is our punt in Scotland.
A sixth run of the season for Gary Moore’s ride since wind surgery, the 5yo was third at 10/1 over the same distance at Newbury last time out.
Finishing behind Aucunrisque and Filey Bay last month in the Betfair Hurdle however, Jamie Moore rode Teddy Blue to victory in January at Lincoln.
Moore could jump back into the saddle in favour of Caolin Quinn here and will be looking to impress with his current steep price in the SkyBet Supreme next up.
Could a 6/1 shot with Ladbrokes and Coral be a tidy earner for punters? We believe it can.
14:45, Newbury, BetVictor Greatwood Gold Cup (Group 1, 5yo+, 2m4f)
Saturday’s sole Group 1 contest in Berkshire comes from the BetVictor Greatwood Gold Cup Handicap Chase and we are turning to Zanza to make it three wins in-a-row at Newbury.
At the time of writing, none of the seven-strong field are making the trip to Cheltenham but this is nonetheless very competitive.
In the case of Zanza, the mount of Tom O’Brien came home a hefty 16/1 winner by seven lengths on this very course less than a month back.
A prior win in front of the Berkshire Stand came in late November, sandwiched by a seventh at Wetherby exactly a month later – won by Ultima Handicap favourite, Into Overdrive.
To say Zanza has form at Newbury is an understatement and at 11/4 for 5 places with William Hill, has to be worth a decent stake.
15:15, Doncaster, Virgin Bet Grimthorpe Handicap Chase (Group 2, 5yo+, 3m2f)
Our third punt of the weekend comes from South Yorkshire and the Virgin Bet Grimthorpe Handicap Chase at Doncaster.
Here at BestofBets we prefer to veer from the favourites and look for better value, but Cooper’s Cross does look the choice here.
The father-son duo of Stuart and Sam Coltherd are currently with two options for Cheltenham: The Ultima or the Magners Plate.
The latter could carry greater hopes for the Irish 8yo but the trip here could be revealing.
The journey here is just 1f longer than the Ultima so if the gelding does impress, an about turn could yet be on the cards.
Cooper’s Cross has happy memories of Doncaster with victory last time out and in total has won half of his contests this term.
In the last seven outings the horse has come at worst third – with the exception of being pulled up at Sedgefield last January.
Races in the region of 3m suit Cooper’s Cross and having beaten Cap Du Nord just over a month ago, has the pedigree to come on top.
And, if we consider a price of 9/4 with PaddyPower for the current pundit’s pick, Cooper’s Cross can deliver.