Three bets for Christmas

  • From Spectator Life
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There are only some seven weeks left for connections to get their horses qualified for the 2024 Randox Grand National. This year it will be harder than ever to get a run in the Aintree marathon, with just 34 runners, instead of the usual 40, for safety reasons.

That means a horse will need an official rating of around 147 to be almost certain of getting into the race when the weights are announced in mid-February. Tomorrow there are at least two horses who will be looking to win the Betfred Tommy Whittle Handicap Chase (Haydock 1.30 p.m.) and not just for the £26,000 first prize.

Borders trainer and jockey team Stuart Coltherd and his son, Sam, are keen to run their eight-year-old gelding COOPER’S CROSS in the Grand National on 13 April. However, he is currently only rated 136 which means he would need to win handsomely tomorrow to leap up 10lbs or more in the ratings.

The horse ran very modestly on his re-appearance at Aintree in the BoyleSports Grand Sefton Handicap Chase last month, finishing eighth of the nine finishers and clearly needing his first run of the campaign over a distance well short of his best.

However, he ran some big races last season, notably when runner-up to the well-handicapped Kitty’s Light in the Coral Scottish Grand National at Ayr. That was on good ground but his handler has always insisted he is not ground dependent and goes equally well on very soft going too. I like the fact that he can be backed at 12-1 each way, three places, so that’s the suggested bet with BetVictor, Coral, Ladbrokes or Betfred.

Lambourn handler Warren Greatrex is also keen to get his stable star BILL BAXTER up significantly in the ratings so that he, too, can run in the Grand National. The horse certainly handled the Aintree brush fences with aplomb when he won the Randox-sponsored Topham Handicap Chase in April, defeating 28 other runners in the process.

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