Iris's Gift to Lingfield

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If you feel the temptation to go racing on Saturday you are spoilt for choice. There is a spread of excellent cards from Haydock on Merseyside, to Lingfield near the south London suburbs and down to Wincanton in rural Somerset.

The biggest betting race is the Red Square Vodka Gold Cup at Haydock, but the most fascinating contest is at Lingfield, best known for the quotidian fare that is all-weather racing. But on Saturday its turf track will be graced by the long-anticipated chasing debut of Stayers' Hurdle winner Iris's Gift.

The totesport Chase looks like a tough race to take a bow - especially when the competition includes top novice Ollie Magern and the proven listed performer Hand Inn Hand.

Further ticks in the debit column for Iris's Gift include a 296-day absence from the racecourse and a virus in the yard of trainer Jonjo O'Neill that has kept his horses at home since Christmas.

However, hold your breath and back this horse. If he is fit enough and can jump the bigger obstacles his class will tell.

Owner Robert Lester thinks his horse will win the Cheltenham Gold Cup. That is a dream, but Iris's Gift could be good enough to win on Saturday.

Haydock's Red Square Vodka Gold Cup will be a slog through the mud. Baron Windrush is a worthy favourite and can be backed with plenty of confidence. Another novice, Frantic Tan, won this for team Twiston- Davies in 2001.

Baron Windrush has gone up ten pounds in the handicap for his win in the totesport Classic at Warwick but that might not be enough to stop him following up.

In the Country Gentle- men's Association Chase at Wincanton Royal Auclair can make it four victories from four attempts in this race for trainer Paul Nicholls. The threat is former two-mile champion and King George winner Edredon Bleu.

Selections

2.10 Lingfield: Iris's Gift (win)

2.25 Haydock: Baron Windrush (win)

3.35 Wincanton: Royal Auclair (win)

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