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Five weekend entries to note - including Grand National favourite Cloth Cap

Cloth Cap: entered in the Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster and Premier Chase at Kelso on Saturday
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There is just two weeks to go until the Cheltenham Festival gets under way but there is plenty to look forward to in the meantime. Here are five horses who catch the eye among the weekend entries in Britain . . .

Bareback Jack (1.30/3.15 Kelso)

This Donald McCain-trained five-year-old, owned by Tim Leslie, boasts a perfect 3-3 record under rules and produced a career-best performance last time when landing the Scottish Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Musselburgh last month.


Saturday entries


Bareback Jack, who is entered in the Sky Bet Supreme at the Cheltenham Festival, has two options at Kelso on Saturday – the Grade 2 bet365 Premier Novices’ Hurdle or the similarly sponsored Morebattle Hurdle.

What they say
Champion jockey Brian Hughes, following victory at Musselburgh last time: “He’s a horse we've always liked and that ground is sticky enough for him. He's a lovely horse – he's not a natural front-runner and he wasn't slick over the last but he's got a fair engine.”

El Drama (2.00 Lingfield)

El Drama created a good impression when winning a maiden on his debut at Doncaster at the backend of last season, a race from which the second, third and fourth have won.

The Sheikh Mohammed Obaid-owned colt could make his first start at three in the Ladbrokes-sponsored Listed Spring Cup at Lingfield on Saturday that has been won by Ertijaal and Dubawi Gold in the past ten years.

Roger Varian: hopes El Drama can make into a Pattern-race horse

What they say
Trainer Roger Varian, after the debut victory on Town Moor: “El Drama is a lovely colt and I think he has a bright future. I hope he could make into a Pattern-race horse. A lot of horses win impressively first time out and not many make the grade in Pattern races, we're not putting him on any pedestal and we'll let him do the talking. But he has a big pedigree and he's a good-looking colt so there's no reason not to be optimistic.”

Proschema (2.30 Newbury/3.15 Kelso)

Classy Flat horse Proschema could tee up a tilt at the McCoy Contractors County Hurdle if successful at Newbury or Kelso on Saturday.

Proschema: proved his wellbeing recently with two wins in jumpers' bumpers

A largely dry week should ensure Proschema, rated 102 on the Flat, has conditions to suit. If successful in the £75,000 bet365 Morebattle Hurdle at Kelso, he would be eligible for a £100,000 bonus if going on to win the County Hurdle later in the month – a race that Skelton has won in three of the last five years.

What they say
Trainer Dan Skelton in a recent Cheltenham Festival stable tour: “Proschema will need to go up in the weights to make the cut for the County Hurdle but he’s desperate for a bit of decent ground.”

Cloth Cap (2.40 Kelso/3.30 Doncaster)

Randox Grand National favourite Cloth Cap could be set for his final start before the Aintree showpiece in the Virgin Bet Grimthorpe Handicap Chase at Doncaster or the Listed bet365 Premier Chase at Kelso on Saturday.

The Jonjo O’Neill-trained nine-year-old won the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury in December and is a general 14-1 favourite to win the Grand National.

What they say
Trainer Jonjo O’Neill in a recent big interview with the Racing Post: “Cloth Cap was an ordinary horse throughout his early career but he's now gone from 134 to 148 and that makes him a National horse. Whether he's good enough for that we still don't know, but he jumps and he stays, which are two of the things you need for the job, and Aintree is the plan barring accidents.”

Dickie Diver (3.40 Newbury/2.30 Huntingdon, Sun)

This lightly raced but talented eight-year-old needs to run for a second time over fences to qualify for the National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival and is entered in a novice chase at Newbury on Saturday and beginners’ chase at Huntingdon on Sunday.

Dickie Diver: will qualify for the National Hunt Chase by running over fences this weekend

The JP McManus-owned Dickie Diver finished fourth in the 2019 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle and second on his chase debut at Newbury in December. He could be ideally suited by a stiff stamina test in the National Hunt Chase, for which he is a best price 20-1 with William Hill, while he is 33-1 with the same firm and bet365 to win the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase.

What they say
Trainer Nicky Henderson in a recent Cheltenham Festival stable tour: “I was pleased with his first run over fences in a two-mile, six-and-a-half-furlong novice handicap chase at Newbury. He jumped and finished his race well. He needs another run before we can decide where he is going but he has all the credentials to make a high-class chaser, especially on soft ground.”


If you want more on this story . . .

What's On This Week: classy midweek action before Grand National clues from Doncaster and Kelso

Another View: who needs a chocolate when there is a treat like this to look forward to? (£)

Cloth Cap proves a perfect Trophy fit after storming home under happy Scudamore


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He jumps and he stays, which are two of the things you need for the job, and Aintree is the plan barring accidents
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