A host of top-class racing action is in store across the UK and Ireland on Friday, including the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter and the opening afternoon of Down Royal’s big jumps weekend.

They are joined by jumps cards from Fontwell and Hexham, as well as all-weather meetings at Newcastle and Dundalk in the evening.

Amongst our Friday fancies is War Lord for red-hot trainer Joe Tizzard, with his laidback style fancied to serve him well in the feature race at Exeter.


  • Exeter 15:35 – War Lord @ 2/1
  • Down Royal 13:30 – Nikini 3/1
  • Newcastle 16:15 – Idoapologise 5/2
  • Dundalk 20:00 – Hale Bopp 16/1

Tip 1

The Haldon Gold Cup (15:35) at Exeter is always one of the staples early in the winter season and champion trainer Paul Nicholls will be hoping 2020 winner Greaneteen can go well but he’s got to concede lumps of weight to rivals Third Time Lucki and WAR LORD (2/1) as they all make their seasonal comebacks.

Third Time Lucki often races too enthusiastically for his own good. Dan Skelton’s charge is a talented performer but his exuberant jumping can sometimes be a negative.

To that effect the market leader is taken on with War Lord for the bang in-form Joe Tizzard team. The Dorset handler has a winning strike-rate of 28 per-cent in recent weeks and War Lord can enhance that.

He won 3-6 as a novice last season, his only defeats coming in Grade 1 company. This trip around Exeter could be an ideal starting point for him this season and Brendan Powell’s partner is fancied to justify his place on the Most Napped table via the Betfred Betfinder today.

Tip 2

It’s a big weekend ahead at Down Royal and Gordon Elliott fires a plethora of stellar names including American Mike, Mighty Potter, Pied Piper and Fil Dor on Friday’s card. The Cullentra handler could do well but let us not forget the name of WP Mullins.

Ireland’s champion trainer has won the Grade 3 Feathard Lady Mares Novice Hurdle (13:30) four times in the last eight years and he is mob-handed with four runners in the 11-runner line-up today.

Paul Townend partners NIKINI (3/1) and it surely can be significant the champion jockey is staying faithful after she made it 2-2 over timber at Listowel in September. They went at a bit of a crawl that afternoon and she did well to win under the circumstances.

Dropped in trip, she can continue her winning ways and avenge last season’s Punchestown bumper defeat behind The Model Kingdom in doing so.

Horse Racing Odds

Tip 3

Despite having to race widest of all on the home bend, IDOAPOLOGISE (5/2) made it two wins in three starts when scoring at Lingfield eight days ago. He still had plenty to do in the home straight, but got there nicely and held off a late challenge to score.

That came in an apprentice contest and so he escapes a penalty here, while rider Ryan Sexton can also make use of his 5lb claim this time around.

Brian Ellison’s charge is clearly thriving right now and while his only defeat in that three-race sequence came here, he didn’t get much luck in the run over 6f that evening and was flashing home to good effect.

The extra furlong is a clear plus and he’s another taken from the Most Napped table via the Betfred Betfinder today.

Tip 4

With this mile handicap on the card at Dundalk being amongst Betfred’s Extra Place Races (first four) today, it could be worth taking an interest in HALE BOPP (16/1) for champion jockey Colin Keane and his boss Ger Lyons.

The Belardo gelding won his maiden over 7f here and tasted his most recent success over this mile distance at Naas on the turf in May. That was off a mark of 85 and while he’s 0-6 on the grass since, he has both run well on occasion and faced down some stiff enough tasks too.

As a consequence, he starts out the winter campaign at Dundalk just 2lb above that previous win-mark and he’s got a fine low draw to work from under Keane this evening.

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