Newbury in Britain and Leopardstown in Ireland stage some cracking National Hunt action this weekend with the Betfair Hurdle at the Berkshire track on Saturday afternoon and the Irish Gold Cup on Sunday the highlights despite the possible presence of jumping stars Altior, Native River and Bristol De Mai to name just a few.

Ballyandy and Clyne ( both 5-1 with Ladbrokes ) are currently vying for favouritism in the race known for many years as the Schweppes Gold Trophy and won by some big hurdling names during it’s long history, notably Persian War and Make A Stand, both Champion Hurdle winners. Last season’s Champion Bumper winner looks like he has been let in lightly off a mark of just 135 and has every chance of providing trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies with a second victory in the race following Splash Of Ginge in 2014.

The two races preceding the big hurdle are the Betfair Denman Chase which features the clash of two Cheltenham Gold Cup aspirants in Native River and Bristol De Mai and the shorter Betfair Exchange Chase ( Game Spirit ) where the top novice Altior could face Queen Mother Champion Chase second favourite Fox Norton provided the ground is deemed suitable for the Racing Post Arkle Chase odds-on favourite.

Native River is a top price evens with Paddy Power and Ladbrokes for the Gold Cup trial with the Peter Marsh Chase winner a best 6-4 with Coral and William Hill. For the two mile chase Bet365 make Altior a 4-9 shot against the 7-2 of Fox Norton but Betfair Sportsbook have the pair much closer in the ante-post market going 8-11 and 5-2 respectively.

The other major race at the weekend is the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown although the extended three mile Grade 1 contest is unlikely to have much bearing on next month’s Gold Cup at Prestbury Park. The two horses at the head of the betting - Don Poli ( 3-1 Boylesports ) and Minella Rocco ( 9-2 Coral ) are both 20-1 chance for Cheltenham while Empire Of Dirt ( 9-2 Betfair Sportsbook ) and the winner of the last two renewals - Carlingford Lough ( 6-1 Ladbrokes and Coral ) have the Randox Health Grand National as a more realistic target.

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