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WATCH: Upping The Ante: Love is in the air

It's already episode 10 of this season's Upping The Ante as David Jennings and Johnny Dineen return with their thoughts on the opening Grade 1s of the year in Britain and Ireland.

The dynamic duo are also looking ahead to the racing at Kempton, Warwick and Fairyhouse this weekend and they share their weekly charity bets before finishing off with their all-important ante-post Cheltenham Festival selections.

Upping The Ante in association with bet365 will be uploaded every Tuesday at 6.00pm until the Cheltenham Festival and can be viewed on the link above, while we've picked out some of the best bits from episode 10 below.

Britain vs. Ireland battle stays the same

Amongst this week's 'Questions From The Crowd' for Johnny Dineen was a query on whether British form still needs to be 'taken with a pinch of salt' given the dominance of Irish horses at the Cheltenham Festival in recent times.

Johnny anticipates the status quo from last March will be upheld, but he's steering clear of any talk of a 'Greenwash' for the raiding party.

"I'd fancy the British horses will probably do a bit better this year," says Johnny. "I'd be going over 10 [winners at The Festival].

"If you look at the first day alone, you've Jonbon [in the Arkle], Constitution Hill [in the Champion Hurdle] and Marie's Rock and Love Envoi [in the Mares' Hurdle]. The Ultima is always won by an English horse – so that's four. They could be leading the Prestbury Cup going into the second day.

"I wouldn't think there'll be more British winners than Irish winners, but I'd say around the 10 mark again."

Paul Nicholls has enjoyed the last three Grade 1 winners in Britain since Boxing Day and the Ditcheat maestro wasn't shy in letting Johnny Dineen know when Tahmuras won the Tolworth last weekend that his opinion had been wide of the mark on that race.

The Upping The Ante pundit took that dig on the chin but is sticking to his guns regarding how Britain's champion trainer will fare come the Cotswolds in March.

"I'd still say it will be one winner or none at all – I don't think he'll get two anyway!" he quipped when challenged by co-host David Jennings.

Love is in the air for Johnny

Johnny Dineen's performance of the week saw a very honourable mention for Tolworth winner Tahmuras. However, he doesn't believe the Sandown hero is a major threat to Facile Vega in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle despite earning a quote of 10/1 for the Festival curtain-raiser.

The standout effort in the last seven days, though, was reserved for Harry Fry's mare Love Envoi, who dispatched her rivals impressively in Listed company earlier on the Sandown card.

Winner of the Dawn Run as a novice at Cheltenham last March, Love Envoi is now 4/1 to return on 14th March and win the Mares' Hurdle and Johnny was impressed with her.

"The ground was horrific but she glided over it, and her jumping was magnificent," he said of Love Envoi's Sandown success.

"I know she only beat Martello Sky, but you'd rarely see a horse win and finish so full of running like that. She was on the bridle coming to the last.

"I think the English horses have a stranglehold on the Mares' Hurdle."

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DJ Harbour's Lanzarote hopes

After admitting that last weekend's Charity Bets didn't muster much of a challenge, the Upping The Ante duo were ready to get back on track for this coming weekend.

David Jennings put up 14/1 chance Harbour Lake in the Lanzarote Hurdle at Kempton (2.40) on Saturday.

"It's too big of a price," said DJ. "I'll be shocked if it doesn't go off a single-figure price. Flat track, two-miles-five around Kempton – hopefully Tom Cannon gets him to settle in the early part of the race. I think he's unexposed and I think he's well handicapped."

Johnny, meanwhile, landed on Cayd Boy in the 2.12 at Fairyhouse on Saturday afternoon as his Charity Bet this week, ensuring the lads are in for a big half hour.

Big priced selections added to Festival portfolios

For this week's Cheltenham Festival ante-post selections, both pundits were happy to be taking selections at decent prices.

Johnny Dineen sides with 25/1 chance Amirite in the National Hunt Chase on 14th March.

"I just think this horse is improving, and improving markedly in my eyes anyway," says Johnny. "He's a strong, strong stayer and I'd say he would have no trouble getting an extreme distance. He's like a horse that could end up in an Irish Grand National."

David Jennings adds 16/1 Inothewayurthinkin for the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle on 17th March to his ante-post portfolio.

"I'm hoping I know the way Gavin Cromwell is thinking," says DJ. "I think he's a good novice, won his first two starts and did well to win at Cork.

"Apart from the front two in Sunday's [Grade 1] Lawlor's of Naas he was the one I took out of the race.

"I like the way he travelled through the race. He isn't going to win a Ballymore, he isn't going to win an Albert Bartlett. He has a touch of class and he should have no problems getting into this race off a mark in the 130s and it's a positive for me that he's had a run in graded company already."

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