A bonanza of racing for you on ITV this Saturday with action from Newbury and Newcastle where the reigning champion hurdler Epatante returns to action in the Fighting Fifth hurdle.
A trappy little contest to kick things off and the ground could have the biggest say in what happens. Tea Clipper’s winning margin at Chepstow does not do justice to the superiority he had over his rivals and he sets a really good standard. Champagne Platinum had an unsuccessful campaign over fences last season but was a very good winner at Newbury in December 2019. His handicap mark over hurdles looks one that has scope for improvement.
I am a huge fan of Marie’s Rock and thought she had a great chance in the mares’ race at the Cheltenham Festival last March. She could still be very well handicapped off her mark of 141, but her jumping is not as good as it could be. The likely quicker ground brings Milkwood into it – he is the danger and an each-way play at the prices could be the answer if you don’t like short-priced favs. Personally, Marie’s Rock & Milkwood in a forecast may be the play.
The feature race of the day and week three of Paddy Power’s Millionaire Chase qualifier lacks a typical, young improver from last season. Before we’ve had the winners of the Grade One RSA Chase at Cheltenham tackling this, but we don’t have that type in here other than Copperhead, who was so disappointing over hurdles on his seasonal debut that it puts me off a little.
The talking horse is Vinndication and I have no doubt if Newbury was a right-handed track he would be a good thing. Running left-handed though is a huge disadvantage to him and his run in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby (when second to Cyrname) is by far and away the best in this contest.
Secret Investor won very nicely at Chepstow and will love the ground, he is an interesting each-way as is Two For Gold. Kildisart and The Conditional finished in front of Vinndication at Cheltenham but Kim Bailey’s runner is better off at the weights. Kildisart has had a prep run which could prove crucial to his chances over The Conditional’s who had prep runs and was fitter last year when finishing second to De Rasher Counter.
However, I’ll side with The Conditional as his trainer is very good at getting them ready first time up.
Ibleo is a good horse who was unlucky last time as he got mugged late on at Ascot when finishing second to Amoola Gold. He may well be better on softer ground though, so I’ll go for Moonlighter to gain compensation for his mugging at Exeter when chinned on the line.
The Fighting Fifth has been a good hunting ground for Nicky Henderson and owner JP McManus over the years. They run the reigning champion hurdler Epatante who is a worthy favourite and had a recent racecourse gallop at Newbury, so is ready for this.
The better ground brings a few of the others into it and both Silver Streak and Sceau Royal have both got their optimum conditions. If they are to beat Epatante this will be there chance. There’s only seven declared so that decimates the each-way options but Silver Streak can be the one to chase Epatante.
The Rehearsal Chase brings the curtain down on ITV Racing’s and it’s a competitive 3m Chase with six of the 10 runners likely to be single-digit odds. Pym will love the ground and the track and this smaller field will suit too. Whatmore was a little unlucky last time on his Ascot reappearance and rates the biggest danger.
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