Matt Chapman: I’m counting on Little Jon at Newbury to maker us merry men this weekend

It's a super Saturday smash-up of racing action 10 days out from the Cheltenham Festival

Cheltenham is so close I’m becoming a pumped-up mess, so a few extra quid wouldn’t go amiss. Let’s see if we can smash Paddy this weekend like last year at the Festival. Hear me Paddy?

Incidentally, I’ll be chatting in the Paddy Power shops on Wednesday, March 9, and we’ll have few surprises ahead on social media, as you would expect!

I want to start at Newbury this weekend as I like ROCK GONE in the handicap hurdle over an extended 2m4f (1.45pm).

He’s lightly raced, stays strong and loves testing ground. There’s plenty out of form here but he’s improving for the former Grand National winning trainer Dr Richard Newland.




The 2.15pm at the same track is a veterans handicap chase over 3m 2f. PETE THE FEAT is just about well enough handicapped to give a shout to here, and ran well last time at Sandown. If he gets into a good rhythm up front he could be hard to catch.

Newbury then hosts an extended 2m handicap hurdle (2.50pm)  and in a tricky heat have a few quid on SAINT CHARLES.

Course and distance winner

He last ran this time last year and was beaten under four lengths by World Hurdle fav Thistlecrack. While he’s clearly flattered by that form, he could be a blot on the handicap for Nicky Henderson and JP McManus and wears a hood on his comeback.

Finally at Newbury, I’ve taken a look at the Greatwood Gold Cup handicap chase at 3.25pm. I like LITTLE JON , who has been absolutely shocking in two recent runs at Cheltenham for Nigel Twiston-Davies but was a good winner at this track before that. He likes Newbury adn while it’s a bit of a lotterly – will get a decent price.


The ground at Doncaster will be much more testing than people originally thought so I think MOUNTAIN KING might go close for the master trainer Philip Hobbs and champion elect Richard Johnson. He was second to Mon Successeur at Ascot two starts back and a repeat of that form here could be enough.

WHATANIGHT went up 11lb despite being beaten last time, but he’s lightly-raced and open to lots of improvement for Harry Fry. So fingers crossed for him in the 3m handicap hurdle (2.35pm).

I’m all over the Dan Skelton trained YES I DID, in the Listed Mares Hurdle (3.10pm) who proved her stamina at Catterick last time. She’s getting better with each of her seven runs.

The big betting race at Doncasteris the Grimthorpe Chase over an extended 3m 2f at 3.45pm.

It’s a tough event and with the ground getting softer, SEGO SUCCESS could be the answer. He was unlucky when falling early at Warwick last time, is a dour stayer, and might just see this trip out better in the conditions better than the ultra-consistent The Last Samuri who is returning from a break.

It’s looks a tough Saturday of handicaps – but I’m up for it. Let’s hope for some Yeeehaaas!

What do you think?