There are Cheltenham Festival clues aplenty at Newbury on Saturday, but the Kingmaker Novices Chase at Warwick (2.40pm) can often produce a proper horse.
It’s been won by the likes of Long Run and Finian’s Rainbow since 2010 – and Harry Whittington will be hoping that Saint Calvados can extend his perfect record over fences. He’s the apple (brandy) of his trainer’s eye and there was plenty to like about the way he made mincemeat out of a competitive (though small field) handicap at Newbury last time.
He’s the one to beat here in receipt of weight from his three rivals, his bold jumping, front-running style likely to suit this track well.
Much like Pat Sharp in every episode of Fun House, the big handicap chase on the card at 3.15pm also features another superb jumper: Kylemore Lough (3/1). He was well backed for the BetVictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham on his return and was going well for a long way before a crunching mistake essentially ended his challenge.
He didn’t have much chance against Un de Sceaux in the Clarence House after that, and this is much more realistic – he should take plenty of beating here, the fragile Value At Risk looking more risky than value at short odds.
The other ITV race on Warwick’s card is the listed mares’ hurdle, taking place at 2.05pm. Having selected two shorties in the other races, it could be worth attacking something at a juicier price in this, with the rain forecast throughout the morning/early afternoon bad news for both the well-dressed ladies of Warwickshire and the standard-setting favourite Midnight Tour.
Throwing a couple of quid at both Mariah’s Legend and Woolstone One – who are both stepping up in grade here from the same Doncaster handicap – at big prices could be the way to go here.
Elsewhere on the card, the opener at 1.30pm looks a straightforward task for Rio Quinto, who is named after a river in Argentina rather than the footballer-cum-boxer.
The latter approach looks more prudent, the Harry Whittington-trained horse much more successful already than I’ll ever be. It could be a successful afternoon for one of the rising stars of the training ranks (Whittington, not me).
* All odds correct at time of posting.