The ITV cameras are at Kelso and Newbury this weekend and we are hosting from the borders on our annual trip to the track that has a real strong local following.
It’s disappointing that we have a small field of just four runner for this mares race but I like I favour Kalahari Queen over Kupatana. Jamie Snowden’s runner is definitely the safer option as Kupatana is a little bit of a handful and not the easiest of rides. Kalahari Queen won nicely at Wetherby and the time before that put up a good performance in defeat at Exeter to Dalila Du Seuil.
Winston C is favourite here on the back of a good win at Sandown last time. He was a smart Flat horse for Michael Bell before joining Harry Fry and has taken well to hurdling. He will like this track and I can see Sean Bowen riding him very confidently and trying to pounce late up the run in. The one I worry about upsetting favourite backers though is the Sue Smith-trained Joke Dancer. He was a tidy winner at Newcastle after wind surgery and I can see some more improvement coming from the six-year-old. Saint Leo is one to keep an eye on. He was very smart in France and has just been a bit clumsy over his fences since arriving in the UK. He’s back over hurdles for this but should be followed when he reverts to chasing too.
Blue Flight won a Listed chase last time at this track beating Black Corton. The handicapper has had his say and put him up 14lbs. That seems very harsh but Captain Redbeard was close behind that day too, so the assessor will feel justified in awarding this new mark. I loved the way Blue Flight went through the race, making it hard to knock the form. I still think he can win this, as he is only a six-year-old and may still be getting better. Gold Opera could be the one for the each-way money as he’s looked like he’s wanted a step up in trip like he gets now.
This is a decent handicap with Paul Nicholls using Lorcan Williams to claim off Worthy Farm. I like Burrows Park though at a price though. He ran in the Martin Pipe conditionals race at Cheltenham last week, but didn’t have the smoothest of passages in that race which usually throws up plenty of future winners. Burrows Park won a couple of races earlier this season and was a good third at Haydock.
He gets the nod.
Newbury sees the end of an era as Noel Fehily hangs up his boots. He is. A brilliant rider who will be missed. He had a lovely way of riding, a quiet style that smuggled horses into races. He has won a host of big races in an illustrious career so best of luck to him in his retirement.
I like last season’s Scottish Grand National winner Joe Farrell to get back in the winning groove in this 3m 2f handicap chase. He’s only 5lb higher than his victory at Ayr and his comeback run three weeks ago should have blown the cobwebs away and he will like the ease in the ground. Classic Ben is a worthy favourite on the back of a good win last time.
Elysees carries top weight but it is hard to ignore his claims. He put up likeable performances in winning at Ludlow and Warwick and his second at Doncaster to Quel Destin reads well also after he finished fifth in the Triumph Hurdle. Friend Or Foe is hard to get a handle on as his win at Taunton looked good, but hasn’t run since December. Keep an eye on a strong market move for him.
Oscar Rose is closely matched with the favourite The White Mouse on their Doncaster running, but is twice the price. I coach her jockey Connor Brace and I think he is good value for his 7lb claim. Oscar Rose will do for me.
*Prices correct at time of publishing.