There’s a bonus on Friday – an extra Paddy power blog from me and four races to enjoy from Newbury on ITV4!
Let’s get straight to it, and the 13.50 is a 2m 4f handicap chase. Everything is right for class act KALASHNIKOV to gun them down here for Amy Murphy. He finished off last season in style, and returned in decent shape at Aintree in October. This trip is ideal.
Of the others, it’s hard to know what to get from Glen Forsa, who ended last season in terrible form having looked a star earlier on, while Azzerti is hard to predict. I would not be surprised if Oldgrangewood ran all right at a bigger price.
Next up is the 14.25 a Grade 2 novices’ chase over 2m 4f. I have a feeling Black Op would prefer further than this so it has to be CHAMP for the win.
He jumped really well on his return at this track and should take all the beating for Nicky Henderson. Black Op has drifted in prize in the last 24 hours, and if course he’s a class act although he disappointed in the Stayers’ Hurdle last season.
The Tom George team has been in decent enough form so if Champ flops then he should pick up the pieces.
There’s another Grade 2 at 15.00, a long distance hurdle over 3m. Boring again here I’m afraid as there is no doubt Stayers’ Hurdle hero PAISLEY PARK is the best horse in this field and even first time out this term he should be way too good for Emma Lavelle.
Thistlecrack was of course a class hurdler at his prime and has some very decent chase form recently. That said, he’s not getting any younger now and and it’s hard to believe he can be as good as he once was.
Finally ITV4 end their coverage with the 15.35 – a handicap hurdle over 3m. I’ll have a little bit each-way on SAMBURU SHUJAA. He was improving fast last season until only 12th in the Pertemps Final at Cheltenham but can get back to winning ways for the master trainer Philip Hobbs.
Hobbs also has Dolphin Square, and don’t be fooled by jockey bookings as his pilot David Maxwell also owns him! Dolphin Square scored nicely at Wincanton last time, and clearly has a chance, while the Nick Williams One for the Team is also not to be ignored after a seasonal debut at Worcester that was perfectly reasonable.
He’s very lightly raced and open to lots of improvement.
So best of luck and I’ll be back for Saturday’s preview later. You hear me Paddy?
*Prices and entries correct at publication