What a week of racing it has been and a mighty week for this column with Clan des Obeaux hacking up in the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.
Yeeehaaa with bells on.
As we all know you are only as good as your last winner, and Saturday the ITV cameras are off to Newbury, Lingfield and Leicester with seven races to enjoy.
Let’s get straight to it, and the 13.50 at Newbury is a handicap hurdle over an extended 2m 4f. The improver here is SEVARANO, trained by the classy Oliver Sherwood.
My selection has won his last two starts, including at this track last time, and is held in very high regard. He may well be able to cope with a 4lb rise for his last success.
Next up is the 14.25 at Newbury, a handicap chase over 3m 2f.
BOUGHTBEFORELUNCH is creeping up the weights while not winning, which is never a good sign. That said, the Paul Webber challenger is in fine form and should be bang there over a distance which should be no problem.
The 15.00 at Newbury is the Grade 1 Challow Hurdle over an extended 2m 4f for novices.
Hard to oppose THYME HILL, who is my nap of the day.
He was a top-class bumper horse for Philip Hobbs, finishing third in the Champion bumper at the Cheltenham Festival. Since going hurdling he has shown toughness and ability in wins at Chepstow and Cheltenham. He just looks super good for the master trainer and champion jock Richard Johnson.
And finally at Newbury the 3.35pm is a handicap chase over an extended 2m 6f. A tough heat with all sorts of improvers lurking. COMMODORE BARRY ran out last time which is hardly a good sign, but he might be worth chancing.
The Kim Bailey-trained runner stays very strong and prior to that mishap was in great form. Fingers crossed he stays on track.
Meanwhile, over at Lingfield, ITV show the handicap over 1m 4f at 2.10pm. PIRATE KING is the each-way choice here for Charlie Fellowes. He stays this trip very well, and while his last couple of runs have hardly set the world alight he has a good draw to work from here and is an each-way shout.
And finally, ITV have two races at Leicester to show including the 14.40, a handicap chase over 2m 4f. A hard race to call.
The one who might have a little improvement is BELARGUS, who has dropped down the weights in recent times from a mark of 127 to 121. Will Kennedy is a good booking and hopefully the Nick Gifford runner is able to do a bit better.
Also beamed live from Leicester is the 15.15, a handicap hurdle over nearly 2m. Hard to know if BALL D’ARC has any ability left, but he was once rated 158 and is now down to 132, so at some stage there might be a revival.
Hopefully this is it for Peter Winks and Alison Clarke who takes off 7lb.
I’ll be back for New Year’s Eve and our firs race day of 2020 at Cheltenham.
*Prices and entries correct at time of publishing