It’s Betfair Hurdle day at Newbury and I have fond memories having won the feature race three times for my old boss Nicky Henderson.
We’ve also got action for you on ITV racing from Warwick and that chase track puts a real premium on fast, accurate, jumping. We’ll be looking for that in our selections.
One for the Team has been running consistently, but is creeping up the weights and that won’t help in the opening 3m handicap hurdle at 13.50. This looks a really good opportunity to get his head in front though and with Chester Williams taking 5lbs off – he has to be respected. It would be dangerous to ignore Vive Le Roi as he is a course and distance winner and if he gets loose up front could be a very good each-way bet.
The 2m Grade 2 Chase at 14.25 sees the return of King Altior! The drying ground will be music to the ears of his supporters as the last time we saw a mind-blowing performance from him was on decent ground at Kempton in December 2018.
I am hoping we get more of the same on Saturday after his defeat at Ascot last time. Kalashnikov is an interesting runner with cheek-pieces on for the first time and it’s good to see Dynamite Dollars back in action.
I just want to see Altior blow the opposition away and lay down a marker for the Cheltenham Festival next month.
The Denman Chase at 15.00 sees Might Bite and Native River clash again and they served us up a cracker when they collided in the 2018 Gold Cup. The blinkers seemed to have the desired affect on Native River last time and he will come into consideration for the Gold Cup again if we get a soft-ground Cheltenham.
A Toi Phil could be the surprise package for the forecast as he will he ridden to nick some place money.
The Betfair Handicap Hurdle at 15.35 and Paddy’s paying the first 6 home in this ultra-competitive hurdle.
The last two winners have been novices, both rated 141 and those stats set the tone in identifying the winner’s profle.
Thebannerkingrebel has won a Listed Novice Hurdle and been placed in a Grade 2 contest. He does make the odd howler over the obstacles and that proved costly at Haydock.
Not So Sleepy is another that could be anything, but is he a better horse on very soft ground, when the others are struggling to keep tabs on him as he blazes away in front.
He has gone up 22lb for his last two wins at Ascot, but would have won both races carrying 32lbs more! If he doesn’t get it all his own way up front that could upset him.
Market leader Mack The Man did well at Sandown and is the choice of Evan Williams’ stable jockey Adam Wedge. Never Adapt looks a real handful but there is no doubting her talent as she showed at Kempton.
I’ll put up these four to finish in this order: 1. Bannerkingrebel, 2. Not So Sleepy, 3. Harambe and 4. Never Adapt.
Warwick’s Grade 2 Chase at 14.05 is about accurate jumping and you will not get many faster or more accurate fencers than Nube Negra. He faded close home at Sandown with the stiff finish not suiting him, but the guaranteed pace in this race will.
The opposition is headed by Rouge Vif who was a good second at Kempton last time in the Wayward Lad Chase and is the value bet against the favourite.
The 2m 5f mares handicap hurdle at 14.40 has Paul Webber’s Indefatigable as favourite and some of her recent form is strong. Her second to Lady Buttons at Wetherby is a standout line of form.
However, her trainer has gone 64 days and 27 runners without a winner and that is a concern. If you don’t fancy backing her Copper Gone West ran a hell of a race at Sandown and she could be a good alternative at a fair price.
Course specialist Generous Day is a pretty big price in the 2m 4f handicap chase at 15.15 as jumping around this track counts for so much and has to worthy of each-way support. He disappointed on his last run but it may have come too quick after his Kempton victory.
Of the others, Two Taffs looks the one to beat but at the prices I’m as happy to have Generous Day each-way as the selection.