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JP McManus runs all his horses in this in the colours of Sir Peter O’Sullevan and I was lucky enough to win this for him in 1997 wearing the same colours on Sounds Fyne, so this race holds great memories for me.
Dame De Compagnie is smart and won at the Cheltenham Festival in 2020 over hurdles off a 5lbs higher mark, she is worthy of interest here. However, the one I have gone for is KILLER CLOWN. This track is tailor-made for him and Emma Lavelle’s charge has cheekpieces on too. He has a good blowout at Aintree last month to shake the cobwebs away for this race.
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CH’TIBELLO hasn’t run for 250 days, but Dan Skelton worked his magic on West Cork in the Greatwood Handicap Hurdle. Ch’tibello has now slipped down to a mark only a pound higher than he won the 2019 County Hurdle off at Cheltenham and could take advantage of that here. Masters Legacy is the other one of interest over this slightly further trip.
I know this is a slightly strange selection, as NUTS WELL has never been this far in terms of trip. However, a relative of his won over this trip and I feel this horse’s class will tell for Ann Hamilton here. He is a standout value play in this race and I’m not turning up my nose at that.
Soaring Glory is the class act in this race and he is by far the best of these, but Jonjo O’Neill’s charge is not straight forward. He loves a big field where they go fast and he only has three other runners in this with him, so that’s far from ideal. CAPTAIN MORGS has pace and if it turns farcical, with only 10st 6lbs on his back, he could be a springer for Nicky Henderson.
I can’t get away from last year’s novices, so I am drawn to Fiddlerontheroof, EKLAT DE RIRE, Remastered and Demachine. Eklat De Rire won his race at Wexford (which was the same race Minella Indo won) in good style and this contest has been the plan for a while. Henry De Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore are a great team and they unite against here. Eklat De Rire blotted the copybook at Cheltenham in March when he unseated his rider behind Monkfish, but he had jumped really well up to that point and is normally pretty solid.
Fiddlerontheroof bounced back to form with a really good win at Carlisle and the form has had a boost since. He was also a very good second to Monkfish at the festival. The Colin Tizzard team are in good form and his stable is operating on a much better strike rate this season.
Remastered won the Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase by beating Demachine and had a lovely pipe opener at Aintree three weeks over hurdles. Willie Mullins took his time winning, but Ontheropes has sound claims on form having been behind Monkfish at Fairyhouse last year. Cloth Cap had a lovely prep at Cheltenham and if ground doesn’t get too slow, he will run another solid race. However, I can’t help but feel all the momentum is with the Irish, and that’s why Eklat De Rire gets the nod over Fiddlerontheroof.
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Hard to look past EPATANTE in the Betfair Fighting Fifth Hurdle, especially as she gets the mares and fillies allowance from Monmiral. The gelding is a smart horse and the trainer Paul Nicholls feels he has thrived this summer. However, it is still hard for a four-year-old to bridge the gap to Epatante with the allowance and that just swings it for the Nicky Henderson-trained mare.
GREY DIAMOND ran a great race for Sam Thomas in his seasonal reappearance at Ascot last month and that form has been boosted since. The gelding has been surprising dropped by a pound in the ratings for that run and has Sam Twiston-Davies in the saddle, which is always a plus.
13:15 Newbury – Killer Clown
13:50 Newbury – Ch’tibello (Each-Way)
14:05 Newcastle – Nuts Well (Each-Way)
14:25 Newbury – Captain Morgs
15:00 Newbury – Eklat De Rire
15:15 Newcastle – Epatante
15:35 Newbury – Grey Diamond
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