Our resident tipster has a couple of fancies on day one of Newbury's Hennessy meeting.
There’s a cracking card at Newbury this afternoon – the start of the three-day Hennessy meeting – and the bet365-sponsored novice chase (2.10pm) in particular wouldn’t look out of place at any one of the major end-of-season festivals.
Four of the seven runners have won already over fences and the penalties they ha e picked might leave them vulnerable to the three unpenalised runners at the bottom of the card. Of these, Beast Of Burden is effectively a winner without a penalty as he looked certain to score at Chepstow last time before unseating his rider two from home. The problem I have with him, though, is that his stable is struggling for winners right now and the same can be said – though to a lesser extent – of David Pipe, who saddles Un Temps Pour Tout.
On the other hand, Dan Skelton continues in almost unstoppable form and his VALUE AT RISK looks the one to be on this afternoon, and not just because of trainer form. He reached a high level in bump and over hurdles, with the highlight in the latter sphere being his second in a Grade 2 at Cheltenham, before running a big race to finish fifth in the Albert Bartlett at the festival. But all that was a bonus as Skelton always considered him a future high-class, staying chaser, saying in his recent Stable Tour he ‘could be anything’, and the six-year-old can prove that today given his record fresh.
These days it’s far less if a worry if a horse is returning after a break as training techniques have improved and, indeed, first time out is often the best time to catch some horses. I’m hoping that is the case with the second bet, the Alan King-trained CHOSEN WELL, as the race he reappears in looks ultra competitive. The bet365 Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase (2.45pm) features a whole host of potentially well-handicapped novice chasers, which includes the selection of course
The winner of an Irish point-to-point, he won his first two hurdle starts last season, only for the wheels to come off in two subsequent runs. However, an excuse came to light and King, who has long considered him to be a stayer chaser in the making and had his wind ‘tidied up’ a few weeks ago, is hopeful that will allow him to finish off his races better. This is a stiff introduction for the six-year-old but the fact he’s running here rather than in a small novice somewhere is a tip in itself and the stable does have a 1-3 strike rate with chase debutants in handicaps since 2010, landing this very race 12 months ago with a similar type.