Our racing expert marks your card for Wednesday's jumps action at Newbury.
Nicky Henderson is firing on all cylinders with a treble on Saturday making it 11 winners from 27 runners (41%) in the last fortnight, and he has double prospects at Newbury this afternoon.
The Berkshire venue has been kind to the Upper Lambourn-based trainer over the past five seasons with 1-3 (33-105) of his runners over hurdles obliging over the past five seasons. Clearly he likes to run his best hurdlers here and it’s a couple of his novices that catch the eye as potential bets, but not in the way the market is predicting.
His Ok Corral will be all the rage for the 2m novices’ hurdle as he was a wide-margin winner on his hurdles debut back in May, but I’m not sure he should be odds-on given that he comes with issues, having been limited to just one run since April 2015, and is conceding 8lb to stablemate WHATSWRONGWITHYOU, who has already had a run this term. It was a highly promising one at that as he only found Ainchea a length too good at Sandown on his reappearance, having travelled strongly throughout and been upsides the winner at the last, before tiring in the closing stages when his lack of race fitness began to tell.
The form of that contest looks strong as the winner has since finished a close second in a Listed race at Cheltenham, while the third, Just A Sting, who was eight lengths adrift, is highly regarded by Harry Fry. Furthermore, the selection should be all the better for that experience and while he could do with settling a bit better, he has a hood on to help him in that respect. Nico de Boinville will also be doing his best to anchor him in the early part of the race, with such tactics working a treat on the gelding when he won a Ludlow bumper back in March, and it’s not hard to see the partnership coming with a powerful late run to land the spoils.
Henderson has plenty of smart mares housed at Seven Barrows and it would be no surprise to see KUPATANA take high rank amongst them before this season is out, beginning with success in this afternoon’s “national hunt” novices” hurdle against her own sex. We have very limited form to base that assessment on, admittedly, as she’s had just the one start, that coming in an Irish point-to-point last March. But she could not have won that assignment more easily and her current connections were impressed enough to fork out £120,000 at the following month’s sales, before putting her away for the summer.
According to Henderson, who was writing in a Stable Tour back in the autumn, she absolutely thrived for her break and indeed probably a bit too well as ‘she came back into training weighing over 608 kilos’. It’s probably taken until quite recently to get that extra weight off and while she is going to be better for her racecourse debut, she seems to be the stable first string with Nico De Boinville riding her over stablemate Loveherandleaveher. With the latter easy to back, the market on this occasion could prove spot on and it will be disappointing if she can’t make a winning start under Rules.
All odds were correct at time of posting.