Our resident tipster has run the rule over Friday's card at Newbury.
Friday’s offering at Newbury is just about the most perfect jumps card you will see at around this time of year – and it’s chock-full of betting opportunities.
So, instead of putting up the usual two or three to back on here, I’m going to have a crack at each of the seven races, starting with the opening juvenile hurdle (12.25pm) which features a whole host of promising horses from the big stables.
I see that Paul Nicholls’ Copain De Classe is forecast to go off favourite, but his price is no doubt heavily influenced by his powerful connections and he could be one to take on. He’s clearly talented and won his only bumper start at Vichy in France, before joining Nicholls. However, the trainer describes him as a “big chasing sort, not a Triumph Hurdle type in any shape or form”, and he might be vulnerable first time out over the minimum trip.
Dan Skelton can do little wrong right now and he saddles an interesting type in KASAKH NOIR, who is also a recruit from French bumpers. He won on his second start in that sphere, quickening up nicely to score by eight lengths, and there is enough flat speed in his pedigree – his dam is by Singspiel – to suggest he can be effective at this trip. He’s likely been aimed at this meeting and with his stable going great guns, he could represent some value.
The majority of the runners in the conditional jockeys’ handicap chase (12.55pm) are exposed and, while some appear well-handicapped (Drumshambo in particular), they have something to prove. Let’s take a punt then on the five-year-old COLIN’S BROTHER, who shaped with considerable promise when finishing second on last month’s chase debut at Stratford. With that run under his belt and with Ryan Hatch – one of the best conditionals riding – booked he can go one better.
The potential fly in the ointment is Paul Nicholls Mon Successeur who has his best days ahead of him at the age of four but, based on his trainer’s comments in a recent Stable Tour, he may be best going right-handed.
The Pertemps Qualifier over three miles (1.30pm) has endless possibilities and it’s debatable whether some in the field will be at their very best – horses only need to finish in the first eight to qualify for the Cheltenham Festival final. But I’d be surprised if MISSED APPROACH wasn’t ready do himself justice on his seasonal reappearance given his trainer Warren Greatrex likes to target this meeting.
The five-year-old won his only start in an Irish point-to-point and his first two hurdle starts for his current trainer, before finishing third behind a good sort in Three Musketeers when last seen out last December, a time when the stable wasn’t firing. Greatrex, who has been in excellent form of late, said in a Stable Tour that he thought the horse was handicapped on ‘the right side’ and was expecting improvement from him when stepped up to 3m. He was amongst those horses the trainer galloped at the track last week, along with stable star Cole Harden, so it’s worth taking a chance on his fitness, though Thursday’s winner Unowhatimeanharry would be greatly respected if making a quick reappearance.
The aforementioned Three Musketeers runs in the 2m3f novices’ chase (2.05pm) and he’s not without a chance having run a respectable third behind the reopposing Sametegal on his chasing debut at Huntingdon. However, both those horses are priced accordingly and the value may lie with MAXIMISER, who hails from the small Yorkshire stable of Simon West which helps his price enormously.
The seven-year-old has the form in the book too as, having won both his hurdle starts last season by a combined total of 47 lengths, he made Silsol pull out all the stops on his recent chase debut at Carlisle, going down by a mere half a length. The winner franked the form when following up at Haydock last week and the selection, who jumped superbly at the Cumbrian track, can be expected to come on for that run.
The 2m3f handicap chase (2.40pm) looks devilishly hard and I’m again sourcing a recent Stable Tour to get an angle in, after Tom George made ROC D’APSIS his ‘dark horse’ for this season. The six-year-old, a dual winner in the French provinces at three, had been mixing hurdling and chasing without much success – his sole win came in a handicap chase at Southwell – but everything came right for him at Stratford first time out, and his trainer believes he can go on progressing and win a ‘nice race’ this season. He’s certainly still at the right end of the handicap.
I had David Pipe’s Champers On Ice down as one of my horses to follow this season, so it was disappointing to see him well beaten at Cheltenham on his reappearance. The stable runners generally struggled at that meeting so his distant second to runaway winner Shantou Village can be upgraded and this afternoon’s 2m4f novices hurdle (3.15pm) looks an easier assignment.
However, with the stable still not firing on all cylinders, I’m going to take him on with Ben Pauling’s BALLYHENRY. The winner of both his starts in bumpers last season, he has reportedly schooled very well over hurdles at home and is considered the stable’s brightest prospect for novice hurdles this term. Pauling, who is in only his third season of training, is quickly making a name for himself and his runners have been tremendous form of late. All of which points to a big run from the selection and he may well be able to floor the Pipe-trained favourite.
The closing “national hunt” maiden hurdle (3.45pm) sees the reappearance of Philip Hobbs’ exciting hurdles newcomer WAIT FOR ME and as I expect he’ll be straight enough on his return to beat 17 rivals, though he’s not really a betting proposition for me at the sponsors’ 7/4.
12.25: Kasakh Noir @ 7/1 BetVictor
12.55: Colin’s Brother @ 13/2 bet365
1.30: Missed Approach each-way @ 8/1 bet365
2.05: Maximiser @ 9/2 bet365
2.40: Roc D’Apsis each-way @ 12/1 bet365
3.15: Ballyhenry @ 6/1 bet365
3.45: Wait For Me @ 7/4 bet365