Our racing expert gives his verdict on the four Newbury races being shown live on ITV4, including the feature Challow Hurdle.
1:50 2m4½f (2m4f118y) Betfred Wishing You A Very Happy New Year Handicap Hurdle (Class 2) (4yo+)
The hat-trick seeking Huntsman Son has an 11lb rise to contend with and this is a more competitive race than he’s used to, so he’s worth taking on and Nicky Henderson’s BRAVE EAGLE looks the best alternative, with Paddy Power’s 4/1 looking fair value. The winner of both his starts over hurdles last season (both on soft) despite showing signs of immaturity, he looked ready for a step up to this sort of trip when finished second at Exeter (2m1f) on his reappearance and that run should have brought him on. He looks to be on a workable mark (131) with Nico de Boinville doing the steering.
Of the rest, Dynamite Dollars needs to settle better to fulfil his potential, while Diable De Sivola is consistent but has been beaten off today’s mark in his last three outings. Market support for either of the Alan King-trained runners, Sir Anthony Browne and Wilde Blue Yonder, would be significant as both are returning after long absences and ordinarily would need the run.
2:25 3m2f (3m1f214y) Betfred Mandarin Handicap Chase (Class 3) (4yo+ 0-135)
Knockanrawley is an out-and-out stayer as he showed when finishing second in last season’s Eider and he can be counted unlucky not to score at Ayr on his reappearance as he only failed by a short head after being forced to switch on the run-in. He looks sure to be on the premises again, but narrow preference is for DAKLONDIKE, who is four years his junior at five and is still improving. David Pipe’s charge has won two of his last three starts – he probably found the race coming too soon when beaten under a penalty at Chepstow in between – and his latest success at Wincanton, where he showed a good attitude and saw the 3m1f trip out strongly, was a career-best. He’s gone up another 7lb since but I fancy he can shrug that off and reward backers at Hills’ 9/2.
Wuff looks best of the remainder.
3:00 2m4½f (2m4f118y) Betfred Challow Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) (Class 1) (4yo+)
Kilbricken Storm relished the step up to 3m in a Grade 2 at Cheltenham last night time to make it three wins from his last four starts and his stamina will come in handy here, albeit he will need a strong pace. He’s not opposed lightly but three of his rivals have untapped potential and WAY BACK THEN, who was bought for £65,000 after finishing second on his only point start, looks the one to be on at Unibet’s 9/2. A winner of a Ludlow bumper last season before being put away, he had some promising sorts in behind when making a winning debut over hurdles at Kempton in November (third has won since to frank the form) and has been given a nice break since. His upwardly mobile trainer thinks a lot of him and wouldn’t be pitching him into Grade 1 company if he didn’t think he was up to the task.
The presence of dual winner Mulcahys Hill and Dame Rose, who was impressive when making all over 2m here last time, makes this a hot renewal.
3:35 2m6½f (2m6f93y) Betfred TV Limited Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase (Class 3) (4yo+)
Duke Des Champs has been shown some leniency by the handicapper and a big run wouldn’t surprise despite the fact he’s been off for 631 days. But all three of his rivals have been in good form this season and, of the trio, preference is for Tom George’s ROCKLANDER, who has installed as bet365’s 7/4 favourite. The lightly-raced eight-year-old started favourite for a Grade 2 novice chase at Doncaster two weeks ago, having hacked up on his chase debut at Ludlow previously, but he got no further than the first.
He has to be worth another chance in a race like this as Solighoster failed to build on his Ffos Las success when last of three at Market Rasen, while A Vos Gardes was beaten in a match at Wetherby following a long absence and is a candidate for the bounce factor.
All odds were correct at time of posting.