Our racing expert gives his verdict on the Newbury and Newcastle races being shown live on ITV this afternoon, including the feature Ladbrokes Trophy.
1:50 2m4½f (2m4f118y) Ladbrokes Handicap Hurdle (Class 2) (4yo+ 0-150)
Air Force One is entitled to come on for his reappearance fourth in a hot 2m handicap at Ascot (second has won since) and as he is better over this longer trip he’s entitled to favouritism. However, a subsequent 4lb rise leaves him with 11st 8lb to carry and he might prove vulnerable to the two last-time-out winners at the other end of the handicap, namely Master Dancer and Jabulani, and my idea of a value each-way bet in JALEO.
Ben Pauling’s charge has something to prove having taken crashing falls on two of his last three starts, but he’s a generally a good jumper, according to his trainer in a recent Stable Tour, and is also ‘much happier’ in himself this season. A three-time winner over hurdles, he’s just 4lb higher than for the last of those and he also benefits from his regular amateur rider’s 7lb claim, meaning he has just 10st 4lb to carry. But it’s his record fresh – he has won both starts after at least 199 days off the course – and the excellent form of his stable (7-19 in the last fortnight) that are the most compelling reasons for thinking he can outrun his bet365 price tag of 22/1.
2:20 2m½f (2m98y) Unibet Fighting Fifth Hurdle (Grade 1) (Class 1) (4yo+)
It’s hard to see past the reigning champion hurdler BUVEUR D’AIR, whose connections have long had this race in mind for his comeback. He is miles clear of his rivals on the ratings – he has 15lb in hand over the second top-rated Irving – and he probably wouldn’t need to be fully turned up to land a third successive Grade 1.
2:25 2m½f (2m69y) Ladbrokes Intermediate Hurdle (Limited Handicap) (Registered as Gerry Feilden Hurdle) (Listed Race) (Class 1) (4yo+ 0-155)
This is competitive with none of the seven runners easily discounted, but my idea of the winner is Ben Pauling’s HIGH BRIDGE. After winning his first three starts as a novice last season, including one over track and trip, he was probably given too positive a ride when finishing ninth in the Supreme at the Cheltenham Festival. He returned in an ultra competitive handicap at Ascot last month and ran a cracker to finish a close third less than a length behind the runner-up Limited Reserve, who boosted the form when winning at Haydock last weekend. On that evidence he can definitely have a say in some of the bigger handicaps this season and this race was mentioned as a target in a recent Stable Tour. With his yard firing on all cylinders – 7-19, 37%, in the last fortnight – and his usual amateur rider claiming a valuable 7lb off his back, he’ll do for me at Hills’ 4/1.
Nicky Henderson’s Charli Parcs is preferred in the betting and while he’s reportedly been schooling well ahead of his return to action and is highly regarded, he hasn’t yet justified that faith on the racecourse. Mount Mews was beaten for the third time at odds-on at Ayr last month, albeit he had no easy task giving lumps of weight to the front pair on testing ground, and a bigger threat may come from recent course and distance winner Poppy Kay.
3:00 3m2f (3m1f214y) Ladbrokes Trophy Chase (Handicap) (Grade 3) (Class 1) (4yo+)
A cracking renewal of the day’s feature race and after much deliberation I’ve come down in favour of SINGLEFARMPAYMENT, with an each-way interest on POTTERS LEGEND also advised for all the reasons found here.
3:20 2m7½f (2m7f91y) At The Races Rehearsal Handicap Chase (Listed Race) (Class 1) (4yo+)
Wakanda won this in 2015 and was fifth in a hot renewal last year off a 5lb higher mark than today’s, so he has to be considered and especially as he was a good second on his reappearance at Kelso. That gives him the edge in fitness over several of these including the forecast favourite Beware The Bear, who is probably the best long term prospect and I can’t remember his trainer Nicky Henderson having many runners in this race. He looks a Grand National candidate and that race is likely to be on the agenda for Bishops Road, who is on a good mark for his return if Kerry Lee has him straight enough after his layoff.
Sam Red is the youngest of the lot at six and he’s on an upward curve having won his last two starts at Stratford and Fakenham, albeit this is considerably tougher and the ground will be softer than he perhaps cares for. Boric is at the right end of the handicap and this out-and-out stayer could have a say, but I’m going to take a real flyer in suggesting a small each-way wager on DEDIGOUT.
He’s had his problems and may be in the wane at the age of 11, but he’s very well treated on the form he showed for Tony Martin in Ireland, where he won ten times, including four Grade 2s, with his young rider’s 5lb claim a bonus. He’s recently joined Micky Hammond and if the change of scenery has done him any good, it’s not hard to see him out running his Betway price tag of 33/1, with the stable form (7-32 in the last fortnight) providing further encouragement for that.
3:35 2m½f (2m92y) Ladbrokes Handicap Chase (for The Jim Joel Memorial Trophy) (Class 2) (4yo+ 0-150)
Baby King is up just 3lb for winning at Aintree three weeks ago, although the third Duke Of Navan is entitled to finish closer with that run under his belt. They are preferred to Harry Fry’s Overturn Express, who lacks a run and is probably best when the mud is flying. But at an each-way price I’m going to take a chance on Micky Hammond’s JUST CAMERON.
A classy sort who has run in Grade 1 contests behind the likes of Sprinter Sacre and Fox Norton, he has been shown a little respite from the handicapper and is running off the same mark as when winning at Wetherby in January. He’ll be all the sharper for his reappearance sixth at Kelso behind some decent sorts and his yard is in much better form now, with seven stablemates obliging in the last fortnight. Paddy Power go 12/1 and that looks good business with single-digit quotes available elsewhere.
Newbury 1.50, Jaleo each-way @ 22/1 bet365 (1/4 odds, 1.2.3)
Newcastle 2.10, Buveur D’Air @ 2/9 bet365
Newbury 2.25, High Bridge @ 4/1 Hills
Newbury 3.00, Singlefarmpayment @ 7/1 bet365 / Potters Legend each-way @ 33/1 Hills (1/5 odds, 18.104.22.168.5.6.7)
Newcastle 3.20, Dedigout each-way @ 40/1 bet365 (1/4 odds, 1.2.3)
Newbury 3.35, Just Cameron each-way @ 12/1 Paddy Power (1/5 odds, 1.2.3)
All odds were correct at time of posting.