What a super Saturday it will be at Newbury, with Altior drawing the crowds for his appearance in the Game Spirit Chase, followed by Native River and Might Bite in the Denman Chase and one of the difficult betting heats of the season with a full field of 24 in the Betfair Handicap Hurdle.
At Warwick, it is Kingmaker Day, which with their Classic Chase in January are their two super Saturdays. A good card ahead as ever with the Grade 2 Kingmaker Novice Chase, a Listed Mares’ Hurdle and strong handicaps too. There is always plenty going on at Warwick between races and the team at the course do a great job of making ideas happen. I’m a big fan of Warwick and well done to all the team, headed up by Andre Klein General Manager for The Jockey Club and Ryan Bronger General Manager for Jockey Club Catering.
Look out for Tommy’s tips too.
1.15 Newbury – Novices’ Hurdle 2m ½f
Tremwedge went into plenty of notebooks after his third to Cerberus and A Wave Of The Sea at Fairyhouse in December, form that’s been well franked since but has since changed yards and now finds himself in the care of Alan King. Interesting that he goes for a novice rather than a juvenile race with him, as his target is surely either the JCB Triumph Hurdle or the Boodles Fred Winter Juvenile Hurdle. A very interesting contender.
Unibet 9/1 each-way
2.05 Warwick – Agetur Kingmaker Grade 2 Novice Chase 2m
Nube Negra trained by Dan Skelton is a horse I have followed since his juvenile days when third in the Boodles Fred Winter Juvenile Hurdle in 2018. He was favourite that day and has always indicated that he would be a horse to watch, with his switch to chasing this season paying dividends.
Nube Negra has won here at Warwick, ahead of following up at Fakenham before stepping up to Grade 1 company in the Henry V111 at Sandown when second to Esprit Du Large in December. On that occasion the ground was soft, and today’s conditions will suit more, whilst returning to a left-handed course may suit.
Dan Skelton’s charge has the best form in the race and his jumping will see off the others.
Unibet 6/5 win
3.15 Warwick Castle Handicap Steeple Chase 2m 4f
Most of these are right at the top end of their marks with no wriggle room, but Two Taffs is now just a pound higher than when taking a Listed chase at Ayr two years ago. Since then he’s only been seen out three times, and whilst neither of his starts this season have been under his ideal conditions he did run well for a long way over a longer trip before fading behind De Rocher Counter in the big chase feature at Newbury in November. Today, conditions look sure to suit and with fitness not an issue from Dan Skelton’s yard, Two Taffs can strike here.
Unibet 5/2 win
Newbury – 3.35 Betfair Handicap Hurdle 2m
Stolen Silver for Nigel Twiston-Davies will make a good chaser next year, however in the meantime you couldn’t fail to be impressed with his attitude in the finish when coming with a very late charge at Haydock to win the Grade 2 Rossington Main last month on heavy ground. Stolen Silver will face better ground here, but this will be fast-run and that will help counteract that. Bottom line, young improving horse with a lot going for him.
Unibet 16/1 each-way
Novices have a great record in this contest in the last decade, with Ecco for Paul Nicholls looking a good each-way shout. He is not been overburdened with a rating of 138 on his first handicap and is the type to appreciate a fast-run big-field handicap on drying ground, as he doesn’t always find much off the bridle. Following two wins and a third he was giving 8lb to the winner Fred (who has gone in again) at Kempton on Boxing Day and possibly found the ground a bit against him there.
Unibet 25/1 each-w
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