The Cheltenham Festival may have come and gone but the Saturday National Hunt action keeps coming thick and fast. This weekend we have good jumps racing from both Newbury and Kelso. As per usual I will take a dive into the hot contests of the weekend and hopefully seek out a few to go well at nice prices.
The red-hot doctor can strike with his Angel in the Newbury curtain raiser
The opening race of the Newbury card is a Veterans’ Chase just shy of three miles. Valadom 8/1 looks likely to go well from the front once again, having found only Sir Ivan too good last time out. Both Psychedelic Rock 15/2 and Lord Scoundrel 10/1 come into this in good form having fought out a close finish at Doncaster three weeks ago. Dr Richard Newland is currently operating at a 38% strike rate so his string is in flying form. He saddles cosy Musselburgh winner, Dubai Angel 4/1 who won impressively last time out. Given his age, he may not be progressing, but he did look like a horse with plenty left in the tank and subsequently may be a tad better than his current mark of 130. Charlie Hammond takes off a useful 3lbs and the step up to three miles shouldn’t bring about any problems.
Good ball could be a good thing for Nicholls and Cobden
Next up on the card we have a tidy looking 2 mile and 2-furlong Novices Handicap Hurdle. Good Ball 9/4 heads the betting for Nicholls and Cobden and I quite like his claims. He ran a very good race at the track on his last start when to my eye was outbattled by Gowel Road from the Twiston-Davies yard. Good Ball travelled into the contest like a very good horse and appeared to be going easily when cruising into a narrow lead three from home. I think Cobden probably made his move too early and inexperience cost Good Ball in the battle up the straight. He is entitled to improve plenty for that experience and the extra 2 furlongs can bring about more improvement. His previous form looks extremely solid having beaten the likes of Supreme Novice Hurdle sixth, Grumpy Charlie and on his French start, finishing just behind the impressive Teahupoo. Hooper 13/2 may well be a progressive horse, but he does have plenty to prove on Official Ratings. Hudson De Grugy 4/1 has slaughtered much lesser opposition on his last two starts and could be a danger if stepping up to this class. He will need to prove his efficiency on the ground, and I believe the main danger may be Mount Windsor 8/1 who comes here looking to land a five timer. Carrying top weight, he’ll have to improve again but Fergus Gillard takes off a handy 5lbs and he could be dangerous from the front. He does have a tendency to jump slightly out to his right though and as a result I will stick with Good Ball who looks progressive for team Nicholls.
Last week we had Honeysuckle, this week we have Hunny Moon
The mares get a chance to shine next on the card at Newbury in the two- and half-mile Grade 2 Mares Novice hurdle. Rose Of Arcadia 4/1 heads the betting for powerful owners Cheveley Park Stud but her trainer Collin Tizzard has had a tough time of things this season and despite having a few more winners since the turn of the year, he is currently operating at a 6% strike rate. His horses did run well at Cheltenham last week though and this mare has always had a big reputation. I do worry about the quicker surface for her as she has appeared a better mare on very soft ground. Conditions are expected to be on the quick side, and I believe she is worth taking on at the prices. Fergal O’Brien is another trainer who hasn’t been in flying form of late, but I was really impressed with his filly, Hunny Moon 14/1, when she absolutely bolted up on her last start. Starting the season in a mare’s bumper, she finished third to subsequent Champion Bumper third Elle Est Belle. Three runner up efforts over hurdles followed but last time out she looked a different filly. She absolutely bolted up, potentially relishing the better ground conditions and jumped far better than in previous starts. Highlighted as one to watch coming into the season by Fergal himself, Hunny Moon looks progressive and now running on a sounder surface for a second time, she is entitled to plenty of improvement.
Espoir De Teillee worth chancing in trappy Handicap Chase
Just the 6 runners go to post for the Bet Victor Handicap Chase over two and a half miles, but it looks a competitive little affair. Top weight Grand Sancy brings plenty of class to this but his last two chase starts wouldn’t fill you with confidence. He should love the ground and the smaller field will suit but he is prone to occasional blunder in the jumping department and as a result may be worth taking on. Mr Muldoon 4/1 looks likely to give his running and Kalooki 3/1 brings some good form to the table but I believe it may be worth siding with Espoir De Teillee 9/2 who caused a major shock last time out when beating Espoir De Guye at odds of 25/1. A lightly raced nine-year-old, he’s clearly a talented horse on his day, having fallen in a Point to Point when getting the better of the now 164 rated Secret Investor. The wind op prior to his last start has seemingly done the trick and Tom George has been in fine form over the last week or so.
Can Jonbon do his big brother proud in exciting Newbury Bumper
All eyes will no doubt be on Newbury at 5:45 when Douvan’s full brother Jonbon 8/11 makes his much-anticipated debut for McManus and Henderson. Bought for £570,000 and being related to one of the best 2-mile chasers in recent times, Jonbon will need to put up some performance to impress. The early signs are that he possesses plenty of ability after an effortless Point to Point win and he’ll need to be good here to beat the Paul Nicholls trained, Petrossian 5/2 who absolutely bolted up on his first bumper start over course and distance. The form of that bumper win has taken a few knocks, with both the second and third being well beaten since but Petrossian couldn’t have won an easier. Should Jonbon beat him, and beat him comfortably, we are probably looking at a very useful horse!
Cap Du Nord the pick at Kelso
Over to Kelso now and the first race I will look at is the 2:05, a handicap hurdle over 3 miles and 1 furlong. A competitive field of 12 go to post and the one who made the most appeal to me was Cap Du Nord 4/1 who reverts to hurdles after a fine time of things of fences this season. His form figures read 41235 and it may be that the handicapper has just caught up with now over the larger obstacles. He reverts to hurdles off a 5lb lower mark and Jack Tudor takes a further 3lbs off to ensure he runs off 8lb lower than his chase mark. The ground and trip should be right up his street and given this season’s exertions haven’t taken their toll, I think he can be very competitive.
Elsewhere on the card at Kelso, I thought Christopher Wood 13/2 could go well in the 2:40. Angus Cheleda takes off a crucial 7lbs bringing him back down to below his last winning mark. He will still have to concede plenty of weight all round but with ground conditions to suit he can hopefully get his head back in front.
By Sam Rideout
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