There is plenty of racing on tomorrow as long as the weather doesn’t intervene. Now that I am on the crematorium side of 60 perhaps my tipping skills will improve!
Starting with Newbury the card gets under way with the “Greyhounds make great pets novices’ hurdle” at 12.25. Sereth is one to look out for in this. He was a decent horse on the flat in Germany where he won at listed level and he was more recently 3rd to Darley Sun in the Cesarewitch. He made a pleasing start to his hurdles career when winning at Huntingdon and looks an interesting prospect. The other one I will put forward is Finian’s Rainbow. He was unlucky tot to win a point to point at Inch when falling at the last with the race at his mercy and he started his career under rules by winning a bumper at Kempton. In the long term he should make a chaser but it would be no surprise to see him make his mark over hurdles this season.
World Hurdle winner Big Bucks (pictured below) makes his seasonal debut in the 1.35. His ultimate target will be to defend his crown at Cheltenham come March but he should still prove too good for the opposition tomorrow even though he is unlikely to be 100% fit at this early stage of the season.
The 2.05 is an open race. Isn’t That Lucky has done all his winning in the spring months which might be a bit of a negative. He was pulled up on his last start which was at Aintree which I suppose has to be another negative. Still, he is quite well treated on his best form and I will take a chance with him here.
In the Hennessy Gold Cup at 2.40 Denman is giving plenty of weight away to all his rivals. He won the race 2 years ago off a rating of 161 and needs to defy a mark of 174 if he is to repeat that success. If we could be sure that he is the Denman of 2 years ago I would fancy him but he has had his problems since then and I just think that 7/2 is a bit on the short side for him. There are plenty of interesting runners such as Grand National winners “Mon Mome (English) and Niche Market (Irish) as well as Cappa Bleu who won the Foxhunters at Cheltenham last season. The latter looked to have a big future ahead of his but was a big disappointment at Aintree last month and will need to do much better than that if he is to figure tomorrow. The Aintree race was over an inadequate trip though and upped in distance tomorrow we should see a very different animal. The other runner trained by Evan Williams, State of Play is worth considering. He won the race in 2006 and has performed with credit since in various big races although only actually winning once. He stays and he jumps and he is in with a chance. Mon Mome (pictured below) won the Grand National at 100/1 but will find a few too good for him in this field I would think.
Gone to Lunch was 2nd in the Scottish National last season and should strip fitter for his recent run at Ascot . He may not want really testing conditions. Barber’s Shop will have his supporters, he was 7th in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, as will Ballyfitz from the Twiston-Davies yard. My Will could go well at a big price. His career record is a model of consistency and he has performed with great credit in big races. He was 5th in this race last season and occupied the same finishing position in the Gold Cup before coming 3rd in the Grand National.
All but one of the last 10 renewals have been won by 6 or 7 year olds (the other winner was 8). There are only 5 runners aged 6 or 7 and they would represent my short list. Barber’s Shop, Kornati Kid, Killyglen, Cappa Bleu and What a Friend. It is worth noting that Killyglen and Kornati Kid act well on soft ground while What a Friend is probably best on good ground. For my selection I will go for Barber’s Shop who has a touch of class. I fear Cappa Bleu who could be anything and would not want to deter you from risking a few shillings on the other 3 on my short list (but don’t forget to consider the ground).
My two against the field in the 3.15 are recent Aintree winner Nampour and Micheal Flips who was 3rd at Ascot on his last start.
The feature race at Newcastle if the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at 1.50 where Binocular and Solwhit clash. With only 7 runners this could turn into a tactical cat and mouse affair and is a race I will watch rather than bet on.
Run to Space is no world beater but he is quite consistent and I am hopeful that he will run well in the Newcastle 12.10 while Irish raider Weapon’s Amnesty is my selection in the 1.15.
Nicky Henderson runs a promising newcomer in the 2.25. Quantatitiveasing is a full brother to Grade 1 winner Asian Maze and won a bumper at Punchestown in good style last season. AP McCoy has the ride.
In the 3.25 Coe, Jass and Chief Dan George are all worth considering.
Great Endeavour won over hurdles last season and makes his chase bow at the same track tomorrow in the 2.00 He has had a recent good run over hurdles when 3rd to Lie Forrit and trainer David Pipe will have him well schooled over fences. He should win.
Jungleand is a horse to look out for this season. He runs tomorrow in the Towcester 2.35 but he has been off the track for a long time so I will keep a watching brief for the moment.
At Fairyhouse I would suggest a small interest in The Midnight Club and Jessie’s Dream in the 3.00.
My thanks to Kate Tann for use of her excellent photos.