Eight races this afternoon with the ITV cameras showing five from Newbury with the feature race the Coral Gold Cup and three from Newcastle where we have the Fighting Fifth with the re-appearance of arguably the most exciting horse in training in Nicky Henderson’s unbeaten superstar Constitution Hill. The ground is likely to be just on the slow side at Newbury whilst Newcastle are reporting drying good to soft conditions.
A competitive 2m 6F handicap chase run in the memory of the legendary commentator Sir Peter O’Sullevan kicks off the days ITV coverage with a decent sized field of thirteen facing the starter. Last years winner Kapcorse is back to defend his title off of a 6lb higher mark and looks interesting for the combo of Nicholls and Cobden with a lay off unlikely to be an issue as he won this off of a similar break 12 months ago. Bottom weight Killer Kane will no doubt improve for his seasonal re-appearance when 6th at Chepstow and is a player here along with the Nicky Henderson runner Mister Coffey who is making his first start of the campaign. Welsh trainer Christian Williams runs a brace in top weight Kitty’s Light who may still be too high in the weights and of more interest his Cap Du Nord who won this race two years ago and is ridden by a 7lb conditional jockey today. Kerry Lee’s Demachine is a horse I like who ran out a comfortable winner at Uttoxeter when last seen in May and with Lee amongst the winners recently could be the value bet here. I also can’t resist a small each way saver on Philip Hobb’s Zanza who has form figures here of 1161 and is currently on a winning mark.
DEMACHINE 1 point each way @ 15/2 bet365 1/5th 1234
ZANZA 1/2 point each way @ 9/1 1/5th 1234
Five novice chasers line up for this class 3 2m 7F 91 yard novices’ handicap chase. Irish challenger Shantou Lucky trained by County Meath handler Gavin Cromwell is a rare runner here for his trainer and has to be respected but my preference is for the James Ewart trained Lord Roco who showed plenty of promise on his chase debut at Ayr when runner up to Grand Voyage. He’s stepping up three furlongs here but the stamina test should suit him and this lightly raced six year old looks sure to be competitive. Ben Pauling has his team in excellent shape and saddles his fencing debutant Malinello under Luca Morgan. He’s not been seen on the racecourse for 686 days and it will be some training performance where he to take this off of top weight. Brian Ellison’s Son Of The Somme is another who could take a hand in the finish following a promising chase debut at Ayr in October but it’s Lord Roco for me.
LORD ROCO 2 points win @ 4/1 BetVictor
A decent and competitive 12 runner class 2 handicap hurdle run over 2m 4 1/2F is next up with the two market leaders making their handicap debuts and could be a fair bit better than their handicap mark. Nicky Henderson saddles Walking On Air, an impressive maiden hurdle winner here last January who it seems is held in very high regard by his trainer and a mark of just 132 could seriously underestimate his ability. The other potential blot on the handicap is the Skelton runner West Balboa who was last seen running second in last season’s Tolworth Hurdle over course and distance. She too could potentially be chucked in. Both have been well supported throughout the week with slight preference for the Henderson runner. Lord Baddesley impressed when bolting up at Plumpton last time but has been raised 9lb for that victory. Fergal O’Brien’s Peking Rose scraped home at Aintree last month and wouldn’t be certain to confirm that form with the third Petit Tonnerre who re-opposes on 2lb better terms for just over a length. An interesting runner at what appears to me to be too big a price is the Ian Williams trained Malakahna. The four year old filly comes here having won her last two starts on the flat in the Autumn and is chasing a four timer over timber having last been seen in that sphere at Cheltenham at their April meeting. She looks overpriced and I’ll back her small each way as well as Nicky Henderson’s Walking On Air.
MALAKAHNA 1 point each way @ 14/1 Boylesports 1/5th 1234
WALKING ON AIR 1 point win @ 7/2 William Hill
Ascot’s loss is Newcastle’s gain as the most exciting horse in training Constitution Hill lines up for the two mile Fighting Fifth Hurdle on his seasonal re-appearance. Unbeaten last season in three starts culminating in a remarkable rout in the Supreme Novices Hurdle at Cheltenham in a very fast time, Nicky Henderson’s five year old is already around the even money mark for the Champion Hurdle and bar accidents should be winning this under Nico de Boinville. His smart stable companion Epatante, a former Champion Hurdle winner herself, has won this the last two years and is no slouch herself. She can finish runner up here but from a punting perspective it’s a no bet race but well worth watching to see how special Michael Buckley’s charge is.
The 2m 69 yard intermediate handicap hurdle registered as the Gerry Feilden is a valuable contest which has attracted just the eight participants. All 8 can be give a chance of sorts with local trainer Nicky Henderson heading the weights with First Street and Thaetre Glory who are both making their seasonal re-appearances today. Both have claims though it’s the handicap debutant Pikak trained by Dan Skelton and ridden by his brother Harry that takes my eye. He kept good novice company as a four year old in races won by the likes of smart sorts Knappers Hill, I Like To Move It and Jonbon and got off the mark when an easy winner at Chepstow in October. That form has been given a double boost since with the 3rd all set for victory when crashing out at Ascot and the 4th winning well since. His mark of 127 looks possibly lenient and can take this.
PIKAR 1 point win @ 10/3 bet365
Formerly known at The Hennessy Gold Cup and more recently The Ladbroke Trophy this 3m 2F handicap chase is now known as the Coral Gold Cup and as per normal has attracted a strong group of sixteen runners. With the bookmakers betting 7/1 the field and offering up to 6 places it really is a race to have a crack at. David Pipe runs two in Remastered and Gericault Roque with stable jockey Tom Scudamore on the latter although I wouldn’t be reading too much into that as Remastered was ridden by David Noonan last time when a comfortable winner over hurdles at Aintree with Gericault Roque down the field. Remastered was going like the winner when crashing out four from home last year and is actually 3lb lower this term. He’s on my short list. Joe Tizzard saddles three in Oscar Elite (Cobden), Fiddlerontheroof (Powell) and Lostintranslation (Freddie Gingell claiming 7lb). All have some sort of chance and I wouldn’t be shocked if the latter was to run well as he’s so well handicapped at present. Le Milos won well at Bangor last time and is officially 4lb well in here for the Skeltons but would definitely prefer it muddier. Lucinda Russell has her team in fine form with a treble at Kelso on Thursday and saddles Cheltenham Festival winner Corach Rambler who’s been teed up for this with a run at Carlisle 27 days ago. Towards the bottom of the handicap is Neil Mulholland’s Lord Accord who bumped into the well handicapped Frodon in the Badger Beers at Wincanton last time. A case can be made for plenty but it’s Remastered for me with a small saver on Lord Accord. Remember to shop around for those extra places.
REMASTERED 1 point each way @ 8/1 Paddy Power 1/5th 12345
LORD ACCORD 1/2 point each way @ 14/1 1/5th 12345
Nine staying chasers line up for this premier handicap, the Rehearsal Handicap Chase run over just short of three miles. The weights are headed by Venetia Williiam’s Cheltenham Festival winner L’Homme Presse who has the steadier of twelve stone to carry. Williams has hit form within the last week but her stable star has plenty to do giving lumps of weight away on his seasonal reappearance and I’ll be taking him on here. Last year’s winner Aye Right is two from three at the North Eastern track and ran well on his seasonal re-appearance in a competitive Kelso handicap five weeks ago. He can run well. Kim Bailey sends his smart eight year old Happygolucky up from Gloucestershire although he has a 595 day absence to overcome. The four rank outsiders Windsor Avenue, The Big Bite, Whoshotthesherriff and Dallas Des Pictons are hard to fancy and this looks a good race for an each way bet. It’s the bottom weight trained by the under rated Mark Walford who catches my eye. A progressive seven year old chaser who’s won his last four starts rising some 26lb. Getting 26lb from the favourite L’Homme Presse he looks an excellent each way bet.
INTO OVERDRIVE 1 1/2 points each way @ 4/1 bet365 1/5th 123
The afternoon’s terrestrial coverage concludes with a eight runner class 2 2M handicap chase. Joe Tizzard’s Amarillo Sky is a short enough favourite here having won at the Paddy Power meeting at Cheltenham on his re-appearance 33 days ago. Raised 4lb for that victory he looks sure to be thereabouts though I must admit at around the 11/8 mark hardly looks value. Chris Gordon has his string in fine form and saddles Only Money here who’s already won twice this Autumn and ran well enough at Aintree behind Gunshot Ridge last time. He has solid each way claims. Dan Skelton has two runners in top weight Eclair D’Ainay and Hatcher with Harry Skelton presumably choosing the former and is probably the pick of that pair. The horse I like though is Tom George’s Bun Doran who has fallen to a very nice handicap mark. He last won at Doncaster in March and after flopping at Aintree the following month is back on the same mark as his Doncaster win. George has had 4 winners from his last 13 runners at a win ratio of 31% and if all eight run is worth a small stakes each way bet against the favourite.
BUN DORAN 1 point each way @ 7/1 bet365 1/5th 123
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