Following a day’s break the ITV Racing cameras are back for more festive horse racing with five races at Newbury with the feature race being the Challow Hurdle which Paul Nicholls is looking for his fifth success in the race, having previously won it with the likes of Denman, Bravemansgame and Stage Star. There’s also a brace of modest handicaps from Warwick and one on the all-weather at Lingfield. Eight in total and here are my early thoughts and selections for all eight of our ITV Racing tips.
Eleven chasers line up for this 2m 92 yard class 3 handicap chase. The most interesting horse by far is the Venetia Williams trained six year old Gamaret who hasn’t been seen on a racecourse since last February and is making his chasing and handicap debut. He could quite easily blow these all away or bomb out! Chris Gordon’s Only Money has claims although the handicapper appears to just about have his measure whilst a more interesting runner is last year’s winner Gallic Geordie who’s 9lb higher than that success and whilst he should run well for trainer Samuel Drinkwater he may need softer ground. No outsiders take my eye and I’ll take a chance on the aforementioned Gamaret for Venetia and Charlie Deutsch.
GAMARET 2 points win @ 10/3 William Hill
Thirteen go to post for this class 4 3m 2F handicap hurdle which is not as competitive as the numbers would suggest. The likely favourite is the Philip Hobbs trained Langley Hundred who is chasing a hat trick following victories at Exeter and Ludlow under 10lb claiming conditional jockey Elizabeth Gale. The horse has only risen 6lb for that brace of wins and should be there at the finish today. He beat Dan Skelton’s Farmers Gamble 4 1/4L last time and on 4lb better terms should get closer today. Christian Williams’ Lord Snootie makes his handicap debut and is one to watch in the market but Williams is very much out of form at present and is passed over. Not a great race by ITV standards and I’ll stick with the proven form of Langley Hundred to small stakes.
LANGLEY HUNDRED 1 point win @ 7/2 bet365
Next up is a class 2 handicap hurdle which has attracted fourteen participants. The two most interesting runners are both making their handicap debuts. Harry Fry’s Lady Adare, who’s missed a couple of recent engagements down to the ground and is unbeaten in four starts, a bumper for Micky Hammond and three novice hurdles for Fry. She could be well treated off of 130. The other possible blot on the handicap is the Skelton’s Pikar who impressed when winning at Chepstow last time out in a novice hurdle and has been well backed since the 48 hour declarations were made. Lucy Wadham’s Martello Sky looks favourably handicapped and can’t be ruled out off of his last winning mark whilst top weight Soaring Glory is back over hurdles and not out of this either. There’s others with chances as well but I’ll take Lady Adare, who trainer Fry has spoken well off in a recent stable file, to take advantage of a possible lenient handicap mark.
LADY ADARE 2 points each way @ 6/1 bet365 1/5th 1234
Only nine go to post for this class 4 three mile conditional jockeys’ veterans’ handicap chase. Dan Skelton’s Go Steady heads the market following a solid success at Lingfield in a similar race at the beginning of the month under today’s pilot Tristan Durrell. He’s two from five at the track and with just a 4lb rise should be thereabouts although is scant value at around the 15/8 mark. Tom George’s Smuggler’s Blues would have probably finished runner up to the eventual winner Certainly Red at Wincanton last time but for crashing out at the second last and is another with claims despite a 3lb rise. Oliver Greenall and Josh Guerriero’s Midnight Moss is the one I like here mind. The ten year old is quite lightly raced for one so old ( he turns eleven next week) having run only 13 times and ran a fine race, his first since a wind operation and a 232 day break, when runner up to Rocky’s Treasure at Doncaster three weeks ago and with that run under his belt now can go one better in what looks a very winnable race.
MIDNIGHT MOSS 1 point win @ 10/3 bet365
The Coral Racing Club Mandarin Handicap Chase has a long tradition and has attracted a decent sized field of sixteen staying chasers this year. It has a real open look about it with certainly no stand out bets. Venetia Williams’s Laskalin is up 5lb for his Ludlow victory a month ago and is one for the short list along with Jamie Snowden’s Tallow For Coal who was last seen at Lingfield in November beating Pemberley 7 1/2L. The latter re-opposes on 5lb better terms and can get closer for the Emma Lavelle team. Nigel Twiston-Davies’ top weight Undersupervision will need to jump better than he did at Chepstow on his re-appearance but that is a distinct possibility. At a monster price I’m going to play Alex Hales’ Fagan. He’s very well handicapped on some of his back form at this Berkshire track. He flopped on his re-appearance in the Becher Chase but that course isn’t for everyone and after a years break it’s quite easy to forgive him that run. He’s in the veteran stage now and turns 13 years of age next week but with Hales having a couple of winners over Christmas plus the booking of Harry Cobden is worth a small stakes each way bet with enhanced place terms.
FAGAN 1/2 point each way @ 66/1 BetVictor 1/5th 12345
ITV are showing this one mile class 3 fillies handicap which looks open enough with chances given to all six runners. Wadacre Grace comes into this in decent enough form having finished runner up on his last two starts at Kempton and Southwell and holds claims whilst fellow three year old Morgan Fairy is not without a shout. With stakes kept small it may be worth a small wager on Ed Walker’s top weight Sunset Bay. The four year old filly hasn’t been seen since September and is 0 from 2 on the all weather but she’s been running mostly in listed and group company this year since winning two handicaps on the turf in the Summer. Rob Hornby gets the call up and could be the answer to this tricky handicap.
SUNSET BAY 1 point win @ 5/1 bet365
The feature race of the days entertainment at Newbury is the Coral Challow Novices’ Hurdle a grade one contest run over 2m 4 1/2F which has attracted its biggest field this century with fourteen going to post including two representatives from Ireland. A warm favourite is Paul Nicholls’ Hermes Allen who’s looked a smart prospect winning at Stratford and Cheltenham this winter. Nicholls likes to run his best novice hurdler here and saddles Her see Allen. He must have every chance with the only thing not to like is his price at around the 5/4 mark. There’s plenty of promising sorts in opposition here including Nicky Henderson’s Cheltenham winner Attacca and Fergal O’Briens’ Ascot winner Crambo. Nigel Twiston-Davies’ Idalka Bihoue, who was a very easy winner at Worcester in October, falls into the ‘could be anything’ bracket and is a big priced possible. The horse I want to be with though is the Skelton’s Vicki Vale, one of two mares in the race. She coasted home at Hereford in November on her hurdling debut and although there was little depth to the contest it was the visual performance that stood out with her trainer stating afterwards that ‘she could be anything’ and ‘she looks very very good’. The owners Bullen-Smith and Faulks’ West Balboa was second in this race last year and they have a decent chance to take the first prize this year round. Make sure you find a firm that is paying the 4th place (William Hill, bet365, Skybet and Boylesports).
VICKI VALE 1 1/2 points each way @ 9/1 bet365 1/5th 1234
Ten line up for this class 3 2m 6F 93 yards novices’ handicap chase. It’ll take a good one to take the first prize with five last time out winners starting. Tea For Free did us a favour last time at Uttoxeter under Lily Pinchin and has claims again despite a 6lb rise. Fergal O’Brien’s Nothin To Ask is chasing a hat trick following wins at Chepstow and Doncaster but has risen 16lb for that brace of wins. Malinello won after a long layoff and a wind operation at Newcastle last time for Ben Pauling and should be thereabouts. A wide open contest although anyone that saw Nicky Henderson’s top weight Bold Endeavour win at Leicester last time will want to be with him again despite a 9lb rise in the weights. That was his first run for the master of Seven Barrows having joined from Laura Morgan and although it was gained on a unseasonable good to firm terrain he has shown last season he copes with slow ground and he’s the selection under Nico De Boinville.
BOLD ENDEAVOUR 2 points win @ 9/2 bet365