A wonderful card from Newbury is today’s highlight including the richest handicap hurdle in Europe the totesport Trophy with 23 runners going to post including last year’s winner Get Me Out Of Here who must race from a mark 15lbs higher. Runner up in last season’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle the JP McManus-owned 7-y-o has been well supported in recent days and connections obviously expect to see a much improved show from following two lack lustre efforts before the turn of the year.
Trainer Alan King has a very strong hand with both Salden Licht and Walkon (3.35) heading the market with and the latter is given the nod. A Grade 1 winner as a juvenile he was off the track for best part of two years before running a wonderful race over an additional three furlongs at Ascot on his comeback.
His critics will tell you he is a prime candidate to “bounce” which is the explanation why many horses run poorly on their second start back from a long lay off, but if he is to take his place in the Champion Hurdle line up he must run well in what I consider to be a vintage renewal of the race.
Totesport Trophy: EW ¼ odds 1,2,3,4: prices from
Salden Licht 7/1
Get Me Out Of Here 9/1
Final Approach 9/1
Notus De La Tour 10/1
Recession Proof 12/1
Riverside Theatre has won twice at Newbury but all his other wins have come right-handed and I think he is vulnerable favourite in a poor Aon Chase. The two fancied runners are owned by celebrities with actor Jimmy Nesbitt co-owner of Riverside Theatre and United boss Sir Alex Ferguson owner of What A Friend. Ogee would have been the selection had the rains stayed away and there is a decent handicap to be won with Renee Robeson’s stable star this spring but good or faster ground is essential.
If Sports Line (3.00) learns to settle he could become a decent chaser over the minimum distance and Timmy Murphy is an interesting booking for the McCain yard with stable jockey Jason Maguire at Warwick. He may get a soft lead and if proving more amenable to restraint for Murphy he would have a very good chance on his best form in Ireland for Willie Mullins.
Game Spirit Chase: ew ¼ 1, 2: prices from
French Opera 5/2
Tchico Polos 5/2
Sports Line 7/1
Oiseau De Nuit 14/1
Arkle favourite Finian’s Rainbow cannot be opposed at Warwick but he makes no appeal as a betting medium given a number of the yard’s inmates have performed below expectation in recent weeks.
There is a cracking novice chase with Alfie Sherrin and Cannington Brook meeting the talented mare Silver Kate (3.45) and it is the latter, who bravely got back up to beat Voramar Two at Chepstow last time, who is preferred. Alfie Sherrin has been well supported for the 4m National Hunt Chase at the Festival and he looks sure to go close but his market rival capitulated at Wetherby last time and he may well go off too short a price given his connections.
Dark Shadow (4.55) is reported as being well above average by the Henderson stable and if the yards’ runners have been running to form he must be supported in the concluding bumper.
Leopardstown stage their postponed Irish Hennessy card and the hope is that Mikael D’Haguenet (1.45) can break his maiden tag on his third start over fences. The surprise defection of Pride Of Dulcote weakens the feature event but this can still go to a British raider courtesy of Money Trix (3.15) representing Nicky Richards.
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