SOLDATINO (3.35) looks the pick of Nicky Henderson’s three runners in the Totesport Trophy at Newbury, with Barry Geraghty opting to take the ride on last year’s Triumph Hurdle hero. Soldatino has his work cut out to overturn Ascot form on his seasonal reappearance with several of today’s rivals but he was travelling as well as anything three out that day before seeming to blow up. Henderson is sure to have him razor-sharp for a handicap he loves to win.
There is top action at Leopardstown where JONCOL (3.50) has an obvious chance of following up last year’s neck success over Cooldine in the Hennessy Gold Cup. An excellent third in the Lexus Chase behind rising star Pandorama (Cooldine pulled up) confirmed the well-being of Paul Nolan’s eight-year-old and Joncol will have no trouble handling the testing conditions.
MIKAEL D’HAGUENET (2.45) must put behind him a flat performance at Leopardstown’s New Year fixture but the extra four furlongs of the Dr P J Moriarty Novices’ Chase should help him settle into an efficient jumping tempo.
At Lingfield, Silvestre De Sousa has hit the ground running on his return from foreign shores and last year’s sensation can continue his winning association with Mark Johnston aboard top weight EMERGING ARTIST (4.50). The five-year-old kept good company on the turf last season, winning a competitive Newbury handicap from Con Artist in midsummer. Scamperdale beat a heavily-gambled Johnston horse here last Saturday when running down Lover’s Causeway and, although dropping two furlongs in trip here, is clearly at the top of his game.
If there are no late defections from the 16-runner 1m 4f handicap, SUHAILAH (4.15) will be difficult to knock out the four places, despite a wide draw, as he runs the track very well.