Paul Ferguson has one selection for us on Thursday; Well Sharp in the 2.15 at Taunton. Compare odds and bet.
It’s the opening day of Newbury’s Hennessy Gold Cup meeting and the GPG Novices’ Chase is the most interesting contest on the card, with all six runners arriving here on the back of a victory over fences.
Emma Lavelle’s Highland Lodge was really impressive when winning on debut at Towcester earlier in the month and this has been the target since. The former winning pointer will relish the ground and, if he jumps as he did first time up (where he was foot perfect bar an early error), he looks up to going close.
But, he faces no easy task at the weights here and needs to find a stone with market leader Houblon Des Obeaux who made it two from two in the Rising Stars last time, beating useful hurdler and subsequent winner, Poungach.
Add in the mix another four unexposed and potentially smart novices and it looks a race to watch, rather than get involved in. This could well be the best staying novice chase run so far this season.
The day’s selection comes from Taunton where Well Sharp (2:15) is fancied to make it three from three over hurdles in the Totepool.com Handicap Hurdle.
JP McManus shelled out 250,000gns for the useful Flat performer who won at Wetherby in May and Market Rasen in August on his two starts for Jonjo O’Neill. Clearly he has a big engine and, though he needs to brush up his hurdling, the four-year-old could end up looking leniently treated on an opening mark of 125.
The bare form of his two hurdles successes needs improving on, but he looked a class above those rivals and could be one who progresses through the ranks. Given his form in big field handicaps on the level (the pick of which was a third to Brown Panther at last year’s Royal Ascot) this kind of contest could suit more than small field novice events.
Soft ground is the one concern, but that Ascot run came on good-to-soft and he is by Selkirk, so ought to handle testing conditions. With AP McCoy in action at Newbury, Richie McLernon takes over in the saddle and he was trading at 5/2 with Betfred this morning.
2:15 Taunton: Well Sharp (5/2 Betfred)
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Last Year’s Book Results – Leading Prospects:
- SPRINTER SACRE – Unbeaten – winner at Aintree & Cheltenham
- SIMONSIG – Winner at Aintree & Cheltenham
- CINDERS AND ASHES – 10/1 winner of Supreme Novices Hurdle
- BOBS WORTH – 9/2 winner of the RSA Chase
- MENORAH & SILVINIACO CONTI – Both Aintree Winners
- SIR DES CHAMPS – Unbeaten inc 3/1 Jewson Cheltenham Winner
- FINGAL BAY – Won 4 times inc Challow Hurdle
- RAYA STAR – 10/3 winner at Wetherby, 12/1 Ladbroke Hurdle winner, 15/2 Scottish Champion Hurdle winner
- AMBION WOOD – 14/1 EBF Final Sandown winner
- CHAMPION COURT – 6/1 G2 Dipper Novices Chase winner
- PALACE JESTER – 14/1 winner at FFos Las
- SWINCOMBE FLAME – Hat-trick winner inc Lanzarote Hurdle at 9/2
- TEAFOR THREE – 5/1 NH Cheltenham Chase winner (Manifesto Novices’ Chase)