Former Talksport man Charlie McCann marks your card and previews the action at Newbury with five tips. View selections below
The big jumps races come thick and fast at this time of the year and the weekend highlight is the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury; 19 go to post with the market headed at BetVictor by dual Cheltenham Festival winner Bobs Worth at 4/1 from Hold On Julio at 7s, Tidal Bay 8s and The Package 9s.
Having backed Alfie Spinner at 66/1 when the betting started on the race I can’t desert him now; the race is often won by a progressive second season chaser and whilst he looks too short in the betting now (14/1) he is likely to drift on the day and the hope is that he can make the most of his light-weight. He might lack the class of some previous winners but it doesn’t look a vintage renewal and the hope is he can sneak a place.
Champion trainer Paul Nicholls’ continues to carry all before him in these big weekend races and if on a going day the enigmatic Tidal Bay could turn this into a procession even at the age of 11 carrying 11st 12lbs; he is 12lb higher than when winning the Bet365 Handicap (formerly Whitbread) back in the spring but showed he was as good as ever when scoring over hurdles on his reappearance at Wetherby.
Bobs Worth needs good ground and conditions certainly didn’t look too bad on the opening day; no rain is forecast although the frost will ensure the ground remains on the soft side. He is not the biggest to be carrying lumps of weight on bad ground but he is a class performer although he might be not seen to best advantage until Cheltenham in the spring.
I am keen on the chances of Rey Nacarado (12.15) in the opening Amateur riders’ Chase; a C&D winner on soft ground over last New Year he is only 2lb higher than that success and the handicapper has dropped him a couple of pounds for what was a pleasing reappearance. Ballyoliver is getting his act together over fences and is a big threat for Venetia Williams with the jockey booking very much a positive.
Call Me A Star (12.50) made an impressive debut over timer last month and ought to follow up in the listed Mares’ Hurdle; second in the Aintree mares’ bumper she always suggested she would make a decent hurdler and she has already gained her revenge on her Aintree conqueror Eleven Fifty Nine at Uttoxeter. The selection will get further in time but she is taken to maintain her unbeaten record over hurdles.
I hope it’s a very good day for trainer Alan King as I am sweet on the chances of Godsmejudge 1.25 in what is an ultra competitive Novices’ handicap; he will get further in time and I always felt he would make up into a decent staying chaser when sent over the larger obstacles.
Big Buck’s only has to be pointed in the right direction for his 18th successive win in the Long Distance Hurdle but he will go off a Frankel type price. Kateal is a mare I have plenty of time for but I hope she sets the finale up for Ulck Du Lin who looked as if he would benefit from a drop back in trip having travelled like a good horse at Stratford on his reappearance.
Only a 4-y-old he lacks experience but looks potentially well treated and he can bring the curtain down on the Hennessy Meeting of 2013 with a win for the all-conquering Nicholls/Walsh combination.
We have introduced a Non Runner Free Bet offer on the antepost market for the Cheltenham Festival so if you want to back Champagne Fever for example for the Supreme Novices’ and he doesn’t make the field for whatever reason we will give you a free bet on the opening day of the Festival to the same value up to a maximum of £50.