Former Talksport man Charlie McCann marks your card and previews the action with six tips at Newbury and Leopardstown on Saturday. Selections below
A cracking card at Newbury on Saturday with the feature the Grade 1 Challow Novices’ Hurdle which can go to Donald McCain’s Clondaw Kaempfer (2.45) who has looked top class in both starts over hurdles since joining the yard following his success in a valuable Fairyhouse bumper back in the spring. This represents a step up in class but that can also be said of all his main rivals and it doesn’t look the strongest of Grade 1’s in all fairness.
Any Given Day is a personal favourite but the grey is returning from a 12 month absence and is unlikely to appreciate heavy ground on his reappearance and I think Salubrious (3.15) can be given another chance to atone for his defeat over a slightly shorter trip here at the beginning of the month. The selection was reported to be in need of the run when slightly disappointing at Chepstow on his reappearance and bumped into a well handicapped rival when running on last time. Leading conditional Harry Derham takes of a valuable 5lbs and he is taken to give Paul Nicholls a winner.
My Tent Or Yours (3.50) and Puffin Bully are the two best novice hurdlers on this side of the Irish Sea to my eye this term and the former can maintain his 100% record over timber in Newbury’s finale; I was very taken by the performance of Jezki (6/1 for the Supreme NRFB at BetVictor) at Leopardstown earlier in the week but the selection can land this before taking a step up in grade.
I like the booking of AP McCoy for Rey Nacarado (2.10) in the Mandarin; the selection won the corresponding race last year off a 1lb lower mark and ran well over C&D at the beginning of the month when amateur ridden. The 7-y-o can pull hard on occasions but the hope is that the Champion jockey can get him settled and into a nice jumping rhythm.
In Ireland Hurricane Fly (2.00) cannot be opposed in the Istabraq Festival Hurdle for Willie Mullins; the former Champion Hurdler lost his crown at Cheltenham back in the spring but connections are convinced he wasn’t quite himself that day and he gained a bloodless victory at Punchestown on his reappearance following the last hurdle fall of the ill-fated Go Native.
There is a terrific Beginners’ Chase at Leopardstown and Marasonnien is considered capable of much better than he showed on his first start over fences in Ireland for the Mullins’ camp; the drop back in trip is a cause for concern, however, and Lord Windermere and The Real Article (1.30) are big dangers with the latter getting the nod.
Over the New Year look out for See What Happens from the stable of Martin Todhunter at Catterick; he looked a potential improver over the larger obstacles when making his chase debut at Wetherby back in October and, although the form has taken a few knocks since, he can go one better especially if taking the handicap route.