Paul Ferguson has two selections from Newbury for us on Wednesday; Imperial Leader at 1.55 and Chapoturgeon at 4.05. Compare odds and bet.
After a couple of average days racing, it is hoped that Newbury passes a 9am inspection as the card at the Berkshire track is easily the most interesting that has been on offer so far this week.
The 2m1f novices’ chase offers up Colour Squadron the opportunity to go one better than he did when runner-up on his chase debut at the track 18 days ago. Given that his saddle slipped and Tony McCoy performed wonders in the saddle to get him to finish so close, he looked a sure-fire future winner over fences.
However, he faces a really interesting rival here in the shape of Paul Nicholls’ French recruit Fago who was last seen finishing second in the Grade 1 Prix Maurice Gillios, a race Long Run won back in 2009 before joining Nicky Henderson.
The son of Balko had earlier beaten the winner over the same course-and-distance in September, where he made all. The four-year-old again took the race by the scruff of the neck last time, so expect a bold display over a shorter trip today. The form isn’t easy to assess and he has to concede 4lbs to all six rivals today, but he is potentially a very smart sort (judged on the videos I’ve seen). This is very much a race to watch closely.
Alan King took the 2m3f novice hurdle in 2011 with Pride In Battle and the trainer saddles the favourite again this afternoon in the shape of course-and-distance winner Uxizandre who is taken on with Imperial Leader (1:55).
Nigel Twiston-Davies’ five-year-old, who finished runner-up in both bumpers, stayed on well to beat a useful rival in Ballyalton on his hurdles debut at Southwell in November, before finishing fourth in a really hot Cheltenham novice hurdle the following month (form that is working out well and form that this column has been following closely).
The first two home, Melodic Rendezvous and Royal Boy, finished first and third in the Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle earlier this month, while the fifth and seventh home, Mr Watson and Valdez, have both won since.
The sedate pace that day would have been against the selection, so the step back up in trip and Newbury’s long galloping straight ought to be right up his street. Given the handicapper has him 8lbs higher than Alan King’s charge, it was surprising that he opened up 11/4 second favourite last night into 15/8 this morning.
Former Cheltenham Festival winner (won the Jewson back in 2009 when it was a novices’ handicap) Chapoturgeon (4:05) bolted up in the concluding hunters’ chase last season and he can dish out more of the same this afternoon.
The nine-year-old grey went on to run well at both Cheltenham and Aintree, latterly in handicap company on Grand National day, and he ought to be very difficult to beat over this sort of trip back in hunter chase company. The only slight negative would be really testing ground, but his class can see him through for the Barber’s.
1:55 Newbury: Imperial Leader (15/8 Skybet)
4:05 Newbury: Chapoturgeon (4/6 Skybet)
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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)