Paul Ferguson has two selections from Newbury for us on Saturday; Hammersley Lake in 1.50 and Smad Place at 3.00 and Sir Vinski in the Newcastle 3.15. Compare odds and bet.
With plenty in his favour Smad Place (3:00) is the one to side with in what looks a corking renewal of the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury this afternoon.
Alan King’s grey goes well fresh, is two from two at Newbury, handles testing ground and shapes as though he will relish the step up to the extended 3m2f. After just four starts over fences, there is every chance of further progress and, with the stable in great form (three winners on day one of the meeting), everything looks set for a bold show – he should be backed each-way at the best price available this morning.
As you would expect, there are plenty of potential dangers, starting with market leader Djakadam who could well be ahead of the handicapper. If he is to develop into the Gold Cup contender that connections believe, he should be going close off 142, but he’s yet to race beyond 2m5f, has to book the trend being only five, and has actually only completed twice from three starts over fences. With that in mind, he is tight enough in the market but, if Ruby Walsh gets him into a rhythm, he could easily brush off his opening rating.
Elsewhere Many Clouds will relish the ground and jumped beautifully when scoring on his return at Carlisle, but has to prove his stamina, while The Druids Nephew is the one at double-figure odds that I like. He moved extremely well for a long way at Cheltenham a fortnight ago and the slightly shorter trip should suit. Off the same mark, he could go extremely well, though I’m slightly concerned that he may have left his race behind last time.
Earlier on the card Hammersley Lake (1:50) can get off the mark in Britain for Nicky Henderson and Barry Geraghty in the 2m3f handicap hurdle.
A smart performer as a three-year-old in deep ground in France, he fell on his sole start for current connections last winter, before defying almost 11 months off to finish a head second at Cheltenham 43 days ago.
Given time to get over that, the step up in trip on softer ground should help here and he can provide Henderson with a winner at the end of what has been a testing week.
Up at Newcastle Sir Vinski (3:15) can make a winning debut over timber in the concluding maiden, for the in-form Nicky Richards.
The Vinnie Roe chestnut created a favourable impression when winning a Kelso bumper by 10 lengths (trainer won the race with Eduard in 2012) and looks an exciting recruit. The one slight concern is testing ground, but I’m sure Richards wouldn’t be risking such a prospect if he didn’t think he could handle conditions.
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