Day two of Newbury’s Hennessy meeting and we begin with a Juvenile Hurdle. Alan King’s Karezak (12.25) looked an exciting prospect when scoring at Chepstow last month and the runner up, Golden Doyen, has subsequently franked the form by scoring in Grade 2 company at Cheltenham. He showed an excellent attitude at Chepstow but this will be the softest ground he has encountered to date. He carries a 6lbs penalty for his Welsh success but he is taken to maintain his unbeaten record.
Unique De Cotte (1.30) is impossible to oppose running off the same mark as when scoring in a conditional jockey’s event at Cheltenham earlier in the month. He is due to be raised 10lbs for that success and escapes a penalty as that victory was gained in a conditional jockey’s contest. AP McCoy takes over this afternoon and he is taken to score for David Pipe.
Coneygree was pulled out of a Plumpton Novice as the vet was not happy with the horse down at the start. Connections were disappointed, to put it mildly, and he is an exciting novice but I was much taken with Deep Trouble (2.05) at Leicester and felt he was crying out for an additional half mile. The Ben Case 7-year-old jumped really well at Oadby and looked a natural.
Pendra (2.40) is only 3lbs higher than when third at the Cheltenham Festival and has a very good record fresh for Charlie Longsdon. His jumping has been called into question on occasions but his defeat of Eduard at Carlisle first time out last year suggests his current mark is very workable.
At Doncaster Primo Capitano (12.15) can make a winning chase debut for Martin Keighley having run two solid races over timber earlier in the season. A winning pointer the form of his second to Parish Business back in October is very good form given the winner is currently rated 138 over timber and he could be very well handicapped from his current mark. The Keighley yard could be in better form and Andrew Tinkler takes over from Ian Popham who is currently sidelined but I am convinced this 6-year-old will be rated higher than 116 in time.
Novirak (12.45) was last seen finishing runner up on the level from a mark of 89 and is an exciting recruit to the winter game for James Fanshawe who, lest we forget, has such a fantastic record with the few hurdlers through his hands. Denis O’Regan takes the ride in a race few can be seriously considered despite the 18-runner field.
Premier Grand Cru (2.30) was returning from a 1257 day lay-off when running an eye-catching race at Carlisle and is very well treated on his hurdles form. Lucy Alexander keeps the ride on the 8-y-old who is entitled to come on for his first chase start for a yard, James Ewart, I have utmost respect for.