Former Talksport man Charlie McCann marks your card with five to follow on Saturday at Newbury and Kelso. View selections below
Nicky Henderson has won the opening Novice Hurdle on Newbury’s card with some decent sorts over the years including with Sign Of A Victory twelve months ago and Hassle (1.25) showed enough on debut at Doncaster back in December to suggest he would be well up to winning over jumps.
The selection is a 90 rated animal on the flat for Clive Cox and looks just the sort who might be Aintree bound if he comes through today’s test. He won’t have things his own way, however, with King’s Tempest very highly regarded by the stable of Warren Greatrex although he just might lack the tactical speed over the minimum trip as the selection. King’s Tempest was only beaten a couple of lengths by Jollyallan at Exeter on his sole start over timber back in November and the winner is now rated 150+. This is a very good novice hurdle for the time of the year.
The following handicap chase was won by Pepite Rose (2.00) 12 months ago and the mare comes good at this time of year. The selection can run off the same mark this afternoon as when successful in 2014 for Venetia Williams and she will love the drying ground. Persian Snow is another who may have been freshened up following a break and he can run off the same mark as when second to Johns Spirit back in October.
The form of the Henry Daly yard is a concern for Tara Mist in the Mares’ Final although the booking of Richard Johnson would suggest connections are optimistic of a big run. Preference is for Dusky Legend (2.35) from the yard of Alan King successful in the race back in 2012; the form of her second in a listed contest at Taunton back in December suggests she could be well treated off this mark although Nicky Henderson has saddled the winner three times in the last five years and Spartan Angel at the foot of the weights is much respected.
In the finale Village Vic (4.55) has been raised 5lbs for winning over C&D three weeks ago and he certainly appreciated the better ground when making all on that occasion. The selection finished runner up to The New One over timber and is open to further improvement over the larger obstacles.
Oscar Rock (3.25) can score for Malcolm Jefferson at Kelso in the valuable novices’ handicap chase; a winner at Newcastle last time out in the first time blinkers he has not reached the heights expected of him but he is lightly raced and travelled very well on decent ground at Newcastle last time. A 6lb rise is unlikely to prevent him going close.