Newburys Winter Carnival Day 2 - Saturday 2/12/2017

Thread: Newburys Winter Carnival Day 2 - Saturday 2/12/2017

  1. ganjaman2's Avatar

    ganjaman2 said:

    Default Newburys Winter Carnival Day 2 - Saturday 2/12/2017

    12.45 Newbury ? Ladbrokes John Francome Novices? Chase (Grade 2)

    Thistlecrack and Native River have won the last two renewals of this race and whilst on the face of it, there doesn?t seem to be a performer of that quality in this year?s field, it looks a competitive affair.

    Paul Nicholls saddles Black Corton who stretched his winning sequence to five at Cheltenham a couple of weeks ago, claiming the notable scalps of Ballyoptic and West Approach in the process. He has been on the go since June but has struck up a fine partnership with Bryony Frost and he now finds himself with an official rating of 155. He has earned a crack at Graded company and although he has to concede 3lb to all of his rivals here, on official ratings at least, he looks the one to beat.

    Fountains Windfall made an excellent start to his chasing career at Southwell recently, overcoming a couple of early mistakes to beat Nicky Henderson?s Stowaway Magic by eleven lengths. That was over 2m4f but Anthony Honeyball?s seven-year-old won a valuable handicap hurdle over 3m at Aintree last spring so he shouldn?t have any worries in terms of stamina.

    One of the more experienced members of the field is Sir Ivan who took a while to get the hang of chasing but seems to have turned a corner as he has been successful on his last two starts. Harry Fry?s seven-year-old beat Cole Harden at Ffos Las in May before taking advantage of a lenient handicap mark at Uttoxeter last time. He is clearly improving but will need to step forward again to figure here.

    Philip Hobbs runs Wait For Me who looked to be travelling as well as anything when crashing out at the fourth last at Chepstow last time. He showed a tendency to jump low on his chasing bow at Worcester and he took one too many chances with the stiff Chepstow fences on his most recent outing. I would be prepared to forgive a more experienced horse such a fall but you have to worry about how he will react to such an experience, so I am happy to pass over him here.

    With that in mind, I am going to take a chance on ELEGANT ESCAPE who has shaped with promise on both of his runs over fences to date. He finished second to Alan King?s Mia?s Storm at Chepstow in October but it is worth noting that he was conceding 7lb to the winner that day, who has franked the form by winning a Listed chase next time. He also ran well for a long way at Exeter last time behind Ballyoptic before making a mistake at the third last. Most of his best form has come on a sounder surface so there is every reason to think that conditions here will be more suitable than those he faced at Exeter last time. The form of the race he contested at Chepstow in October is working out well and with his stable having saddled the last two winners of this race, I think it is worth taking a chance on him at slightly bigger odds.


    ELEGANT ESCAPE ? 1pt win @ 12/1 (Paddy Power)

    1.20 Newbury ? Sir Peter O?Sullevan Memorial Handicap Chase

    Interestingly, the 1-2 from last year?s race re-oppose here and the weights are framed in a way that O Maonlai should again defeat Warriors Tale if both horses arrive in the same form as 12 months ago. The Tom George-trained nine-year-old is now 6lb higher than for that win, where the Paul Nicholls-trained eight-year-old is 13lb higher. Even with Bryony Frost?s helpful 5lb claim, that?s a 2lb swing in O Maonlai?s favour. Another factor to consider is race fitness ? Nicholls? charge has had a run, albeit unseating, where George?s has not, but O Maonlai has been very good fresh, including in this race in the past two years.

    However, there is another contest between these two, at this track but over a couple of furlongs less, to look at ? Warriors Tale defeated O Maonlai comfortably when winning off a mark of 137, effectively 1lb lower than what he races off here, while the latter was carrying 3lb more. The margin between the two was 14 lengths that day, so 4lb wouldn?t make much difference to that result and I do think that Paul Nicholls? horse has improved plenty since that first meeting between the two. He should be reaching his best years now as an eight-year-old and could still be on an upward curve, while it does seem that Tom George?s horse could well have got to the peak of his ability. The fact that he?s a tricky ride that needs to be positioned just right serves to strengthen my opinion that WARRIORS TALE will keep that rival behind him and go very close here over a trip and in ground that is perfect for him.

    Paul Nicholls also has Bouvreuil in here and with Harry Cobden on board, you would presume he?d be the stable number one. However, it does seem a little strange that he?s being run over this staying trip when he?s been almost exclusively raced over two to two and a half miles so far in his life. He was third in the Plate handicap over that intermediate trip at the Festival though, so he could have room for manoeuvre off this mark, even though the trip and giving weight to everything else isn?t ideal.

    Nicky Henderson?s Gold Present is another who ran well at the Festival back in March ? second in the Close Brothers Novices? Chase off a 5lb lower mark ? but may not be ideally suited by this extra couple of furlongs that he?ll have to tackle here. Still, he looked a rapid improver last season and I don?t think the extra weight will stop him running well to two out, I just think that there are some stronger stayers than him that could out gun him late on ? especially on what looks to be fairly sticky ground.

    On Tour was the recipient of a sensational Mitchell Bastyan ride when winning last time out at Aintree, but he?ll have to travel one hell of a lot better here to repeat the feat off a 5lb higher mark. This surface should suit him but the trip looks a bit of a stretch for him and the memory of his tailed off effort in last year?s contest is a worry here.

    Richard Johnson partners the Caroline Bailey-trained Crosspark here, and this seven-year-old could be a big threat to the selection. The horse had the same rider on for his reappearance run three weeks ago over an insufficient two and a half miles and he ran well to finish fourth after being prominent throughout. This trip should suit much better and even though this is a career-high mark, he?s run respectably off it the last twice and could go well at a price here.


    WARRIORS TALE ? 1pt e/w @ 7/1 (bet365) (1/4 odds)

    1.50 Newbury ? Ladbrokes Handicap Hurdle

    This looks ultra-competitive with most of the top yards represented.

    Alan King is double-handed here and looks to have leading claims with COEUR DE LION, who has Kevin Dowling taking a valuable 10lb off his back. The talented dual purpose performer was a close second to stablemate Who Dares Wins in the Cesarewitch Trial in September and followed that up with another placed effort at York. He was a tad disappointing behind the ill-fated London Prize in the Grade2 Elite Hurdle at Wincanton but he was merely caught for a bit of toe there and should appreciate the step up to 2m4f here at this stage of his career.

    Stablemate Dino Velvet gets in off a featherweight 10st but will need to show a great deal more than at Chepstow back in October to get involved here, for all that the step up in trip should suit. Fellow bottom weight Vicenzo Mio had some fair form for Paul Nicholls a couple of seasons back but has seemed firmly on the downgrade since then and this looks out of his range on his second start for Chris Gordon.

    Nicholls? hopes lie solely with Old Guard with the jockey of the moment, Bryony Frost, in the plate. The 2015 Greatwood Hurdle winner has bounced back to the same sort of form in his last couple of starts, finishing third in the valuable Cheltenham handicap last time out, but he has shown all of his best form around 2m and could well find the 2m4f trip here in soft ground just out of his range.

    Court Minstrel had him behind in seventh (Doesyourdogbite 16th) in the Silver Trophy at Chepstow back in October, and while there is a big swing in the weights, that form has proven to be very strong with the runner-up Sam Spinner hosing up in the Grade 3 Stayers? handicap Hurdle at Haydock last week (and now finding himself on a mark of 155). He clearly has a good affinity with the extremely talented conditional Mitchell Bastyan and would be the biggest danger to the selection if the ground were to dry out.

    If it turns out on the soft-side, his chances would take a huge knock and Air horse One could well cause the selection most problems. Harry Fry?s charge racked up a hat-trick earlier in the year and wasn?t beaten at all far when fourth to Arctic Fire in the County Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. It?s probably fair to say that he was over the top come the Punchestown Festival and bounced back to form straight away on his seasonal bow when just running out of puff to finish fourth behind subsequent Greatwood Hurdle winner Elgin. He has a career-high mark to contend with here but that could be well within his compass if stripping fitter for his run a month ago a big run is expected. Given the competitive nature of this contest though, he does look to be a bit on the short-side price-wise.

    Of the remainder, Master Dancer and Jabulani are both worthy of a mention but again, they look very short in the grand scheme of things. The former was hit with a 12lb rise for a wide margin win at Cheltenham back in October and whilst that rise was warranted, this looks a much deeper contest. The latter is a bit of an unknown quantity on just his fourth hurdles start having eased to victory in an uncompetitive Lingfield novice hurdle last time out. He is clearly going the right way though and is likely better than a 127-rated animal but this may be just too much of a challenge for him at this stage of his progression.


    COEUR DE LION? 1pt e/w @ 11/1 (bet365) (1/4 odds)

    2.25 Newbury ? Ladbrokes Intermediate Hurdle (Limited Handicap) (Listed Race)

    Favourite for this open-looking handicap is Charli Parcs, who has been held in high regard by trainer Nicky Henderson. He has only had the three runs in Britain after winning on debut in France, but he made a big impression when successful at the Kempton Winter Festival last year. Sent off as favourite that day, he cruised through the race and won easily without coming off the bridle as he beat Alan King?s Master Blueyes by eight lengths. Next time out he was stepped up to Grade 2 level for the Adonis Hurdle at the same course. However, the four-year-old was making his challenge when falling two obstacles from home. Charli Parcs was still aimed at the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and finished a creditable sixth despite racing keenly early-on. He looks likely to make a bold bid if ready to go on his first run of 17/18.

    High Bridge, formerly trained by John Ferguson, has built up a good record over hurdles for Ben Pauling as he has won three races from his five starts. He completed a hat-trick last year before going on to finish down the field in the Supreme Novices? Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. The six-year-old got back on track on his first run of the 17/18 campaign when he was third in a Listed handicap at Ascot at the start of November. This was a good effort to finish two lengths behind Alan King?s Elgin, who has since gone on to land the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham. He is a course and distance winner and can run his race again this weekend.

    Preference is for MOUNT MEWS who brings Grade 1-placed form into the race having finished runner-up in the Top Novices? Hurdle at Aintree to end last season for trainer Malcolm Jefferson. He was sent off favourite that day after previously winning a Grade 2 at Kelso by a wide-margin forty-nine lengths, but the race wasn?t run to suit. They only went at a steady pace and the six-year-old made up good ground but could not get to the winner, the Colin Tizzard-trained Pingshou. On MOUNT MEWS? seasonal reappearance, he travelled nicely into the class 2 Scottish Champion Hurdle Trial but then could not manage to give the weight away on the heavy ground, finishing third. He can build on that effort on ground not as testing on Saturday before going onto challenge back up in grade.

    Others to note include course and distance winner Poppy Kay who was successful in a class 3 at the track at the start of November. She travelled strongly into the race that day and won comfortably in the end. The seven-year-old now has a record of three wins from six over hurdles but will need to step up again to be involved here. Paul Nicholls is represented by Amour De Nuit who has had a progressive year over hurdles. The five-year-old has won four races from nine starts in 2017 and has shown improved form since starting out again in September. He finished a close second to Fergal O?Brien?s Poetic Rhythm in the Grade 2 Persian War at Chepstow before gaining Listed success at Kempton when last seen in October. However, those performances came on good ground so conditions may not suit him on Saturday.


    MOUNT MEWS ? 2pts win @ 9/2 (bet365)

    3.00 Newbury ? Ladbrokes Trophy Chase (Handicap) (Grade 3)

    One of the most important factors associated with what was formerly known as the Hennessy Gold Cup is proven stamina especially given the demanding nature of the test that the twenty one runners are likely to face. Only Madison Du Berlais and Many Clouds had not previously recorded a victory over 3m or further prior to coming here. Of this year?s field, the only one with slight question marks over his stamina is Whisper who has yet to win beyond 2m5f over fences. However, he was only beaten a nose in the RSA over 3m in March and having also won two Grade 1 hurdles over 3m, I am happy to give him the benefit of the doubt.

    With six of the last ten winners taking part in their second season over fences, it is advisable to follow this group of horses. These horses tend to improve between their first and second season chasing and are often able to exploit their handicap mark at this time of year. This applies to many of those towards the head of the market with the likes of American, Singlefarmpayment and Total Recall all embarking on their second season over the bigger obstacles.

    This also means that younger horses have tended to do well here over the years. To narrow it down, six and seven-year-olds have been the group to follow having been successful in seven of the last ten renewals, with the seven-year-olds accounting for five of those victories. Just over half of this year?s field fall into the desired bracket, the eight seven-year-olds American, Royal Vacation, Singlefarmpayment, Present Man, Missed Approach, Potters Legend, Southfield Royale and Pilgrims Bay and the three six-year-olds in the race, Label Des Obeaux, A Genie In Abottle and Braqueur D?Or.

    Good recent form is also something that has stood horses in good stead over the years, in fact eight of the last ten winners had achieved a top-three finish on their most recent start. It is probably fair to say that this is usually more a reflection of their ability than race fitness, with the likes of Trabolgan, State Of Play and Denman all having won this race on their seasonal debut. Nevertheless just under half of the field come here with the desired form credentials although the likes of Coneygreem Vyta Du Roc and Potters Legend all fall at this obstacle.

    Although it would be easy to think that a lower weight would be better, time has proven that may not be the case as eight of the last ten winners have carried 11st or more to victory. This is a strong trend and those falling on the right side of the divide this year are the top five as they appear in the racecard, so from Coneygree to Label Des Obeaux.

    The final factor to warrant some consideration is the strength of the betting market in recent years. Eight of the last ten winners of the Hennessy have come from the first six in the betting and therefore those towards the head of this year?s market should be favoured. There is scope to look for value in the race but with only two winning SPs greater than 10/1 in the last decade, it would be sensible not to look too far away from the market principals.


    AMERICAN ? 6/6

    A Genie In Abottle ? 5/6

    Singlefarmpayment ? 5/6


    With all things considered, there is only one horse who matches all six of our trends and that is AMERICAN. Harry Fry?s seven-year-old has won all three of his starts over the larger obstacles, his most recent victory coming over 3m at Uttoxeter in March. He should have more to offer this term and his trainer is more than capable of getting one ready first time out. He has gone up 9lb for his latest win but should be open to more improvement this term and he looks to have a leading chance.

    Just missing out on the top spot is A Genie In Abottle who on 10st 13lb sits just below the desired mark in terms of weight. However, there is plenty to like about this six-year-old who was third in a Grade 1 back in April and has won his first two starts of this campaign. You do have to go all the way back to 1980 to find the last Irish-trained winner of this race but he is clearly in fine form at present and looks likely to play a major role.

    The shortlist is completed by Singlefarmpayment who was just touched off in the Ultima Handicap Chase at Cheltenham in March. Tom George?s seven-year-old was far from disgraced on his seasonal reappearance at Cheltenham in October and he appeals most of those towards the bottom of the weights.


    AMERICAN ? 1pt e/w @ 7/1 (bet365) (5 places 1/4 odds)

    3.35 Newbury ? Ladbrokes Handicap Chase

    This looks a very good renewal of this race, run over an extended two-mile trip and has plenty of contenders involved who look better than just handicappers.

    Top weight, Just Cameron, has been a cracking servant for trainer Micky Hammond and is back to his last winning mark ? he won at Wetherby over this trip carrying 11st 12lb back in January on a similar surface. Conditions, trip and quality of race will be no problem for this solid horse, while Brian Hughes? assistance is always a positive, however, the big problem would be better-handicapped rivals and progressive types who might just go past him.

    Overtown Express is the current favourite at the time of writing and Harry Fry?s nine-year-old is hugely unexposed for a horse his age. He?s had just four runs over fences in his career so far and a mark of 141 might well be generous, even though he?ll almost certainly come on for the run after almost 300 days off the track. His win in heavy ground at Warwick off a mark of 134 was impressive but you can?t help but feel that this ex-pointer would prefer a bit of extra distance in ground such as this ? there may be a couple of horses who can quicken up better than this lad.

    Tom George?s Baby King was a last-gasp winner last time out at Aintree, when being produced very late to win by a very small margin in soft ground. A 3lb rise shouldn?t be enough to stop him here and the ground should be fine so a big run is undoubtedly expected. However, he?s 3lb worse off for less than two lengths with the Nicky Richards-trained DUKE OF NAVAN, who has been very lightly raced over the past couple of years. He?ll surely have come on plenty for that run at Aintree and the booking of Davy Russell looks an extremely significant one. A mark of 140 definitely looks exploitable given that he?s run very well after long absences off that same mark the last twice, while the ground and trip are his optimum. Richards doesn?t often send his horses this far south, especially to Newbury, so this out-of-the-ordinary trip and unusual jockey booking have to be taken serious note of.

    Speaking of Nickys, Mr Henderson has Theinval running in this and the seven-year-old was a first-fence faller at Cheltenham on his last race in the BetVictor Gold Cup. He?s usually a good jumper and this trip will suit nicely, so he looks set to bounce back. The main worry would be the ground ? he loves nice quick ground and this slightly soft, sticky surface might not be ideal, even though he does drop back to two miles, rendering stamina no problem. Still, a mark of 146 is certainly a workable one, even though he does have to give weight to many of his rivals.

    Finally, Marracudja deserves a mention for Paul Nicholls ? the six-year-old surely has improvement to come and has been second or third in five of his last six runs, so consistency is certainly not an issue. However, he hasn?t really shaped like a winner in waiting of a race of this nature, so while he may have time on his side, he might not be up to winning this just yet.


    DUKE OF NAVAN ? 1pt win @ 5/1 (William Hill, Ladbrokes, Paddy Power)
  2. akimba's Avatar

    akimba said:

    Default Re: Newburys Winter Carnival Day 2 - Saturday 2/12/2017

    Was there :-) but the only winner I had was Overtown Express in the last which I got a 15/2 before it was backed down to around 4-1 ;-)