The daffs are already peeking through the snow and Seymour Biz has picked-out another 4 horses for Saturday, including a late-bloomer in the Warwick Castle Handicap Chase.
This week we have three jumps meetings, all located in the centre of the country so let’s hope the weather relents and the meetings are able to take place. The two TV meetings are at Newbury and Warwick, the seven races have three with small fields and odds on favourites, Altior, Native River and St.Calvados and I am sure there will be lots of high value trebles on these and that could prove very profitable for those with deep pockets. However there’s many a slip twixt cup and lip and in the small fields are plenty of “dark horses” ready to knock them off their perches. Altior (if Nicky Henderson runs him) faces Politologue and Fox Norton, Native River has Saphir Du Rheu, Cloudy Dream and Fountains Windfall as contestants and St.Calvados is up against North Hill Harvey. I suggest the last named challengers in each race look to have every chance, and could prove profitable. So let’s look at the other four races that have a few more runners with larger prices and see if there is any value to be found. The meeting at Newbury has produced some fine horses over the years, especially the Betfair Hurdle whose winners include, last year Ballyandy previously Splash Of Ginge, My Tent Or Yours, Get Me Out Of Here, Essex And Make A Stand. Looking at the runners for this year I do feel there is the same class on offer this time.
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The 1.50 at Newbury is the Betfair Cash Out Handicap Hurdle, a Class 2 race over three miles, which has attracted some good handicappers. Near the top of the weights is Barters Hill trained by Ben Pauling, he is also declared at Huntingdon on Thursday but I think this will be a preferable option. He is declared for the Stayers Hurdle at Cheltenham so this race would be ideal preparation, having not run for almost fifteen months. He had a run of seven victories before running forth behind Unowhatimeanharry in the Albert Bartlett two years ago, he was pulled up in his next race, a novice chase at Cheltenham in November 2016. You an be sure Pauling will not run Barters Hill unless he is fully fit. Jonjo O’Neill sends Noble Robin here, a dual winner, he is at the top of the betting but this step up in class may be too much for the seven year old. Higher in the betting I prefer King Uther who won at Warwick last time, he is not the worlds greatest jumper but is full of heart, Newbury will suit him. At an even bigger price Present Times is at the bottom of the handicap, he ran second last time after going down on his nose three out when going for a four timer, he must have a chance in this higher class. But a fully fit Barters Hill is the class act here and can show his superiority.
At 3.35 we can look forward to The Betfair Hurdle, the big race of the day. All the top trainers are represented with some high class horses but I look towards a smaller stable for my selection, Irish Roe trained by Peter Atkinson, a horse that has won his last four out of six. She ran second to Maria’s Benefit at Doncaster two weeks ago going down by 3/4 length, that was really good form. Lalor is the bookmakers favourite but has found one or two too good in his last three races and seems to have forgotten how to win. Jenkins had a tough race when winning three weeks ago and carries a five pound penalty for that victory, which could halt his charge. Higher in the betting is the novice Waterlord who has been running well this year for Donald McCain, a trainer who has come out of the doldrums with his horses improving. I also want to mention Verdana Blue who has had a break since the end of December, who stayed on at Ascot last time, he could well chase the selection home.
Over at Warwick at 2.05 is the olbg.com Mares’ Hurdle and Philip Hobbs sends Poppy Kay, the stable has been under a cloud recently but seems to be coming out of it now. He has had sixteen runners in the last fortnight with two winners and one placed but a victory for Poppy Kay will give the stable a nice boost. Her form is good, winning at Sandown in early January beating Midnight Jazz and she can come on for that victory. She is also declared for the Betfair Hurdle but is more likely to take this race on. Higher in the betting is Lamanver Odyssey who fell at Cheltenham in December, she was tracking the leaders when hitting three out and falling at the next. Harry Fry has rested her since then and worked on her jumping so she is ready to run a big race, but I back the Hobbs mare to take the honours.
At 3.15 is the All Cheltenham Live On RacingUK Warwick Castle Handicap Chase, a Class 2 race. The favourite here is Value At Risk trained by Dan Skelton, being blinkered for the first time last time out produced a victory at Doncaster, but more is needed here. Willie Boy is well fancied, he has an entry in the Ryanair, but that’s a way off yet. He was third last time out after a previous victory at Newbury and has been rested since December and is not without a chance. Kylemore Lough has been highly tried, going down to Un De Sceaux last time, but seems to have forgotten how to win. Templehills was giving eleven pounds to Pressurize when beaten by him last time the difference now is only one pound so he can reverse those placings but may not have enough to win. The one I do like is Casse Tete, his run at Cheltenham last time was not his best after he put his feet in the water on the back straight in a race won by Frodon. He won last March at Sandown in a race where Willie Boy fell and seems to be a horse who comes on later in the season, perhaps he’s looking forward to the spring – aren’t we all!
Saturday Lucky 15
1.50 Newbury – Barters Hill
3.35 Newbury – Irish Roe
2.05 Warwick – Poppy Kay
3.15 Warwick – Casse Tete
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