Seymour Biz is licking his lips, after perusing Saturday’s cards! There’s some brilliant televised action to look forward to, at both Newbury and Warwick. Here are your weekly Lucky 15 selections. Find all previous UK racing previews in his weekly column: Saturday Horse Racing Tips.
A tremendous meeting to look forward to at Newbury this Saturday where the highlight is the Betfair Hurdle. I have looked through this top handicap below and tried to pick out the best value in the race. The card also features another handicap hurdle but probably the highlight of the day are the two televised chases with the great Altior taking on Sceau Royal, Dynamite Dollars and Kalashnikov over 2 miles, then a 3 mile contest with Native River, Valdez and Might Bite in action. These are two action-packed races and will really give us some pointers towards the festival, perhaps Nicky Henderson will finally decide what he intends to do with Altior and also I would love to see Might Bite return to his best form and head to Cheltenham with a fighting chance. All this top class racing is backed up by a great Warwick card where Nube Negra, who I picked out as a 4-year-old as one of my Ten To Follow, will probably go off at a short price for the Kingmaker Chase. I would expect Dan Skelton’s classy gelding to oblige here on his way to the festival. There are two other races on offer from the Midlands course including an exciting looking Listed mares hurdle and I have covered that below, so here are my thoughts for this week’s Lucky 15.
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Starting at Warwick with the aforementioned St Mary’s Lands Warwick Mares’ Hurdle at 2.40 over 2m5f we have Paul Webber’s Indefatigable due to go off as favourite. She has been running very consistently this season without getting her head in front. She was defeated last time by Copper Gone West but on a quicker surface may be able to put in a better effort as Indefatigable’s second to Lady Buttons last December was a great bit of form. Dan Skelton’s French import Ch’ti Diamond looks an interesting newcomer as she has won on the continent but I think she is best watched at this stage in her career. Decent going may be against Coded Message as Ben Case’s mare has only ever won on soft or heavy going. Legends Gold has been progressive during the season with three victories for trainer Rebecca Curtis, latterly at Ludlow but this is a huge step up in class for her 6-year-old mare and she may have to settle for a place. This brings me back to Tim Vaughan’s Copper Gone West who was given an easy lead at Sandown last time and was only beaten home by hot favourite Silver Forever, if she deploys similar tactics she may well last up the short Warwick run-in and take this contest.
At 3.15 Warwick holds the Warwick Castle Handicap Chase over 2m4f. Paul Nicholls has the top weight and one of the favourites with Secret Investor but after running well at Down Royal in November when finishing second, he put in a useless performance at Cheltenham the following month when beaten 73 lengths. Gala Ball was a winner last time out for Phillip Hobbs at. Wincanton but he has been inconsistent previously and invariably has found one too good and that may well be the case here. Belami Des Pictons has had a poor season to date and has been unable to show the form of 2016/2017 for Venetia Williams and is best watched. Dr Richard Newland’s Katpoli has been winning some nice contests around the country and is still low in the handicap but this young horse may find it difficult against these experienced handicappers. My preference here is for Paul Nicholls’s Brelan d’As who will be looking to add to his two victories from last season at Haydock and Fakenham. He was a good second to Happy Diva at Cheltenham in November then next time out was well in touch at the same course when he stumbled badly three out and lost his chance. He can make recompense for that mistake here.
Moving south on the M40 and A34 to Newbury the first televised race is at 1.50, the Betfair Bet In-Play Handicap Hurdle. Nicky Henderson’s Welsh Saint is the bookmakers choice here and it is not surprising after his fine third at Cheltenham on New Years Day, that was on the back of his previous outing when he won at Warwick in heavy ground a fortnight before. Phillip Hobbs’s Dolphin Square was a winner at Ludlow in early January but is moving up in class here and his tendency to jump right on occasion will not suit him at Newbury. Star Of Lanka from Warren Greatrex’s yard has shown consistently good form this season by finishing in the first three in his three starts. His latest outing on Boxing Day at Kempton was particularly useful but he did wander about a bit before the last and that puts a question mark against him. Nick Williams’s One For The Team has shown improvement during the season and is another who has featured in the first three on his three starts. His run here at Newbury in November when beaten under a length was a fine performance behind Champers On Ice and his latest run at Warwick behind Silver Sheen showed him to be a future winner.
The big race of the day at 3.35 is the Betfair Hurdle, a Class 1 Handicap over 2 miles. The big fancy here is Mack The Man from Evan Williams’s yard who has won his last two races and looks a blot on the handicap. His trainer has kept him for this since he won at Sandown in early December but he only seems to do just enough and may be caught out here, also he may be backed down to short odds and represents little value. Nigel Twiston-Davies sends Stolen Silver here after his win at Haydock last month but he has a 5lb penalty for that victory and that may hold him back. Thebannerkingrebel is 9lb better off with Stolen Silver and should overcome the Haydock defeat where he finished third behind him but that may not be enough to take this. Not So Sleepy is having a great season for trainer Hughie Morrison, he made all last time at Ascot and had several of these protagonists behind him and I expect him to confirm those placings. He will go well here but will need some give in ground to show his best. Nicky Henderson’s Never Adapt saw off his rivals at Kempton last time but he is meeting a better class of animal here and would need to improve considerably, he is another who does not represent good value at his short price. I have a liking for Alan King’s Harambe, who he considers to be one of his best horses, King states “I’ve been aiming him at this since he was withdrawn at Ascot in December, he is fresh now and in good order”. Harambe won the Greatwood at Cheltenham in November and had several of these behind him, he can continue that fine form and take this.
Saturday Lucky 15
2.40 Warwick. Copper Gone West
3.15 Warwick. Brelan d’As
1.50 Newbury. One For The Team
3.35 Newbury. Harambe