by Jack Milner
Newcastle must pass an 8am inspection but it doesn’t look promising with the ground currently described as heavy and further rain forecast overnight. Should the card go ahead then Western Rules (1.55) should take all the beating in the opening Novices’ Hurdle over an extended two miles under regular partner Brian Harding. Nicky Richards’ well-bred son of Westerner beat Jonjo O’Neill’s promising Bronco Billy over two and a half miles on his second start over timber last month at Carlisle and can follow-up accordingly under a 7lb penalty.
Harding normally gets the leg up aboard Nicky Richards’ Sir Vinski (2.30) but Davey Russell has rode for connections before and partners the 7-y-o in the handicap hurdle over two and a half miles. The selection bids to concede weight all round but should be suited by the drop back in trip and can make it third time lucky this term after being dropped 2lb at the weights. The selection scored twice over the same trip last term and can claim a third success over timber.
A field of nine to go post for the feature 3m Handicap Chase with King of the Wolds a fascinating runner for the Malcolm Jefferson yard. The selection failed to stay longer trips in competitive handicap chases at both Carlisle and Haydock and is respected dropping back in trip under Brian Hughes. He has conditions to suit but so does Lucinda Russell’s One For Arthur (3.35) dropping back in grade under Peter Buchanan. The selection was far from disgraced when last seen finishing third in a Novices’ Chase behind subsequent Dipper winner Seeyouatmnidnight last month at Kelso and is a confident selection to concede weight all round and make a winning handicap chase debut from a lenient looking mark of 137.
At Kempton, Ben Pauling’s Ride on Time (1.05) must go close in the opener now reverting back over timber after an unsuccessful stint over fences and a beaten favourite in a warm pair of novices’ handicap chases. The well-bred son of Presenting was well-backed for both starts at Market Rasen over two and a half and three miles but still looks well–treated from a revised mark of 100 and is a confident each-way selection under regular partner Maurice Linehan.
Wait for Me (1.35) was far from fluent when shedding the maiden tag over timber last time out at Newbury but remains an excellent prospect for the Philip Hobbs yard and can follow-up under a penalty in the 1st Division of the 2m Novices’ Hurdle under Champion Jockey elect Richard Johnson. The selection was ear-marked by many as a leading candidate for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. The selection will appreciate the better ground after scoring in bottomless conditions last time out and is 20/1 with BetVictor to land the curtain-raiser at the festival in March.
Tom O’Brien keeps the ride aboard Hobbs’ Onenightinvienna (2.40) after his excellent efforts over fences at both Exeter and Cheltenham and he will take all the beating in the 3m Novices’ Chase. The selection immediately took to the larger obstacles beating Harry Fry’s Fletchers Flyer on chase debut at Exeter and bettered that when chasing home Blaklion in a G2 last month at Cheltenham. Padge is a fascinating runner for the Evan Williams yard after unseating last time out when soundly beaten behind More of That but was previously impressive winning over two and a half miles on his seasonal debut at Ascot.
Connections have Barakilla (3.45) in the feature handicap chase over two and a half miles and he must go close for the yard under Adam Wedge. The 9-y-o ran with credit on his seasonal debut at Taunton, finishing second over an inadequate trip, and then ran likewise when fourth a competitive handicap chase at Sandown. The handicapper has dropped him a pound for those efforts and he must remain competitive stepping up in trip.