No shocks at the 48-hour declaration stage for the inaugural Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury on Saturday and 21 are due to go to post for the former Hennessy Gold Cup with Total Recall of Willie Mullins heading the market at 5/1 with BetVictor with Harry Fry’s American 13/2, Singlefarmpayment 7s and A Genie In Abottle 10/1.
A wonderful day’s racing at Newbury this afternoon and the Grade 2 2m 4f Novices’ Chase sees the top-class hurdlers Yanworth and Willoughby Court (1.50) go head-to-head with marginal preference for the latter who is 2/1 with BetVictor.
Yanworth came down at Exeter last time although he jumped the fence well enough and just landed steeply. If that has not dented his confidence he must go close but I am a massive Willoughby Court fan and he will be much more at home going left-handed than on chase debut at Huntingdon. The selection jumped moderately and out to his left on his first start over fences but still beat a very good mare, Casablanca Mix, who has subsequently gone one better in a decent Mares’ only contest.
Willoughby Court has a very high cruising speed and is a very exciting novice although I thought he jumped a bit low at some of his fences. He is currently 12/1 for the RSA Chase and 14s for the JLT at BetVictor. Monalee and Finian’s Oscar have already set a very high standard so far this season and are worthy favourites for those Festival races but Yanworth and Willoughby Court are both potentially top class novices.
In the Grade 2 Long Distance Hurdle, the mare Colin’s Sister is penalised for her recent Wetherby success and that will make life difficult for her although at 12/1 she would have been the each way selection had it not been for her 6lbs impost.
Unowhatimeanharry is another who carries a penalty and it will be hard for him to give 6lbs to Thistlecrack (3.00) who reverts to timber for his seasonal reappearance for Colin Tizzard. The former World Hurdle winner won the King George at Kempton on Boxing Day but hasn’t been seen on the track since losing his unbeaten chase record to the ill-fated Many Clouds at Cheltenham in January.
The selection is nine rising ten and it will be fascinating to see if his spell fencing and absence from the track have blunted his speed, but he is one of the great staying hurdlers of the last twenty years and at Even money with BetVictor he gets the vote despite giving up race fitness to Unowwhtimeanharry.
In the opener, I think there are races to be won with Admiral Barratry who may not have got home over 2m 3f at Fontwell last time but travelled like the best horse in the race. Keep an eye on him although perhaps not in these deep waters.
Black Op went off market leader for the Aintree Bumper for Tom George and makes his hurdles debut this afternoon. He looks the best of the hurdling debutants but Lost In Translation (12.20) can make it third time lucky for Colin Tizzard having travelled well over C&D last time before losing out to a smart Henderson novice. He can put his experience to good use although he will get further in time.
Bigmartre, who did us a favour at Ludlow on his seasonal debut, and Hell’s Kitchen are respected in the Novices’ Limited handicap Chase but the mare Dusky Legend (12.50) caught a tartar at Bangor last time in a listed contest and is taken to go one better this afternoon.
The selection has a good record at Newbury and I felt she jumped well in defeat in north Wales last time. Her critics will tell you she has not won in over a year, but has run some excellent races in defeat and this looks a good opportunity for her.
Icing On The Cake is a fascinating runner making his seasonal reappearance for Oliver Sherwood in the 2m 4f handicap chase and he is worth more than a second glance to see if the market speaks in his favour. Marginal preference, however, goes to Dan Skelton’s Oldgrangewood (2.25) who has been dropped a couple of pounds despite running a very good race at Aintree in the Old Roan last time.
There is also a terrific card at Doncaster this afternoon and Master Burbridge is likely to be all the rage with Jamie Codd coming across from Ireland for the mount. The Fresh Prince is likely to improve on his seasonal reappearance but I am hoping that Monbeg River (2.00) can take this for Martin Todhunter having been left on the same mark as when finishing runner up at Wetherby last time.
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