Most eyes will be on Cheltenham today as the International meeting reaches a crescendo however some of the shrewdies will be looking elsewhere for value for money and that’s what we’re doing here.
We have a mixed bag of jumps and Flat action this week, Doncaster hosting our National Hunt tips while Newcastle’s increasingly popular all-weather track provides us with some opportunities on the level.
Backing winners and making a profit is the name of the game so while we of course will be keeping a close eye on matters down in the Cotswolds, the north is where we hope to make our financial gains:
12.55 Newcastle (2m Stayers’ Conditions Stakes) – FESTIVAL OF AGES
The solid one here on all known form is Mark Johnston’s Watersmeet though he may yet prove vulnerable to an up-and-coming stayer and so with that in mind Godolphin’s Festival Of Ages may yet prove to be a shrewd bet.
Charlie Appleby can call on James Doyle this time which is a plus, though even under Adam Kirby this lightly raced 4yo did well to reel in his opposition at Kempton last time out, looking the part in the process.
That was over only a mile-and-a-quarter but this step right up to two miles would appear to be right up his alley to me and so he’s taken to score ahead of Watersmeet and Higher Power.
2.10 Doncaster (2m Handicap Hurdle) – EQUUS AMADEUS
Tom Lacey’s runner was down the field at Cheltenham last time out but may appreciate a return to this sort of track as he looks to score for the second time in three races.
The five-year-old kept on really well to the line at Wincanton back in October and has a profile of a horse improving overall. Previous good performances over further than this trip means he should once again run all the way to the wire and that could count for plenty today, even over the minimum trip.
Henry Brooke’s mount Irish Roe may well be the one to give him most to do on this occasion but hopefully he’ll be fighting for place money only with our boy out in front.
2.45 Doncaster (Summit Juvenile Hurdle – Grade 2) – QUEL DESTIN
As much as I like the look of Cracker Factory for the medium to long term, Alan King’s runner has been beaten a couple of times recently when in with a major chance and so despite his consistency he has his limitations.
The one to be on this time then may well be Paul Nicholls’ charge Quel Destin who comes into this race on a hat-truck, none of us yet having any real idea how good he is.
Arguably his best run on the book came back in May at Auteuil when he was trained in France and so his winning form on these shores has been achieved with fairly minimal effort. More can be expected today and we should see a much more rounded animal.
3.15 Newcastle (1m EBF Novice Stakes) – FABULIST
John Gosden is loving this surface at Newcastle and has sent the likes of Enable, Stradivarius, Emaraaty and the winner of this race last year Without Parole all to score at the track in recent times.
He may well repeat the Gosforth Park trick with Bjorn Nielsen’s Fabulist, a very well bred type by Dubawi out of a Sadler’s Wells mare. The juvenile could be set for fancy things next year and should be ready for this debut given that he’ll have been on the go in training for some time.
In what looks a decent race Rab Havlin’s mount may have expensive types Farzeen and Approach The City along with already gelded Charlie Appleby horse Enchanting Man to beat.
3.50 Newcastle (7f Handicap Stakes) – POLYBIUS
In a race that has cut up we may not get the sort of price I’d been expecting about this horse, but nonetheless Polybius remains backable for David Simcock and James Doyle.
Strictly speaking his very best form is about three years behind him now, but having shown his well being when winning at Kempton in October there is clearly life in the seven-year-old yet and his handicap mark remains not beyond him.
Three-year-old Tough Remedy will be popular in the ring having won recently at Wolverhampton to make it 2-2 on this surface, though the old boy may just have his measure.