Altior makes his return to two miles in the Game Spirit Chase at Newbury and in all honest, he should be more than capable of winning that contest before drastically shortening his odds for a third Queen Mother Champion Chase next month.
He’s no price on the day though, neither is former Gold Cup winner Native River in the Denman Chase and so we concentrate efforts elsewhere, both on the flat and over jumps during what is a busy weekend promising to give us plenty of opportunities.
2.05 Warwick (Kingmaker Novices’ Chase – Grade 2) – TORPILLO
Nigel Twiston-Davies’ Torpillo gets into this race with a little weight advantage and, as a course and distance winner on soft going, may yet represent some decent value in what is a bona fide Arkle Trophy trial race.
The likely favourite is Dan Skelton’s Nube Negra who is indeed on an upward curve having won easily twice, including here, before being beaten narrowly in the Grade 1 Henry VIII Novices’ Chase, but he may struggle to hold off the selection this time.
On a line through Mister Fisher, who he beat at Warwick, and given the fact that he was a solid favourite in the Henry VIII himself, there is every reason to believe Torpillo has enough at these weights to get his head in front and so he gets the nod.
The likes of Precious Cargo, a beaten favourite last time for Nicky Henderson who is clearly capable of better yet, and Harry Whittingdon’s Wayward Lad runner-up Rogue Vif may also be sniffing around at the business end of the race at least for place money.
2.20 Lingfield (Handicap) – CORAZON ESPINADO
Trainer Simon Dow was quick to book crack all-weather jockey Luke Morris once again for his last-time-out winner Corazon Espinado, a five-year-old who just seems to be getting better and better as time goes on.
He is not improving in huge lumps race by race by any means, however he’s only been given a rise of 2lbs for his last course and distance success and given that his speed figure puts him ahead of this opposition and with the prospect of more to come seeming likely, he looks a safe bet to land another handicap prize.
Andrew Balding’s four-year-old Spirit Warning has a live chance too if stripping fit enough having been off the track for some 147 days. His best speed figures have come over this trip and on quick going too, something that usually bodes well at Lingfield, while his current handicap mark of 89 does not accurately represent his true ability making him potentially well-in.
Kuwait Currency would not be without a chance at the weights while Goring is another to consider for place money.
2.40 Warwick (Warwick Mares’ Hurdle – Listed Race) – INDEFATIGABLE
While more could come from Rebecca Curtis’ Legends Gold who has a year on the selection and was a winner last time showing the promise of more improvement, the safe call in this race is definitely Indefatigable and she is backed to get back on the winning trail herself.
Paul Webber’s seven-year-old mare won at Cheltenham in the spring but has had a solid if unspectacular season this far, though overall she remains on the upgrade and finds herself in conditions that should suit her down to the ground.
Second in a competitive mares’ handicap hurdle back at Prestbury park in December, her overall profile marks her out as the best of this bunch considering this extra furlong should really bring out the best in her.
Coded Message, Copper Gone West and the returning Cap Soleil are all capable and could find it out for the places, but hopefully nothing more.
3.30 Lingfield (Handicap) – EXPRESSIONIST
The solid one here, and certainly the benchmark over this course and distance, is Archie Watson’s Electric Ladyland who is three from five on the all-weather and so of course she had to be carefully considered.
Her last win however was over five furlongs at Chelmsford and she was beaten around here last time so she is certainly vulnerable, especially to Charlie Appleby’s Expressionist who looked a real player when winning on debut as a juvenile last May at Ascot.
He didn’t really confirm his promise last season, but he’s now been gelded and comes from a yard that knows exactly how to get them ready first time up for the year.
On breeding and on what ability he showed in the spring it seems he’d be capable of being a 100+ horse for sure, making his current mark of 89 look a little short of his real ability and so it would be no surprise to see him score on his reappearance.
4.10 Newbury (Handicap Chase) – REDZOR
There is of course a lot to consider when ploughing through a novice handicap chase, but on all known evidence the safest play is likely to be Dan Skelton’s Redzor.
Having really fancied Shannon Bridge at the original entry stage for the same yard, I’d like to think the trainer knows what it may take to land this contest and Redzor looks more than just a substitute.
Highest Sun may well be sent off favourite for this event, but Colin Tizzard’s runner has earned his recent reputation mostly getting beaten and winning a two-runner race on the heavy at Plumpton, arguably giving him the look of a bookies’ favourite.
The wildcard could well be Paul Nicholls’ Mont Des Avaloirs who retains potential, though his most recent appearances aren’t overly inspiring in all honesty.