It’s Betfair Hurdle Day at Newbury, with four pattern races on the Berkshire track’s card backed up by the Kingmaker Novices’ Chase at Warwick and a Listed mares’ chase at Naas.
There is also all-weather action on the level, but we go for two very majestic sounding horses at Newbury and Warwick to get us going over the jumps, beginning with the high quality Denman Chase.
2.25 Newbury (Denman Chase – Grade 2) – ROYALE PAGAILLE
After winning last year’s Peter Marsh Chase in fine fashion, it was decided that Royale Pagaille should be thrust right into the Gold Cup mix.
He remains very highly thought of in the Venetia Williams yard and managed a repeat success in the Peter Marsh three weeks ago off 11st10lbs.
He can get to the 170 level now before heading back to Cheltenham, which puts him very close to what is expected these days of Clan Des Obeaux.
There have been some worries about the form of the Paul Nicholls yard too, which adds doubts to the chances of Clan Des Obeaux. Imperial Aura and Eldorado Allen don’t look good enough, meaning there is not a whole lot of competition in the field making anything above 2/1 or so look value for Royale Pagaille.
3.15 Warwick (Handicap Chase) – THE KING OF MAY
Brian Ellison’s team has been going well of late and his The King Of May could add to the recent haul with a win in this two-and-a-half-mile handicap chase.
If likely favourite Celebre D’Allen can transfer his fine British hurdling form to fences he may be tough to beat, but on his French form he wouldn’t look to have too much in hand in all truth.
The King Of May on the other hand is in confirmed fine form and his stable has done even better since he last ran 29 days ago.
Sent off at 9/2 under Brian Hughes in a Class 3 event at Sedgefield, he jumped and stayed on well to beat Road Warrior convincingly, a horse who was a last-time-out winner and who has been runner-up twice more since.
The Sedgefield form can often be overlooked, while his 7lbs rise in the weights still leaves him 4lbs lower than his peak rating.
3.35 Newbury (Betfair Hurdle – Grade 3) – TRITONIC
With novices tending to do well, the likes of Jpr One and Broomfield Burg have been well backed for this event and can indeed go very well.
Last year’s winner Soaring Glory may have a little too much to do at the weights, while Boothill and Jetoile may be well handicapped and cannot be overlooked.
The one I like best is Tritonic. Just last year Alan King’s runner was sent off at 4/1 third-favourite for the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham and we all know he is a talent.
Despite having had seven hurdle runs to date which have added vital racing experience, he undoubtedly has plenty more to come as a five-year-old and was a Grade 3 winner at Ascot in similar conditions to what he faces this weekend as recently as December.
6.15 Wolverhampton (Novice Stakes) – DECIDUOUS
Charlie Appleby should be considered the undisputed no.1 Flat trainer in Britain right now, backed up by some fantastically bought and bred Godolphin runners.
In this low-key novice race over a mile-and-a-half, it’s fair to say his latest three-year-old debutant Deciduous probably isn’t one of the stable’s leading lights. But, while the big-hitters are doing their thing out in Dubai the yard continues to go well in Britain.
Deciduous’s half-brother ran to a mark of around 80+ on debut as a juvenile, so given this gelding is by Dubawi and is a little older, we can expect at least that from him if not more which would be common for an Appleby first-time runner.
The others have all run before, with Wendell’s Lad perhaps the only one who looks capable of improving enough to challenge should the selection do what is expected first time on the track. Benedict Wildes is next on the list.
7.15 Wolverhampton (Handicap) – CAROLINE DALE
This is a good quality Class 2 five-furlong sprint on the Tapeta. Lord Riddiford is proven at this level, while likely favourite Existent was very sharp in winning at Chelmsford last time out.
Moving from the Essex track to this one adds doubts to the chances of the market leader however, though there are no such uncertainties about fellow four-year-old Caroline Dale who is very much on the way up for David Loughnane.
Other than taking in two novice events, the filly has not raced outside of Class 3 level in her career to date, running third in the 2020 Queen Mary as well as a Listed race along the way.
More recently she was a taking winner at Southwell over the minimum trip on her first start since having had a wind operation and she would appear to have plenty in hand versus her official handicap mark.