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Last weekend, we saw the reemergence of Cue Card as a threat over the middle disatnces when he took out the big chase at Ascot. It was an imperious performance, where he completely trounced Silviniaco Conte, as well as half the field he dominated in the Charlie Hall a few weeks prior. The was the real highlight of the weekend, and it’s great to see a quality horse like Cue Card finally showing some of the skill we all know he has. Last weekend, we ended up with a loss of exactly 7 units, which takes our profit down to +17.23 units, after ten weeks of free horse racing tips.
Two Saturday meetings covered by Channel Four Racing again this week, and, as always, you’ll get free horse racing tips for all the televised races. We’ve got five races from Newbury, with the Long Distance Hurdle a quality warm-up for the Hennessy Gold Cup. We also have two racaes from Newcastle, with the Fighting Fifth Hurdle and the Rehearsal Chase two great races for us to get stuck into from the north east of England. Just as aside I have great memories of being at Newcastle racecourse, and watching the great Harchibald do the business. In my opinion, what they’re doing to Newcastle now with the all-weather is nothing short of an abomination, with the course steeped in history. Still, with some great jumps racing at the course, it’ll always have a place in the hearts of National Hunt racing fans.
As I always have to do, I need to remind you that our friends at Bet365 will give you the best price on every horse race shown live on Channel Four if you back it from 10am on the day of the race. That means you should wait until 10am Saturday and get the best price, as they will match their competitors. What could be better than best prices? Well, if you back a winner at 4/1 or more at Bet365 on any of the Channel Four races, you get a free bet that matches your stake on the winner for the next Channel Four race. So, back a winner of the 1:15 at Newbury for up to £50 and get free bet of up to £50 on the 1:50 at Newbury.
The first race of the day and we’ve got a big handicap chase over 2 miles 6 furlongs to start the day’s live action on Channel four Racing. 17 are currently declared for this, although if we see any more rain softening the ground, that might change.
Majala and Grandad’s Horse set the standards at the top of the handicap. Both seem to be out of form and out of luck when it comes to the weights. They need to come a long way down the handicap if they want to be troubling the places, I think.
Simply Wings sets a decent standard, but just remains a bit too inconsistent to be one you couuld be happy backing.
La Vaticane is of interest after a stuttering debut in British racing at Cheltenham a few weeks back. However, I’m still unconvinced that David Pipe’s yard has turned the corner. He’s one to follow in the betting, though, if there is market support it’s worth having a little dabble.
However, the one that is of real interest is Si C’Etait Vrai for Neil Mulholland. He had some big wins in Ireland, the ground isn’t going to be an issue for him, and the distance isn’t going to be a problem either. Mulholland and Fehily are in fine form at the moment, and this could be an exciting prospect for the coming season. The only downside is that he’s been off the course for almost 650 days. But I trust the trainer to have him right, and we should see a big run.
Aloomomo has obviously gone well this season and is looking for a hattrick, but the handicapper might just have caught up with him.
Next up from Newbury, it’s a 2 mile 2 furlong handicap hurdle. 9 runners going to post for this, and again, if we see more rain falling, we could see some a non-runner or two, so keep that in mind.
It’s weird seeing Laurium in this one, after a big run in the novice hurdle at Cheltenham at the end of October. He found a real smart one in the form of Penglai Pavilion that day, and although there’s nothing of that class in this field, he’s the top weight, he might just struggle to give a lot of weight away on the softening ground at Newbury. He’s definitely classy, but everything might just be against him in this race.
Dubawi Island is another one that’s flying up the handicap, and he’s another classy sort, although perhaps not in the class of Laurium. Is as close as 3lbs to him? I don’t think so. Again, I think he’s just a bit too high up the handicap for my liking here, on this potentially sapping ground.
Ma Filleule (NB) will attract a lot of support and seems the choice of Nicky Henderson on jockey booking, but I just think he’s being prepped for chasing still. However, there’s no denying he’s the class act in the race, and he has a warm-up run, so I think the time is right now for Ma Filleule to get in front over hurdles.
The Fighting Fifth, it’s the traditional 2 miles, the ground is soft at Newcastle and will no doubt be softening all the time. 7 runners will be going to post, so expect tactics, tactics and more tactics.
Top Notch and Irving are set to do battle again after last week’s showdown at Haydock. Irving came out better last week, and showed a lot of guts to win. Top Notch will have needed that run, no doubt, but I think Irving is just a shade classier, at least on this ground.
Beltor is having his first run since this year’s Triumph Hurdle, where he finished sixth. He’s going to absolutely love the ground, and will chew it up. Beltor might need the run, though, and was a fair bit behind Top Notch in the Triumph.
Purple Bay disappointed last time out, but can be forgiven as it was his first time out this season.
Wicklow Brave has been running non-stop this year, on the flat and under rules, so it might just be a hit too much for him in such a high-class field. He did get within a length of Faugheen, though, so it’s worth keeping that in mind. But I think it’s safe to see Faugheen wasn’t at his best that day.
Purple Bay is the pick here. I just think he needed that run last time out, and should come on for it. Irving and Top Notch had a tough race last week, and this might just be coming a bit too soon, especially on such testing ground.
The Long Distance Hurdle is run over 3 miles and it’s a seriously hot race, even though there’s only 5 runners going to post.
World Hurdle winner Cole Harden makes his seasonal bow, and should go well here. He was second in this race last year, so should obviously go well.
Whisper (NAP) was my pick for the World Hurdle at this year’s Cheltenham Festival, but he disappointed, finishing fifth. However, he turned it round at Aintree and beat Cole Harden impressively. He’s also got course and form, and the ground isn’t going to pose a problem, as he’s won on heavy ground in the past. The one downside is that he’s not the greatest fresh, but it’s a big race so you would assume Nicky Henderson has him right for it.
Thistlecrack and Aqualim also have their chances, but they really do need to find something with the two top long-distance hurdlers. Deputy Dan is really the only one that we can write out with real confidence, though. But seriously, this is going to be a seriously hot race and will give us some pointers for next year’s Cheltenham Festival.
The Rehearsal Chase is up next, 2 miles and 7 furlongs on stamina-sapping ground at Newcastle, so this is going to be for true stayers only. 12 are currently declared, and I have no doubt one or two will fall by the wayside before the off tomorrow afternoon.
Virak was hotly fancied last time out, but disappointed at Ascot. It was a far classier race, for sure, but the problem is that he’s giving away pounds to the entire field, and in a race like this, I don’t think he’s that kind of classy horse than can give that much away. If I’m proved wrong, he’ll have completed a mammoth task. He’s the best horse in the race, but the handicapper knows that.
Wakanda has the form on the ground, has a win under his belt for this season already and has some good form in the book. His second place at Newcastle in February over this distance reads well enough, even though Voyage A New York disappointed. He’s getting 8lbs from Viark and that should be more than enough.
At the bottom of the handicap, Saroque looks interesting from the in-form Venetia Williams stable, but it’s a real step up in class. I wouldn’t be put off having a small wager on him, though, if it wasn’t for strongly fancying Wakanda.
It’s the feature race of the day, the Hennessey Gold Cup, a handicap chase over 3 mile 1 furlong.
This is all about Saphir Du Rheu, no doubt about it. The classy dual hurdler/chaser is the top weight, and he’s definitely the best horse in the race. He won comfortably last time out, smashing The Young Master by 7 lengths, giving him 4lbs at Carlisle. This time, he’s giving 13lbs to The Young Master.
The Giant Bolster has had his time, it’s come and gone, and I can’t see him being too much trouble for Saphir Du Rheu now, especially at the age of 10.
Smad Place was 5th in this race last year, and he was off a lower mark then. Hard to see him being too much trouble either.
Bob’s Worth looked good last time out, but it was back over hurdles. Can he do it over fences? He’s off a 7lb lower mark than when he won this race in 2012, and definitely warrants a second look. The concern is obviously Saphir Du Rheu, but he’s getting 10lbs from the top weight. Add in that Saphir Du Rheu hasn’t set the world on fire around Newbury, and Bob’s Worth makes an appealing choice.
Last race of the day, a 2 mile handicap chase. 11 runners declared and a few we’ve seen recently on Channel Four Racing in various handicaps throughout the country.
Pearls Legend keeps on running decent races, but is still creeping up the handicap. The more he moves up, the harder it’s going to be to get the win. While running while, he’s yet to get his head in front, so that rise in the weight isn’t going to help.
Stellar Notion also looks to be a bit too high in the handicap. He’s been running in better races and going well enough, so obviously that’s the reason for the high handicap rating. But I think he needs to come down a bit to really challenge.
Lough Kent has form in the book, too, but he’s still weighted to be behind Pearls Legend after their last meeting. If I can’t see a reason for Pearls Legend, I can’t see one for Lough Kent.
Gardefort catches the eye, lightly raced over the last year or so, and is going to love the ground, having won on heavy ground on France. If you can win on heavy in France, softening ground at Newbury isn’t going to be a problem at all. As I mentioned earlier, Venetia Williams is going great guns already this season, so we have to get on the bandwagon at some point. Nicely down the handicap, too, which is a definite plus.