As a prelude to tomorrow’s main action, ITV are covering 4 races from Newbury this afternoon, with 2 Grade 2 races topped and tailed by a couple of quality handicaps.

The Ladbrokes ‘Where The Nation Plays’ Novices Chase at 2.25 has an irritating title (we prefer The Berkshire) but also a high class field of Novice Chasers headed by the progressive Champ.

Beaten just once in its Novice Hurdle season and that in no less a race than the Ballymore at the Cheltenham Festival, Nicky Henderson‘s charge made¬† satisfactory chasing debut on this course earlier this month, beating today’s re-opposing Dashel Drasher by an eventually comfortable 3+ lengths.

Visually impressive it was not, however, at least in our opinion and although sure to come on for that outing, at 4-5 we just cannot suggest you back it.

Alan King‘s runner, Deyrann de Carjac is our idea of a sporting play in this race at a juicy 12-1.

Something to find on official ratings, this 6-y-o has long been the Granny Chase Smith of Mr King’s optic and, in its two chases to date, begun to fulfil the high expectations. In beating Pym by an easy 3+ lengths, giving away 5lbs, DDC hinted it could be a lot better than the assessor’s figure of 143, especially when you bear in mind that Pym won a handicap next time out and is now rated 149.

We suggest you have a small each way bet and a lot of optimism.

The other Graded race at 3.00, the Ladbrokes Long Distance Hurdle sees Paisley Park installed as the 8-13 favourite and frankly my dears, we are not about to take it on, content to just watch it win.

At 1.50 the Get Your Ladbrokes ¬£1 Free Bet Today Handicap Chase has a field of 12, headed by Kalashnikov at 5-2. The question about Amy Murphy‘s horse is simply ‘is it as good as they think it is?’ and we’ll go a long way to find out later today.

On balance, we are going to oppose and suggest each way bets on Old Grangewood at 11-2 and Azzerti at 9-1.

Old Grangewood won this very race two years ago off a mark of 145 and runs today off 135, so the handicapping perspective is obvious. Having had a disappointing season last year, a wind op seems to have solved that problem and OG can get back on track this afternoon.

Azzerti is a reformed character this year and has stopped being a nutter, borne out by its smooth win over CD 22 days ago. Off just 4lbs higher, the best is yet to come.

Last race of the day is at 3.35, when 18 runners compete in the Ladbrokes Handicap Hurdle over 3m and our primary selection in this is Dolphin Square, the mount of Mr David Maxwell.

It was Steven Leacock who wrote that ‘Sir Roderick leapt on his horse and rode off madly in all directions’ and watching dear David ride is a bit like that. However, there is no doubt that horses run for him and in Dolphin Square he has a horse which is undoubtedly well in for its handicap debut. The official assessor has taken retrospective action and, if this race took place tomorrow, Dolphin Square would be saddled with an extra 6lbs. At 5-1 this looks a decent each way punt.

We also think that Captain Tommy has a decent chance on its second appearance in a handicap, the first being under atrocious and attritional conditions at Cheltenham. Take the 12-1 on offer.

Back tomorrow and we’re gonna call it ‘The Hennessey’.


Deyrann de Carjac 2.25 Newbury 1pt e/w @ 12-1 (2 places)

Old Grangewood 1.50 Newbury 1.5pts e/w @ 11-2 (4 places SkyBet)

Azzerti 1.50 Newbury 1pt e/w @ 9-1 (4 places SkyBet)

Dolphin Square 3.35 Newbury 2.5pts e/w @ 5-1 (6 places SkyBet)

Captain Tommy 3.35 Newbury 1pt e/w @ 12-1 (6 places SkyBet)

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