Compensation for the dismal cricket performance hopefully awaits today with our musings on the televised meetings at Newbury and Doncaster.
Main action is at the Berkshire venue, from where there are five races to have a go at, starting with the MansionBet Handicap Chase at 1.25.
Favourite for this is Gallic Geordie, which has mopped up two Class 5 chases at Lingfield recently and is 6lbs ‘well in’ according to the Official Assessor.
Stepping up to a Class 3 with a 7lb penalty is, however, a different ball game and we prefer to suggest an each way bet on Doukarov.
Sean Curran‘s 6-y-o was a CD winner last time out and is just 3lbs higher today for a 7+ lengths victory. A winner of three from eleven chase starts, this looks the value at 5-1.
The MansionBet Handicap Hurdle at 2.00 sees the return to hurdling of the Grade 1 winning chaser Dashel Drasher, which is rated nearly a stone lower over the smaller obstacles. Unraced over hurdles for almost 3 years, this is either a shrewd move by Jeremy Scott or a prep for a future chase outing and, on balance, we think it’s the latter.
Our selection, therefore, is the talented Beauport, which ran such a promising comeback race when second at Sandown last month. First and third from that race have both won since and this 5-y-o rates a decent punt at 7-2.
Probably the most competitive race on the card is the Mandarin Handicap Chase at 2.35 with 13 due to line up.
Favourite is Richard Bandey‘s 4-y-o Saint Palais, which has won both starts this season, taking advantage of the hefty wfa allowance that youngsters get over fences. However, a ten pound hike and a much better race means that a price of 3-1 is not attractive and we prefer to have a real crack at this race with three each way picks.
Let’s begin with Nestor Park, which was beaten a neck in this race last year and is back for another go off just two pound higher. Frankly, the ‘prep’ run could have been better but Ben Pauling has had nearly two months to produce his pet in fine fettle so, at 11-2, this is a must each way bet.
We also like the chances of the fragile but talented Wayfinder, which is potentially a whole lot better than its mark of 115 and, although brought down on its comeback run, it was far enough into the race to have blown away the metaphorical cobwebs. At 8-1 this is an attractive bet.
Finally we just have to have a tad on Innisfree Lad, which stays all day, came right back to form last time out and is insultingly priced at 28-1.
The Challow Hurdle at 3.05 could well be a match between Stage Star and Lossiemouth, with our trusty pin landing on the latter.
Tom Lacey’s 6-y-o has improved leaps and bounds this season, unbeaten in three and graduating from handicaps with an easy win in a Grade 2 at Sandown at the beginning of this month. Softer the better for this one and it rates the value bet at 3-1.
Final race at Newbury is the MansionBet Novices Handicap Chase at 3.35 and the market is headed by the doughty Fern Hill at 5-2.
Ben Case‘s 6-y-o ran a tremendous race to be second from 7lbs out of the handicap on chasing debut and, although the handicapper took evasive action by raising the horse 6lbs, it can actually race off a pound lower mark. Any repeat of last time out’s heroics should see this one home and we recommend a decent bet.
Just two races covered at Doncaster and just the one holds our interest – that being the Sky Sports Handicap Chase at 2.50.
In selecting Cat Tiger to win this, we strongly recommend closing your eyes and just listening to the commentary. That way you can avoid watching David Maxwell‘s attempt to resemble a half-decent jockey.
Having said that, he’s on the best handicapped runner by a country mile and at just about an each way price, we have to give it a whirl.
A happy New Year to you all – back next year.
Doukarov 1.25 Newbury 1pt e/w @ 11-2 (4 places Hills/Skybet)
Beaufort 2.00 Newbury 2pts win @ 7-2
Nestor Park 2.35 Newbury 1.5pts e/w @ 11-2 (5 places Hills/Skybet)
Wayfinder 2.35 Newbury 1pt e/w @ 8-1 (5 places Hills/Skybet)
Innisfree Lad 2.35 Newbury 1pt e/w @ 28-1 (5 places Hills/Skybet)
Lossiemouth 3.05 Newbury 2pts win @ 3-1
Fern Hill 3.25 Newbury 3pts win @ 5-2
Cat Tiger 2.50 Doncaster 1.5pts e/w @ 9-2