Day 1 of the two day Newbury meeting this afternoon, with five races on ITV3 in between the footie.

We kick off with the Coral Novices’ Hurdle at 1.20, in which it’s best to, concentrate on the three at the head of the market.

Joint favourites at 5-2 are the representatives of Messrs Nicholls and Henderson, the former saddling an Irish Point winner in Stay Away Fay and the latter the Bumper winner Russian Ruler.

Stay Away Fay cost a paltry £305,000 after its win, but the form of that race has not worked out too well and it has not been since for nearly a year.

Russian Ruler failed to win either of its hurdle attempts and has been off the track since February.

Guess what – we are going for the third in, which has proven hurdles form and guaranteed fitness and is called Heezer Geezer.

Dan Skelton‘s 5-y-o pouched its Bumper on racecourse debut in February and ran an excellent second at Aintree last month, going down by less than a length. The third and fourth have both franked the form and this has to be the value bet at 3-1.

The Coral Novices’ Chase at 1.55 can safely be left to Stage Star, but at 8-13 this is a ‘no bet’ race.

At 2.30 we get the Coral Handicap Chase, which has a field of six, all of which are in with a chance.

Beakstown‘ 4th in the Old Roan Chase at Aintree last month has been royally franked by the second and third both winning valuable races next time out and the helpful 2lb drop in rating could see the 9-y-o home here. Have a win bet at 11-4.

We also anticipate an improved showing from The Widdow Maker, after its tune up at Cheltenham and suggest a tad each way at 7-1.

Most valuable race on the card is the Coral Long Distance Hurdle at 3.05, won last year by Thomas Darby which pitches up for another go.

Penalised this year, a repeat looks unlikely and we nail our colours to course specialist Champ.

Four from five at Newbury and a winner first time out for the past three seasons, Nicky Henderson‘s 10-y-o also has the highest rating in the field and a win bet is recommended at 13-8.

Final race is the Coral Handicap Hurdle at 3.40, which sees a rematch between Shearer and Padleyourowncanoe, which went off first and second favs for a fierce handicap at Cheltenham two weeks ago and hold similar positions in the market today.

A no result was declared when one fell and brought down the other one(!) so it’s anyone’s guess which would have prevailed.

We prefer to go the each way route for this race and suggest punts on Abuffalosoldier at 15-2 and Ask A Honey Bee at 8-1.

Back tomorrow with a review of the Hennessey (oops, sorry) the Ladbroke Trophy (tut, tut) we mean, of course, the Coral Cup – anyway, whatever it’s called we’ll crack it.


Heezer Geezer 1.20 Newbury 2pts win @ 3-1

Beakstown 2.30 Newbury 2pts win @ 11-4

The Widdow Maker 2.30 Newbury 1pt e/w @ 7-1 (3 places Hills/Lads/Coral)

Champ 3.05 Newbury 4pts win @ 13-8

Abuffalosoldier 3.40 Newbury 1pt e/w @ 15-2 (4 places)

Ask A Honey Bee 3.40 Newbury 1pt e/w @ 8-1 (4 places)

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