CHAMP HAS TO PROVE WORTHY OF HIS NAME
Newbury 1.50 - Depending on how much rain we have, by the time this race kicks off, the conditions at Newbury could be quite soft. Due to the long home straight horses often find themselves racing a long way from home and it will take a good stayer to last home on this ground.
The regally named, CHAMP, stands out as he looks a proper National Hunt type who can handle a bit of cut. His second place effort to Vinndication is the strongest form on offer and if he is going to live up to his name he should be winning this handicap.
Newcastle 2.05 - Buveur D’air is the class horse of the race and if this was the Champion Hurdle I would be backing him to do the business again, but at 11/10 he offers no value whatsoever. Samcro has big questions to answer after being beaten by Bedrock last time out and I can’t help but think the bubble has burst. Summerville Boy, in my opinion, won a weak Supreme and is a silly price compared to VISION DES FLOS.
Colin Tizzard’s charge improved all through last year, culminating in some very good performances at the major Spring festivals. He travelled sweetly on his return before being outstayed by Wholestone and I strongly believe he is the best bet at 33/1 given he could still be on the improve.
Newbury 2.25 - This is another competitive renewal of the Gerry Fielden where many have a chance. Conditions aren’t sure to suit French Crusader who looks an improving type but he is weighted to go close if handling the surface. The soft ground should however favour BALLYMOY (NAP) who has looked a strong stayer over the minimum trip so far. Nigel Twiston-Davies looked after him last year which paid dividends as he won a good handicap at Sandown on the final day of the season. He returned with a good victory at Chepstow which would have bought him forward and although his future lies over further, and possibly over fences, this looks the next logical step up the ladder.
Newbury 3.00 - Thomas Patrick and
Elegant Escape do battle again after a memorable duel up the Sandown straight just 20 days ago. They should be there or thereabouts, however I don’t think they are as progressive as some of the second season novices we are used to seeing in this race.
Despite their presence I believe MS PARFOIS (NB) is the classiest horse in the race and given she receives weight off both, I can’t not back her. She finished clear of Elegant Escape at Aintree when second to Terrefort which was some performance given how well she ran at Cheltenham in the 4 miler. She jumps and gallops for fun on a softer surface and I can’t see her out of the frame today.
Newcastle 3.20 - The Dutchman currently has more letters than numbers next to his name so it will be difficult to take a short price about him. I’m hoping there could be one or two improvers lurking towards the bottom of the racecard such as BIG RIVER who improved with every run last year and I anticipate further improvement. Lucinda Russell thinks quite a bit of him and ran him in some good races last term but his jumping sometimes lacked fluency. His fencing got better as the season wore on, however, and I’m hopeful he can make an impact in staying chases this term.
Newbury 3.35 - LADY BUTTONS has unfinished business over fences and can go some way to realising her potential over the larger obstacles here. She looks to have been found an ideal opportunity to gain another victory over fences as most of her rivals look exposed.