Inside today’s main piece I’m beginning my preview Newbury’s two day Coral Gold Cup meeting which gets underway on Friday. Today’s it’s a quick look at Friday’s card and tomorrow I will preview Saturday’s Coral Gold Cup.
ITV Racing is gearing up to showcase live coverage of five races from Newbury on Friday, followed by an additional four races on Saturday at the same venue, along with two more from Newcastle. The featured races at Newcastle include the BetMGM Fighting Fifth Hurdle at 1:55 and the BetMGM Rehearsal Handicap Chase at 3:05.
Decoding Betting Trends: Late Exchange Moves Proving Pivotal in Betting Success
I remain of the opinion that there always some value and a few ricks to be found when the betting opens on the weekend’s ITV racing. Of course, you must move quick as those ricks are soon gone and all that pre-supposes that you can get more on than £2.50 which is becoming an all to often occurrence.
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There’s less and less value to be found on the Friday evening before Saturday’s racing that’s for sure. I’m not totally sure why things have changed so much in recent years, but they have. Not that its impacted me in recent weeks as I have been tipping absolute junk.
Late money on the exchanges is all that matters now. The latter you wait to place your bet the better – particularly in the final two minutes before the race begins.
Horses getting backed are winning big time, think Royal Pagaille backed before the off in the Betfair Chase, and those that are drifting are losing. It’s really been as simple as that in the first couple of months of the jumps season.
What has been noticeable is that any early well fancied horses that have drifted before the off are getting stuffed.
The Exchanges are becoming more and more accurate at the off. You must assume that the betting markets aren’t very strong and when the betting syndicates are coming and they’re coming in late their having a massive impact and in most cases, they are winning and winning big time.
If I’m right that this down to a lack of robustness in the horse betting markets, then following the late money trend will continue to pay off.
Spotlight on the Weekend’s ITV Races
If the ground does quicken up at Newbury, I’m assuming it will, then it’s likely the fields for Friday & Saturday’s cards will cut up before final declarations. Last year’s Coral Gold Cup saw 15 go to post and just 12 went to post in 2018 and we could be looking at similar on Saturday.
For now, I’m just concentrating on the Friday as declarations are due out at Wednesday lunchtime.
Weather and Track Conditions at Newbury
It was good to soft at Newbury at the time of writing this on Tuesday evening. Now there is very little rain in the forecast, and we could be for some frosty nights over the next few days if the weather forecasts prove accurate. If that turns out to be the case, then the track is likely to dry out. Granted it’s not going to dry out as quickly as it would in high summer, but they can’t water the track either, so it can only quicken.
Newbury – Friday
Hermes Allen Fancied on Chase Debut, but Tightenourbelts and No Ordinary Joe Offer Attractive Odds in John Francome Novices' Chase
Hermes Allen is a best priced evens for the Grade 2 John Francome Novices' Chase (1:50). He was the best of the seven entries over hurdles and trainer Paul Nicholls saddled Clan Des Obeaux to win this in 2016 but that won came into this with a previous run over fences. Of course, Hermes Allen can win but at his present price I can leave him alone.
At bigger odds there’s a bit more value to be found with Tightenourbelts and No Ordinary Joe.
Tightenourbelts was always expected to be a better chaser than a hurdler. He jumped superbly for novice to win at Ludlow last month and I really like him. He looks a definite runner (jockey booked) and the general 10/1 looks and it will look even better if the race cuts up.
No Ordinary Joe is another to make his chase debut. A useful handicap hurdler whose best effort came when he was a 1 ½ length 2nd of 21 to Iroko in Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. He’s bred for chasing and trainer Nicky Henderson won this in 2019 & 2020. Paddy Power & Betfair Sportsbook have the 7-year-old at 8/1 which looks more than fair to me.
Frero Banbou – Can the Bookies' Favorite Prevail, or Will Kandoo Kid or Sail Away Offer Better Value?
In the 2:25 you can see why Frero Banbou (5/1) is the bookies early bird favourite. The 8-year-old was back to form when 3rd of 10 in the Grand Sefton Chase and trainer Venetia Williams has won this race twice since 2018.
Of the rest there doesn’t seem a huge lot of value against the favourite. Kandoo Kid jumped nicely on just his second start over fences when a neck 2nd of 10 to Galop de Chasse over C&D 22 days ago. He’s 6lb higher but remains with potential. The 8/1 available with Bet365 looks good to me. However, Harry Cobden goes for stablemate Golden Sun which slightly tempers enthusiasm.
The other that looks a bit of early value is Sail Away 8/1 with Paddy Power & Betfair Sportsbook. The 7-year-old looked well suited to the drying ground when making all to win a handicap chase (3m) at Ayr in April. This trip may prove to be a bit short of his best. However, I like a horse who’s a good jumper of a fence.
Coral Long Distance Hurdle Showdown
Marie’s Rock is currently priced at 10/11 by the sponsors for the Grade 2 Coral Long Distance Hurdle at 3:00. Notably, the mare won on her first outing last season, showcasing a strong performance when fresh.
Paisley Park, the 2019 winner of this race, has secured placed efforts in the last three renewals, narrowly missing victory by a neck a year ago. Despite being 11 years old, it might be premature to rule him out entirely.
Dashel Drasher, previously the runner-up to Marie’s Rock at Cheltenham in January over 2m 4f, is set for a more favorable three-mile trip. Although a lack of run affected the 10-year-old's performance when third at Wetherby last month. He can be expected to be fitter here and 7/2 available with William Hill is appealing.
Ed Keeper, Rama, and Cobblers Dream Emerge as Ones to Watch in the ITV Finale
3:35 – While I haven't delved deeply into the final ITV race, three early contenders have caught my attention.
Ed Keeper (8/1 Bet365) showcased improvement on his handicap debut, securing a ¾-length 2nd of 11 at Ascot last month. Despite a 6lb increase and a need to brush up his jumping, his transition to 3m adds an intriguing dimension.
Among the favourites is Rama (6/1 Bet365), who triumphed in a seasonal return at Ludlow (2m 5f) last month. With previous hurdle wins over 3m. The 6-year-old has potential for further improvement, though a drawback might be a preference for soft ground.
Additionally, Cobblers Dream (16/1 Sky Bet) captures my interest at an each-way price. The 7-year-old, was an improving staying hurdler who,claimed victory in the Lanzarote Hurdle at Kempton and finished as the runner-up in the Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival two seasons ago. Despite limited starts last season, including two over fences. He shaped with promise with a 17-length 3rd of 7 at Kempton (2m 5f). While his stamina for three miles requires trust, I believe he has the capability to stay. It's worth noting he also holds an entry for here on Saturday (1:40).
There’s jumps action at Hereford, Kelso and Wetherby and an all-weather teatime future at Dundalk. I have had a look at two of the Wetherby handicap chases.
1:50 – Trainer Micky Hammond, fresh from Sedgefield double, offers Duo D'Enfer at an appealing 14/1 (Bet365). I backed on debut here on stable debut 25 days ago, he's now aimed at 3m with improved yard form.
3:00 – Gallic Geordie, a past course winner, managed a commendable 16 ¼ length fifth on his seasonal return. Despite uncertainty over the 2m distance, Ned Fox's 5lb claim could make him competitive.
Escapeandevade showed promise at this meeting last year on chase debut and when winning at Ayr. He needs to bounce back from two subpar runs at the end last season. He looks the sole pace angle and a return to his Ayr form makes him intriguing.
1:50 – Duo D'Enfer – 14/1 @ Bet365.
Good luck with your Wednesday bets.