Newbury’s two-day Coral Gold Cup meeting gets underway this afternoon. ITV3 are covering the final five races on the Newbury card this afternoon. And Inside today’s main piece I look at the best of the action from Newbury.
The final declarations for Saturday’s card came out on Thursday lunchtime. Sixteen have been declared for the Coral Gold Cup. All the fancied horses are in the line-up with both Fiddlerontheroof and Threeunderthrufive set to run in first time cheekpieces.
Constitution Hill faces four rivals on his seasonal reappearance in the Grade 1 Betfair Fighting Fifth Hurdle (2.10) at Newcastle. They include stablemate Epatante, Not So Sleepy and Tommy’s Oscar who is back over hurdles after two runs over fences this season.
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L'Homme Presse is another big name making his return to action on Saturday. The Grade 1 novice chase winner will carry top-weight of 12-00 in the Betfair Exchange Rehearsal Handicap Chase (3:25). It’s like the good old days seeing a Grade 1 winner running in a handicap off top-weight. He faces eight rivals who include the improving Into Overdrive, last years winner Aye Right and the long absent Happygolucky.
I mentioned yesterday Nicky Henderson’s impressive record in maiden hurdles at Newbury. Well, he has an entry (Jet Powered) in the maiden hurdle (12:10).
I’m also looking forward to seeing another Henderson horse Balco Coastal in action this afternoon. The 6-year-oldmakes his chase debut in the Coral Racing Club Novices' Limited Handicap Chase (12:45). A winner of his first two starts over hurdles last season before not disgraced in better company. He looks the type to do well over the larger obstacles.
ITV are showing two of the three handicaps on the card and the handicaps offer the best betting opportunities. However, here is a quick look at the two feature races.
Coral Long Distance Hurdle (3.05)
The Grade 2 Coral Long Distance Hurdle (3.05) is the feature of a seven race card which gets started at 12:10. It’s a small but select field with all six at Monday’s final confirmation standing their ground.
At the top of the betting are recent Wetherby Grade 2 winner Proschema and the 10-year-old Champ who makes his seasonal return but whose form figures returning from a 90+ day layoff are an excellent 1211121. A classy sort he can make a winning return to action. Proschema looked better than ever when winning at Wetherby last time. Good ground and a relative speed test at the distance suits the 7-year-old.
Paisley Park who won this in 2019 also returns for the first time this season but will surely need softer ground to win. Like Paisley Park Dashel Drasher’s chance would be improved by softer ground. The 9-year-old returned with a win over hurdles at Aintree earlier in the month. He’s the least exposed of these over hurdles and can be a tough horse to pass when gets an uncontested lead which seems likely here.
Thomas Darby last year’s winner (Paisley Park third) is also in the line-up. He has attitude can be questioned, but he was on a going day 12 months ago. Beaten 10 lengths by Proschema at Wetherby on his seasonal return. He raced like he needed the run more than the winner and is 6lb better off today.
Berkshire Novices' Chase (1.55)
Earlier on the card is Grade 2 The Berkshire Novices' Chase (1.55). Since 2017 there have been 13 novice chases run at Newbury and Nicky Henderson and Paul Nicholls have won six of them. Henderson is 3-3 and Nicholls is 3-9.
Henderson doesn’t have a runner in the race but Nicholls saddles Stage Star who made a winning chase debut at Warwick earlier this month. The 6-year-old won the Grade 1 Challow Hurdle last December (2-2 at the track) and will be a warm favourite. He faces four rivals including Beauport who won the Colin Parker Intermediate Chase at Carlisle on his chase debut and useful handicap hurdler Camprond who unseated his rider at the first on chase debut at Exeter 11-days ago. If there’s any evens about on the day, I would say Stage Star would be a decent bet. I doubt we'll see it though.
Coral Bet Bundles Handicap Chase (2:30)
Sadly, just six have stood their ground for the 2m 4f Coral Bet Bundles Handicap Chase (2:30). However, it’s a tight contest.
Paint The Dream was a 15 length winner here in March (soft). He comes into the race after prep run in the Charlie Hall Chase and is very much respected back at a track that suits.
The Widdow Maker found the drop back to the minimum trip to short on seasonal return at Cheltenham last month. He’ll be better suited today’s distance and is a contender.
Beakstown was a 3 lengths 4th of 8 in the Old Roan Chase at Aintree on his seasonal return. He’s not the been the hardiest of battlers in the past. However, you can’t knock his win at Ayr in April from 8lb lower.
Caribean Boy isn’t the most consistent of handicap chasers, but he was on a going day when winning at Kempton in January. A previous C&D winner (won the Berkshire Novices’ Chase on this card in 2020) he won’t be inconvenienced by underfoot conditions and should go well on a going day.
Numitor has developed into a likeable and consistent handicap chaser, winning four of his nine starts over fences. He starts the season off a career high mark but won first time up last season and likely to give his running.
Coral Committed To Safer Gambling Handicap Hurdle (3:40)
Paul Nicholls saddles 3 of the 14 runners. The best of his trio looks to be Shearer who hadn’t been asked for his effort when unseating his rider four out at Cheltenham 13-days ago. He was strong in the betting that day (2/1) and is respected. Padleyourowncanoe was also still going well when falling four out in that Cheltenham race. He’s become a well handicapped and shouldn’t be far away.
There are plenty of others in with chance though. You can make cases for Flemcara a neck 2nd of 14 in last year’s race was and is now 5lb lower. The 10-year-old looked in need of the run when 4th of 7 over C&D 22-days ago. Didtheyleaveuoutto finished 3rd in that race but ultimately was a disappointing 15/8 favourite. Needs a sound surface and hopes are pinned on the change in headgear having the desired effect.
Ask A Honey Bee looked more comfortable back over hurdles last month than he did over fences previously. A good stamina test suits the 8-year-old, and he won’t be far away if building on last time out effort.
Pileon was only beaten a nose at Cheltenham in April off 3lb higher. Now with Christian Williams he didn’t enjoy fences at Exeter on his stable debut three weeks ago. However, needs respecting back over the smaller obstacles.
Abuffalosoldier is the least exposed runner in the field. The 5-year-old won a bumper last December and then won on hurdles debut at Wincanton (2m 4f) a month later. He wasn’t disgraced when a 13 ½ length 3rd of 8 on handicap debut/seasonal return at Fontwell last month. Shaped last time like he would be suited by more of stamina test and the Warren Greatrex yard won this in 2015.
Course and distance winner Paint the Dream and Numitor have chances in the 2:30. I was hoping for bigger than 10/1 on Abuffalosoldier in the 3:40 but he remains today's selection.
3:40 – Abuffalosoldier – 10/1 @ Coral.
Good luck with your Friday bets.