Newbury hosts the first of a two-days racing, featuring a Friday bonus with ITV Racing showcasing five live races. Fifty seven runners have been declared for a seven race card which offers some great prize money and good racing.
Thursday morning brought an unexpected light carpet of snow to my neck of the woods. We now must rely on the unpredictability of the weather gods to see if Saturday’s big clashes survive the freezing weather.
An early morning inspection will determine if racing goes ahead at Newbury this afternoon. Frost sheets are down, and the track was suitable on Thursday. However, if temperatures fall below -3°C, it’s going to be touch and go.
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Even if they can race, fears arise if daytime temperatures stay near freezing on Friday, coupled with a potentially harsher frost Friday night, jeopardizing Saturday’s Coral Cup Day. Newcastle anticipates a Saturday morning inspection for Fighting Fifth Day. Frost poses an issue, with the added possibility of snow showers complicating frost sheet removal.
Twenty were left in Saturday’s Coral Cup, although it will be reduced to 19 if Newcastle races on Saturday, with Ga Law heading to the Rehearsal Chase. That's still a larger turnout than I was expecting.
Most of Friday’s Newbury card was covered in Wednesday's column, but now that final declarations are confirmed, it’s time for an update.
Fingers crossed the meeting can go ahead today as it’s a good card.
12:10 – Jeriko Du Reponet, a winner of an Irish point in the spring, makes an eagerly debut for Nicky Henderson. The trainer, boasting six wins in the race since 2014, including Jonbon in 2021, will be expecting the 4-year-old to make his hurdle debut a winning one.
12:40 – Djelo wasn’t the most reliable over hurdles. However, he looked a much better chaser when making his debut over a fence’s a winning one at Aintree last month. He looked beat 1f that day, but he rallied well for a game success. He looks capable of better over the larger obstacles if backing up here. Trainer Venetia Williams won this in 2019.
Nicky Henderson saddles a couple of interesting chasing newcomers in Persian Time and Russian Ruler. The first named is the pick of Nico De Boinville and looks the sort to do well over fences. Russian Ruler ended last season with hurdle wins here and Kempton and is another good chasing prospect.
Lallygag looks on fair mark for his chase debut and the three time hurdle winner has looked at his best on a sound surface.
Hermes Allen Faces Tough Competition on Chase Debut in Coral John Francome Novices' Chase
1:50 – Hermes Allen takes on five rivals on chase debut in the Grade 2 Coral John Francome Novices' Chase. He was the best of these over hurdles but I’m happy to take him on at the prices.
Both my initial fancies No Ordinary Joe and Tightenourbelts have stood their ground and along with Marble Sands, who has come in for support, and Irish challenger Colonel Mustard. Despite the small field, It’s an intriguing contest.
Venetia Williams Eyes Third Win in Competitive Handicap Chase
Trainer Venetia Williams has won this handicap chase twice since 2018 and she will be hoping that Frero Banbou can make it three.
Kandoo Kid was 8/1 on Tuesday and is now half the odds. He was good second to a Venetia Williams runner over C&D last time. Up 6lb but remains with potential over fences on just his third start over the larger obstacles.
Sail Away was also 8/1 earlier in the week. A good jumper of a fence, if the ground is on the good side, he’s a contender on seasonal return after wind surgery.
Whodini comes into the race bidding for a hat trick after wins at Huntingdon and Ayr. He’s only up 2lb for that success but this is a better race. However, he also holds an entry at Doncaster (1:25) and will probably go there.
There’s been some early each way support at big odds for Goose Man. The ex-Irish trained 11-year-old was returning from a mammoth 972 day layoff when comfortably winning a selling hurdle at Huntingdon on first start for Jeremy Snowden 17 days ago. This is a much tougher assignment, but he’s proved his well-being and is nicely treated on the best of his Irish chase form from early 2021.
Marie’s Rock, Paisley Park, and Dashel Drasher Set for Feature Race Showdown
3:00 – The big three have stood their ground Marie’s Rock, Paisley Park and Dashel Drasher have stood their ground for the feature race. Marie’s Rock heads the betting and looks the most likely winner but you can’t dismiss either Paisley Park or Dashel Drasher. The latter should get own way out in front and if there is sufficient juice in the ground could be the value play.
3:35 – Cobblers Dream wasn’t declared, probably goes for a handicap hurdle on Saturday’s card. That leaves just two of my shortlist Ed Keeper and Ramoto take on ten rivals.
Ed Keeper demonstrated improvement on his handicap debut, when a ¾-length 2nd of 11 at Ascot last month. Despite a 6lb increase and a need to refine his jumping, his move to 3m adds an intriguing dimension.
Ramo comes into the race after a win at Ludlow on his seasonal return. That success came over 2m 5f and given his two previous came over 3m+ he’s got potential for further improvement potential, although a drawback might be a preference for soft ground.
As discussed in Wednesday's column, Kandoo Kid and Sail Away offered good value at 8/1 in the 2:25. Though I still favour Kandoo Kid but, at 7/2, he falls below my preferred price. Instead, I'm opting for the Goose Man. However, even his price is getting to point where he wouldn't be a bet.
Ed Keeper was also a good price at 8/1 earlier in the week for the 3:35. He’s now best priced 9/2 which isn’t as attractive.
On Wednesday, I emphasized that there is still potential value to uncovered before final declarations. However, on the evening before the racing, those opportunities seem to have gone and that's proving to be the case today . It's not ideal for everyone but I suggest It might be prudent to wait until closer to the off to make your bets.
2:25 – Goose Man – 12/1 @ Bet365.
Good luck with your Friday’s bets.