Thursday’s racing brings a bit of quality to the table as Newbury hosts a really good looking card. There’s also jumps action from Sedgefield and Market Rasen. We’ll dig into all 3 for a few likely types for today.
An 3 mile 2 furlong handicap chase opens proceedings for the day and I was drawn to one straight away here in LATE DATE.
This 8 year old is a course specialist and has a record of 2-3 over course and distance. Runs here just seem to spark him up and on his last attempt here he saw off a useful one in Djin Conti. This trip of just over 3 miles seems to really be his bag and he handles the sharp course here really well. He’s done it here on soft and good to soft so I’m not too concerned about the underfoot going today. In this small handicap field he really stands out as a the best stayer and 32 days ago he had his pipe opener at Kelso to prepare him for this. It wasn’t a terrible run at Kelso and he came 3rd of 8, 24 lengths behind the winner Damiens Dilemma. The handicapper trimmed him 2lbs and it makes him an even more attractive prospect for this run. He likes to make all around this course so if he manages to get a soft lead from the pack he’ll be hard to peg back from the front. River Of Intrigue might give him a bit of a contest for that lead here but the top weight might just want to tuck in behind our selection to keep him close rather than take him on for over 3 miles for a lead.
Main competition is definitely Sutter’s Mill for me as he put in a really gritty performance last time out to win a 3 mile 2 furlong race. What puts me off him is he’s moving up in class off the back of a 7lb rise. He could handle the handicappers say and his switch to class 4 or it could find him out as not actually being that good. Agamemmon is dropping back in class and is 5lbs lower than his last chase win but his form has floundered recently and he’s not won since May 2018.
It’s a small field to pick through but the course and distance lover Late Date looks the one to side with and overnight the market has slowly started to agree.
A really interesting 2 mile novices’ hurdle is the 4th race on Newbury’s card. The top 2 on the market are the ones to really concentrate on as Floressa and SILVER FOREVER appear to be a different class from the rest of the field.
It’s quite difficult to separate the two. Floressa made his hurdle debut 15 days ago at Worcester and dished out a resolute beating to 13 rivals. Winning in the end by 19 lengths the Nicky Henderson trained 4 year old looks very smart. Not enough time has gone by for the form to have any real franking from anything in behind so it’s quite hard to assess just how good this one is. A quick glance over the sectional times for the race paints a pretty picture and shows us in the last 4 furlongs Floressa put the race to bed. It looks smart on the clock and pleasing to the eye but we can’t really dissect what he’s beaten.
It makes Silver Forever the safer looking option. He was last seen winning his hurdle debut over 2.5 miles. Another good performance as he was an 8/13 shot and won like an odds on shot. Harry Cobden shook him up before the last and his mount quickened clear easily to put the result beyond any doubt. There’s a common denominator between the 2 horses I’m going to exploit and although it links to their bumper form I’m hoping it holds relevant in their careers as hurdlers. Silver Forever twice beat the horse Mystic Dreamer in bumpers. The second time in they opposed Silver Forever won by 0.75 of a length giving his opponent 4lbs. Mystic Dreamer beat Floressa half a length giving him 1lb. It’s shaky ground to base it on but the Paul Nicholls inmate gets the nod narrowly.
Nicholls’ hurdlers have started to come into their own in the last week or so and although Silver Forever is dropping back in trip his high cruising speed should suit Newbury. We’ve seen his form have some boosting recently with Kissesforkatie 4th in a class 3, Just A Thought agonisingly beaten yesterday into 2nd in a class 3 and Go Millie Go coming 2nd in a class 4 maiden hurdle too.
I expect Silver Forever, Floressa and Vienna Court to make up the places.
Sticking in Newbury for their next on the card and it’s another tight one between 2 rivals. Sometimes it can be very misleading to be caught up in just the top 2 in the market but once again I think it is between these 2. Geordie B and DIABLO DE ROUHET oppose here and are currently joint favourites. There’s a bit more splitting these 2 for me and it’s easier to side with the Nicky Henderson horse.
I was on course for his last win at Uttoxeter and backed him in his impressive 7 length victory in a race just short of 3 miles. Henderson seems to be getting a great tune out of him and since his switch to the yard his form is reading 1st, 2nd and 1st. He’s hitting an upward curve in handicaps and has gone in the last 3 times over fences. It’s a little strange to see him drop down to hurdles again but he’s clearly on the up and warrants maximum respect. When it comes to splitting the 2 one of the deciding factors is the ground. Geordie B is a proper mudlark. He loves soft going and it shows him to his best effect. Newbury is currently riding good with only some light rain forecasted, not enough to make a drastic change to the underfoot conditions anyway from the looks of it. Diablo De Rouhet might just have too much tactical speed for Geordie B who likes to simply outstay opponents. Venetia Williams’ 6 year old is also rated 4lbs higher than his main rival and it will be hard to give away some weight to a smart looking competitor. We haven’t seen him for 234 days too so you could make the assumption that he’s not at his fittest for this encounter.
Match fit, ground in his favour and getting weight from his main rival, Diablo De Rouhet looks the one to beat for me as he continues his improvement for Nicky Henderson.
Top 3 are looking like Diablo De Rouhet, Geordie B and Dingo Dollar.
Moving over to Sedgefield for their penultimate race on the card, a 2.5 mile handicap chase. Top of the market is 7 year old Mah Mate Bob. Fantastically named but carrying 12st and trying to back up after 12 days, he’s one I want to take on.
A flick over this field yields an interesting runner in TWO HOOTS, this 8 year old just appears to absolutely love Sedgefield. He was a dual course winner last season over both 16.5 furlongs and 19.5 furlongs. Although those wins came off of marks of 75 and 84 he also placed over today’s trip off of today’s mark of 88. He’s had 4 career runs at Sedgefield and has finished in the top 2 every single time. Some horses find a course that just suits their style and they excel there, this could be one of those cases. If it is then 10/1 looks plenty big enough to get stuck into. This Joanne Foster trained gelding made his reappearance 37 days ago and it went relatively under the radar. He had a spin is a class 5 handicap chase and ran a rough looking 5th of 6 and quite far detached. The handicapper trimmed 2lbs off him and he comes back to his seemingly favourite course off a workable mark with conditions in his favour. A scout of the pace on here would suggest that Black Kettle and Mac Mate Bob will fight for the lead between them with Two Hoots sitting in just behind. If those 2 go too hard upfront he’ll be sitting nice and handy to take up the running when they begin to flag in front.
It’s a funny race and main dangers for me appear to be Black Kettle and old boy Burning Issues. Burning Issues has gotten the best of Two Hoots before but as he’s now 12 it’d be safe to assume the veteran’s best days are now behind him. Black Kettle is well handicapped off a mark of 82 and drops in class off a recent course effort. When you factor in his jockey’s claim that day he was carrying just over 9st yet was soundly beaten into 3rd. Not really awe inspiring so I’ll be sticking with our 10/1 course lover to go close again.