Neil Morrice walks you through the front runners for Saturday’s racing at Bangor-on-Dee, Newcastle and Newbury, including the feature race analysis for the Ladbrokes Trophy Handicap Chase.
Preview from Neil Morrice
Newbury Feature Race Analysis
Ladbrokes Trophy Handicap Chase
Rarely has the old Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup looked as wide open with just six points covering the first eight in the Hollywoodbets market, headed by OK CORRAL at 6-1. The gigantic Ok Corral is described as an ideal type for a race his trainer Nicky Henderson has won times. He’s an unexposed novice who is making his handicap debut but I’m not sure he’s been let in lightly. He wasn’t himself when being pulling up in the four mile National Hunt Chase, having previously bagged two novice chases in the colours of JP McManus.
ON THE BLIND SIDE gives Henderson another string to his bow and will be all the better for his comeback effort when a staying on fourth to Vinndication at Ascot. He was given plenty to do and his jumping lacked fluency, while his best form is on right-handed tracks. So the jury is very much out.
Colin Tizzard landed this race with Sizing Tennessee 12 months ago and his Dorset stable fields four, headed by top weight ELEGANT ESCAPE. He finished runner-up in 2018 and looks to be improving, making his rating navigable. It’s not unusual for horses high in the handicap to prevail in this, and in a field that perhaps lacks the usual quality levels Harry Cobden’s mount comes right into the equation. Last season’s Welsh National hero tuned up for the race with a pleasing second to Ballyoptic in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby, an effort that should have brought him nicely to the boil.
WEST APPROACH finally delivered in a small field at Cheltenham and this hold up performer should be even happier in a bigger field where he can pick off his rivals as the race progresses. MISTER MALARKY is too short at 7-1 considering he was beaten a country mile on his Ascotvreturn behind Vinndication, while the lightly raced ROBINSFIRTH stays forever, will love the ground and is therefore dark.
This year’s Irish contingent looks formidable with CABARET QUEEN and BORICE making particular sense when weighing up their claims. Cabaret Queen hasn’t put a foot wrong since joining Willie Mullins out of the bargain basement, finishing second at the Listowel Festival before hacking up in the Munster National at Limerick. Even though she’s a full 20lb higher, she could hardly have been more impressive and Mullins pulled off the same double with Total Recall who was afforded a similar rise in the weights two years ago.
BORICE is very much a ‘now’ horse for Gordon Elliott, having improved in droves this year. His effort to trounce Black Corton at Galway in July reads well, and he has enjoyed a subsequent freshening break.
Course winner THE RASHER COUNTER shaped well on his reappearance over hurdles and will be fitter for that as he takes a step up the class ladder. The second-season chaser possesses the same profile as horses that have run well in the race in recent years.
1st ELEGANT ESCAPE
2nd Ok Corral
3rd West Approach
5th On The Blind Side
Newbury Undercard Best Bets
Trainer: Paul Nicholls
Jockey: Harry Cobden
Having spent a lot of time on the sidelines, DAN McGRUE has come back with all guns blazing this season, posting a narrow defeat at Plumpton and then going one better at the same course where he stayed on gamely to thwart Acey Milan. He’s been handed a 7lb penalty but with so few miles on his clock there should be more reserves under his bonnet, which will be needed as this is a lot more competitive.
Race 7: LADY BUTTONS (2)
Trainer: Phil Kirby
Jockey: Adrian Nicol
In search of back-to-back victories in this handicap chase, LADY BUTTONS goes to war off a 9lb higher mark but I’m reasonably confident she can deliver the goods. A credit to her trainer, she seems to do both jobs equally as well, and was most impressive in dispatching the useful Indefatigable on her reappearance in a Grade 1 mares’ hurdle at Wetherby. Connections considered a shot at the ‘Fighting Fifth’ at Newcastle but by coming here I think they have called it right.
Bangor-on-Dee Best Bets
Race 2: SINGLEFARMPAYMENT (2)
Trainer: Tom George
Jockey: Jonathan Burke
Conditions look perfect for SINGLEFARMPAYMENT who is worth back on his first outing since finishing a creditable eighth in the Grand National in April. He was parsimoniously campaigned last season and has never quite lived up to his early potential. However the gelding has been given some tweaks in the summer and now is the time to catch him.
Race 5: JELSKI (2)
Trainer: Nigel Twiston-Davies
Jockey: Sam Twiston-Davies
JELSKI has been taking on better horses than he meets here and seems set for a deserved first win of the campaign. He finished third to Mossy Fen on his latest start at Aintree and a repeat of that should be more than good enough for him to land the spoils.
Race 7: CHAZZA (2)
Trainer: Kim Bailey
Jockey: Chester Williams
CHAZZA cut the mustard when landing his third and final point-to-point outing when based in Ireland and has trained promisingly for this first run under Rules. His trainer does well with this type of horse in Bumpers, and he represents value against the likes of Llandinabo Lad and Word Has It.
Newcastle Best Bets
Race 1: ROBEAM (2)
Trainer: Brian Ellison
Jockey: Henry Brooke
Previous winners Navajo Pass and ROBEAM should dominate this juvenile hurdle having both scored costly following heavy backing on their debuts. However, Robeam just needed one reminder before slamming Tabou Beach Boy by 32 lengths at Sedgefield and may have achieved more than his rival’s win at Bangor.
Trainer: Kim Bailey
Jockey: Ned Curtis
The Warwick novice won by ESPOIR DE ROMAY looked as warm as toast and you had to be impressed with the way the 5yo got the job done, sauntering home by almost four lengths from the more than useful West Cork. There seemed absolutely no fluke about the result and it’s on the cards that he can follow-up.
Race 5: BUVEUR D’AIR (1)
Trainer: Nicky Henderson
Jockey: Barry Geraghty
With the Irish-trainer horses in the Champion Hurdle market taking their time to excel, this looks a gift for BUVEUR D’AIR who can complete a historic hat trick in the contest. He looked as good as ever when powering home in the big conditions hurdle at the Punchestown Festival in May and has delighted his trainer getting ready for this. Nothing but a conversion will do.