There are six meetings today across the U.K and Ireland with Newbury the main focus of the day.
With Cheltenham on the horizon there are plenty of clues about so it should be a very exciting days racing as Festival fever takes hold!
Newbury’s seven race card gets under way at 1:15.
The first race on the card is a novices hurdle and it should see punters get off to a good start with the Ben Pauling trained HIGH BRIDGE.
This horse was a very talented bumper horse last season and it ran a cracker in the Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival.
His hurdling career got off to a great start this season with a win over this course and distance, winning easily that day from a horse called Chelsea Flyer.
High Bridge then went to Catterick and bolted up by 9l. Todays race is tougher than the last two but this horse has the potential for greater and I think he’ll take this step up in grade in his stride.
Dead Right could well be his biggest danger but that one’s form isn’t anywhere near High Bridges, and I’m happy to lump on at 6/5.
The 2nd race on the card is a 3 mile handicap hurdle and it sees one of the most improved horses this season in the field.
Tobefair has won six races in a row and has gone up 52lb.
This horse showed last time out that he’s not stopping and if anything is still improving. He won well that day at Warwick from Scotchtown who is in the field again today.
There isn’t much difference in the weights today so I don’t think Scotchtown will reverse the placings.
Tobefair will most likely head to the Cheltenham festival after this race and his connections will be hoping this horse keeps his winning run going.
Lac Fontana is an interesting runner in this field.
He would wipe the floor with these on his old form but this is his 2nd run back from a long layoff so today may not be the day for him.
He’s one to watch for the Cheltenham Festival though.
I think TOBEFAIR can win again today en route to Cheltenham and 4/1 is decent enough.
The 2:25 on the card the Denman Chase may only have three runners but it’s the most interesting race of the day.
It sees three Gold Cup contenders put there claims on the line today.
It could end up being a match between Hennessey and Welsh National winner Native River and Peter Marsh Chase winner Bristol De Mai.
They were both decent novice chasers last season. Native River went for the 4 miler at last year’s festival and Bristol De Mai went for the JLT.
Both were 2nd in their respective races.
Native River has been very impressive this season and a win here would definitely have him in the shake up in the Gold Cup.
Native River is an out and out stayer whereas Bristol De Mai has a touch of class. He’s taken a few runs to get him right this season but is now at near peak form.
He won very easily last time out and the runner up who he beat 22l has won since.
Both of these are great jumpers and the both love to front run. I can see both of them going head to head throughout the race.
Native River is rated 2lb superior to Bristol De Mai and they both run off of level weights today so that’s a slight edge to begin with for Native River.
If they do get into a head to head battle I’d rather be on Native River – I can see him outstaying Bristol De Mai in the latter stages of the race.
I just hope they don’t cut each others throats as such and set it up for Le Mercury who will be ridden with patience.
I’m going to side with NATIVE RIVER given his greater stamina.
The Game Spirit Chase at 3:00 is also an interesting race with lots of Cheltenham clues.
Last years Supreme Novice Hurdle winner Altior takes on a field of four runners in this 2 mile Grade 2 chase.
He has taken to fences really well thus far and is 3 from 3 as a novice chaser.
This is a big step up in grade for him today.
Novices don’t often run in this race but he is a very special horse and he could well emulate his former stablemate Sprinter Sacre one day by winning the Champion Chase.
Altior’s main dangers today are Fox Norton and Traffic Fluide. Both of these were decent novice chasers last season.
Fox Norton has won both of his starts this season and Traffic Fluide ran a cracker on his recent run back after a long layoff in the Clarence House behind Un De Sceaux.
Traffic Fluide was a big eye catcher that day and he was finishing fastest of all. He may have put it up to Un De Sceaux if there was another furlong or if he had a run under its belt.
He’ll be a big danger today to Altior if he doesn’t bounce on his 2nd run back from a layoff.
ALTIOR has a lot more potential though and he really should be winning this. If he does go and win this Nicky Henderson will have an interesting choice to make.
To go for the Arkle which is pretty much a guaranteed win bar a fall or go for the Champion Chase and take on the mighty Douvan.
It would be one hell of a race if that did take place.
Dodging Bullets who is also in the field today is a shadow of his former self. He hasn’t shown anything since he won the Champion Chase a few seasons back.
He has come down the weights a lot though, but I think with another poor run here he’ll be well handicapped for the Grand Annual Handicap at the Cheltenham Festival.
Todays race is Altoir’s to lose though.
I think Traffic Fluide in the betting w/o market is a decent bet.
The Betfair Hurdle at 3:35 is one of the best handicap hurdles of the season and it is always a great pointer to the handicap hurdles at the Cheltenham festival.
The four horses that stand out for me in this are Ballyandy, Movewiththetimes, Clyne and Song Light. Clyne ran a great race in a graded race last time out behind The New One.
He could well be the class horse in this race but he has to give away a lot of weight to some potentially well handicapped horses.
I wouldn’t rule out a place though with this one.
Ballyandy was a top class bumper horse and he won the Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival last season.
He’s had three runs over hurdles this season without winning, two of those runs came against Moon Racer who was a previous winner of the Champion Bumper.
Ballyandy was 2nd to a decent novice hurdler last time out who boosted the form in recent days.
I think this race has been the target all season and he gets in here off a very nice mark.
It’s not unusual for winners of this to go on and run a big race in the Supreme Novices Hurdle at the Festival.
I think Ballyandy could well do that.
He has dangers in the form of Movewiththetimes and Song Light though. Movewiththetimes was very impressive last time out and comes here in great shape.
He was beat a long ways by Moon Racer the time before though which suggests he’ll have to improve to beat Ballyandy today.
He also has to give that rival 1lb.
Song Light ran a cracker last time out in a big handicap hurdle at Cheltenham. He finished best of all that day and was unlucky not to have won.
He’s receiving a few pounds in the weights from Ballyandy today which will help but I don’t think he’ll beat that one. He could well place though at a nice price.
BALLYANDY is the one for me in this at around 4/1.
I’d suggest doing a Super Yankee on my five selections today:
High Bridge 1:15 Newbury
Tobefair 1:50 Newbury
Native River 2:25 Newbury
Altior 3:00 Newbury
Ballyandy 3:35 Newbury