There are six televised races on Saturday, four from Betfair Day at Newbury where races start at 1.50, 2.25, 3.00 and 3.35, plus Warwick at 2.05 and 2.40.
Betfair Denman Chase
There are few decent betting opportunities today with Newbury’s card lacking the star names that have tended to grace this meeting in the past. The ground is probably to blame and the Denman Chase, in particular, is short on quality.
None of the seven strong field have any Gold Cup aspirations and favourites Ballynagour and Rocky Creek look worth opposing as they were both pulled up last time out.
Rank outsider Midnight Legend is out of his depth, Bob Ford also has plenty to find on the book and Splash Of Ginge has yet to prove he stays this trip, so that just leaves HOUBLON DES OBEAUX and THE GIANT BOLSTER.
It is hard to have great confidence in either, but both did show some signs of life last time out and so look the best options for punters. If either could re-capture anything like their best form they should win and Houblon Des Obeaux, in particular, has often shown himself suited by this type of track and ground.
|Houblon Des Obeaux (win)||2.25 Newbury||4/1||Bet365, Betfair|
|The Giant Bolster (ew)||2.25 Newbury||14/1||Bet365|
Betfair Exchange Chase
Reigning Champion Chaser Dodging Bullets returns to action in The Game Spirit Chase and he has plenty in hand on his three rivals based on ratings.
He prefers better going and may need the run, but is reported in good form at home.
With Captain Conan yet to show he retains his old ability, the only real option is to back TOP GAMBLE, who is at least proven in the conditions.
|Top Gamble (win)||3.00 Newbury||5/2||Bet365, Betfair|
The key race for punters is the Betfair Hurdle, where 22 go to post.
Given the size of the prize, all of the big yards and owners are well represented, but we wouldn’t be surprised if one of the smaller handlers took the honours.
Harry Whittington’s horses remain in good form and his lightly raced 5 year old, AFFAIRE D’HONNEUR, looks to have an ideal profile for the race.
He ran encouragingly on his British debut at Kempton over Christmas and is reported to have thrived since. He handles soft ground and looks to have a massive chance.
A horse with a similar profile is FOREST BIHAN, who may now be coming to the peak for his new trainer, Brian Ellison.
Ellison has done well in this sort of race down the years and a big plus with this gelding is that he is likely to stay further in time. A fierce end-to-end gallop is assured so stamina will certainly come into play up the home straight.
If there is to be a shock then it may come courtesy of MATORICO.
Jonjo O’Neill’s horses have started to show signs of a revival in recent days and this horse is interesting dropping back in trip in first time blinkers.
O’Neill often targets this monster prize and Matorico is another who has the right sort of the profile for the race.
Others on our shortlist were Waxies Dargle, Starchitect and Flying Angel.
|Affaire D’Honneur (ew)||3.35 Newbury||9/1||Bet365, Betfair|
|Forest Bihan (ew)||3.35 Newbury||20/1||Bet365, Betfred|
|Matorico (ew)||3.35 Newbury||33/1||Bet365, Betfred|
7bets4free Novices’ Chase
Best bet on Warwick’s card could be VIVALDI COLLONGES who is back in novice company and down in trip, after finding a crack at the big staying chase here four weeks ago beyond him.
|Vivaldi Collonges (win)||1.30 Warwick||9/4||Coral, Ladbrokes|