The 3-day Hennessy meeting opens today at Newbury.
Firstly, there was a development yesterday in the Hennessy Gold Cup to be run on Saturday with the withdrawal of Valseur Lido, which was the more fancied runner of the pair entered by Willie Mullins. That means that if Ruby Walsh rides in the race he will most likely be on Ballycasey, currently priced at 33/1 but unlikely to be those odds if Walsh is in the saddle. However, it seems more likely that Ruby Walsh will be at Newcastle on Saturday.
At Newbury today, we could see a future star chaser in the opening novice hurdle in MODUS. Bred to be a “Derby” winner, he’s not particularly quick (hence only 2 wins from 6 starts in NH flat races) but he hacked-up on his hurdling debut on 12th November, and should win his race today at 12:30pm – but, as he’s quoted odds-on at 8/15, he’s a “no-bet” from me.
The novice chases today at 2:10pm and 2:45pm should both watched with interest as they will provide a host of potential decent chasers for the future. In the Grade 2, novice chase over 2m7f at 2:10pm, the fav is the David Pipe trained Un Temps Pour Tout, who was trained to win the World Hurdle over 3-mile at the Festival last March, but was unplaced. He was beaten on his chase debut 12-days ago and so should be fitter for this today. However, Pipe’s horses are not winning as many races as they should be and I don’t think this horse is a value wager at 15/8. I think it is interesting that Paul Nicholls, who has a good record in this race, has sent Port Melon (he also had LTO winners Silsol and Katgary entered) , and I am expecting a big run from this horse and 14/1 looks interesting.
The novice handicap chase over 2m6f at 2:45pm has been won in 2 of the past 3 years by Paul Nicholls, and he sends the top-weight with 11st 8lb, Warriors Tale (current odds 6/1). Although the weights in this handicap go down to 10st 5lb, the last 4 winners have all carried 11st-plus to victory, suggesting the better class horses usually prevail. African Gold was a tremendous novice hurdler but has suffered through injury for the past 2 seasons. Whereas Nitrogen is a half-brother to triple Gold Cup winner Best Mate, and could develop into anything, such is his potential. Not an easy race in which to find the winner.
There is one off my alert list running at Newbury today, and that’s BELMOUNT in the Class 3 handicap chase over 3-mile for amateur riders at 1:00pm. He’s a big horse who has won on heavy ground and tho’ he struggled LTO at Exeter (started the fav but pulled-up 4-out) that race was run at a fairly strong pace on testing, soft ground. His amateur jockey rode the runner-up in a similar race at Cheltenham recently (readers of the blog were on the winner, Knock House ridden by Nina Carberry) and retains his 7lb claim. Currently 9/1 this looks a weak race, and BELMOUNT should be 5/1 for this based on his two completed chase races. He possibly won’t beat the 2/1 fav Wuff, but Baby Shine usually needs a race under his bealt and this is his seasonal debut, and he may have more to fear from Russe Blanc who was also in the Exeter race but was well beaten in 6th. But, it looks unlikely that he will finish out of the 1st-3 (in my opinion) and he could well sneak a win.
Newbury 1:0pm BELMOUNT, £5 eachway @ 9/1 (BetVictor, 5th odds a place 1,2,3 – other bookies go 8/1)
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