We have a great day of jump racing today with the main meeting at Newbury, and a supporting jumps meeting at Doncaster. At this point, I have to ask why is Doncaster staging the "Kellys of Cornwall" handicap hurdle? Surely, Exeter would be a better venue for this race seeing as there isn't a racecourse in Cornwall?
One race at Doncaster that I'm interested in is the 1:40pm Class 3 handicap chase over 2m3f, as the 8yo Katgary runs his first chase since reverting to hurdling 12-months ago. He's dropped from a rating of OR140 to OR132 today, and this horse was only beaten a length by San Benedeto here at Doncaster (over an extended 2-mile) on soft ground in March 2017 when in receipt of just 8lb. A repeat of that form would see him win today with ease, and he's currently 10/1 with Paddy Power (9/1 elsewhere). With 4 of his best-5 races (on RPR ratings) over fences, he's a better chaser than hurdler, and he could be in with an outstanding chance in this. The fav Nightfly looks to need to improve to win again from his revied OR130 rating, and Buster Thomas looks a bit one-paced, having been left in a clear lead by a final fence faller when winning his only chase from 8 attempts. KATGARY is definitely worth an eachway wager in this.
The Newbury card today will be a great place to fill the notebook with pointers for the rest of the season. The novice hurdle that opens the day at 12:10pm has been won 5 times in the past 10 years by Nicky Henderson, and he's sent some good horses here to win this. That he hasn't a runner on the race this year is interesting.
The 2-mile novice (handicap) chase at 12:45pm looks a competitive affair, and the race-fav is the Henderson-trained Kaputana who won his recent chase debut at Kempton. However, as a hurdler, he wasn't as good as Knocknanuss but that horse fell on his chase debut before winning NTO (albeit the race-fav fell). One that I expect to be a decent novice chaser is Clondaw Castle, but he's having his chase debut today – if he wins today then he will be good, but this looks a tough ask for a debut. The horse that could be good value is AL SHAHIR, who raced over 2m4f on his chase debut and didn't see the trip out and this 2-mile trip will be much more to this front-runners taste.
The 2m4f handicap chase is tricky to assess as most of these look to be on ratings that are higher than what they should be able to win from! There's no way I can support Beggar's Wishes on OR152, which is 2lb higher than ASO on OR150. The 8yo ASO has not run for over 12 months but when he was last seen he was a quality chaser over this trip and he does go well from a break.
The 3-mile Grade 2 hurdle at 3:00pm has a very strong field, and the fav Wholestone has the best recent form. But I think he's vulnerable at this trip – he's better at 2m4f-2m6f – and it could be that we will see a return to the winners enclosure for SAM SPINNER. He was absolutely top-class last season, when winning at Ascot on 23rd December, and it's likely the tatics adopted that stopped him winning at the Cheltenham Festival. Unless someone happens to that pair, there is no way I can see Unowhatimeanharry winning as he's about 10lb (or more) below his best nowadays and was hammered by Sam Spinner in that Ascot race. Odds of 3/1 about SAM SPINNER look very good to me, as I'd have him the fav for this.
Just the one wager today: SAM SPINNER, £10 win @ 3/1 (available generally), but I won't put anyone off having a sneaky eachway wager on Katgary at Doncaster.
I'm happy with my selection for the Ladbrokes Trophy (handicap) Chase run at Newbury tomorrow, we took the 6/1 about THOMAS PATRICK earlier in the week, and with only 13-runners going to post now, he's best-priced at 4/1. My only regret is not taking the 40/1 about West Approach as I think he will likely finish 4th. There is still 33/1 (5th odds a place 1,2,3) but he will need some luck on his side to finish in the front-3.