After a cracking King George and a wicked Welsh National already this week, attention on Saturday turns to Newbury for the Challow Novices’ Hurdle.
Champ will do battle with six rivals in the feature race of the day, while there are several intriguing handicap puzzles to enjoy in Berkshire and at Doncaster.
It’s been a case of like name, like nature for Champ so far. Nicky Henderson’s progressive six-year-old comes into this off a hat-trick of wins and looks primed to complete a four-timer here.
Two of those successes came at the back end of last season. So it was pleasing to see the son of King’s Theatre look so impressive over course and distance on reappearance earlier this month.
He sets the standard on that form and looks ready to make the step up into pattern-company with aplomb. With only six rivals on show, he should have what it takes to score at this level at the first time of asking.
Wenyerreadyfreddie defied a 15lb rise to take the Tindle Newspapers Novices’ Chase at Ascot last time out. We don’t think an extra 3lb should provide too much difficulty here.
That was the raider’s second win on the bounce, and it showed a different side of his game, after taking a previous contest by a mammoth 18l – hence the rise by the handicapper.
Nicky Henderson’s charge has the pace and the grit to win this. And with the seven-year-old showing a tendency to jump left, he should be well-suited to the Newbury course.
A chance is taken on Knight In Dubai for Dan Skelton. The trainer was gushing over his chances at Cheltenham in October, and but for a fall four from home, the raider would have been right in the mix.
Being the good folks that we are, we’re giving him another chance. This is a much more straightforward contest than the majority of pattern races he was engaged in last season.
The ground is in his favour too, while a mark of 135 looks more than workable. Add in the solid recent strike rate of Bridget Andrews, and we’re hoping for a decent run at a nice price.
ITV Racing tips:
1:30 Doncaster – Station Master
1:50 Newbury – Knight In Dubai (Lively Longshot)
2:05 Doncaster – Lady Buttons
2:25 Newbury – Sandy Beach
2:40 Doncaster – Kasakh Noir
3:00 Newbury – Champ (NAP)
3:15 Doncaster – Ballyboker Breeze (each-way)
3:35 Newbury – Wenyerreadyfreddie (NB)
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