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The Fighting Fifth and a drop of Hennessy

Capt. Kneesup

Capt. Kneesup

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A cracking race in the Berkshire saw the Memsahib’s grey get up, although she hadn’t backed it because she was busy rallying the troops on the parliamentary front line. Sadly it did Lostintranslation’s chance in after a gallant battle. We’d backed Clondaw Castle for 8s and he went off 11/2 and saw his race out beating a great tussle between Gala Ball and Sully D’Oc. Proper racing. We were properly beaten into third in the Long Distance and we rightly won the last with Hill Sixteen, but Neville’s Cross ran like my old dog, who has been gone for so long you’d be pushed to remember his name.

To be fair I only saw one of the races properly, although I had the commentary on in the background because I am heavily preoccupied with the shifting nuances of Government messaging.

On Wednesday they were entirely on the backfoot and playing with a very unsteady bat. Then the CRG started to gain some PR ground, and today the Government fought back with some extraordinarily weak non-data on catching Covid-19 in a hospitality environment. This tosh was based on some figures taken from a jig-a-jig bar in downtown Kowloon, where frankly you’d be more worried about your nethers and your wallet before you’d think twice about a face mask! More importantly, however, the Scientists and Gove also started a relentless push on the Government’s position, by suggesting that Little Tommy only kiss Granny if she’s hanging onto the outside balcony ledge by her fingertips, 14 stories above the Westway; and similarly, that you don’t play Monopoly unless you’re wearing Hazchem clothing, because it helps spread the disease. Meanwhile fret not. The environment in Supermarkets and especially the Packaging is totally different from the real world. Apparently, the cardboard is a bio-secure material that can be handled by zillions of untraceable zombies, who look askance when you suggest they pop a mask on, while they cough and splutter along every aisle, constantly grabbing, infecting, and then rejecting their entirely random selections.

Talking of random selections, here are today’s racing tips.

1:50 Newbury Get Your Ladbrokes £1 Free Bet Today H’cap Hdl Cl2 (4yo+ 0-150) 2m4½f

Nicky Henderson runs three in this, COLONIAL DREAMS (20/1) – RATHILL (12/1) – CHAMPAGNE PLATINUM (15/2). They’re all seasonal debs, and their pricing is probably about right. The one I don’t get is CHAMPAGNE PLATINUM and my guess is that he is here, having schooled badly over fences. Nicky thought enough of him to have a bash at The Punchestown Festival Novice Hurdle, where he came unstuck. He was 5th as Joint Favourite in The Kim Muir so he has talent (based on financial confidence!) but something is amiss and I’d wait and see. Instead, I’m going to suggest having a punt at HOWLING MILAN who was 4th in this last year off 127 and is back off 123. He gets cheekpieces and is the wrong price. You might remember I tipped Dan Skelton’s FLASH THE STEEL last weekend and he runs again in this, having taken a tumble last weekend. At around 8s I think he’s worth another look – that said there are a lots of threats, so don’t go mad.

FLASH THE STEEL e/w – HOWLING MILAN e/w

2:05 Newcastle Betfair Fighting Fifth Hurdle (G1) Cl1 (4yo+) 2m

If there were eight runners in this, I’d probably have a pop at Nicky Richard’s RIBBLE VALLEY. This will be his second run since wind surgery and on his seasonal reappearance, he won his Carlisle race by 5½l. He was heavily backed for that and cruising up to challenge on a tight rein between the last two, he quickened away when shaken up on the run-in. Of course, he’s up against it, with EPATANTE, the reigning Champion Hurdler and the others aren’t shabby either. SILVER STREAK was a 3l 3rd to CORNERSTONE LAD in this last year, and he has followed exactly the same prep as last year, winning precisely the same race en route.He was however runner-up to EPATANTE in the Christmas Hurdle and again behind her in the Champion Hurdle. CORNERSTONE LAD was a surprise winner for Micky Hammond last year at 16/1, but that was on heavy ground and this year’s renewal is on much quicker ground. Overall I think this is what I shall do…

EPATANTE Win – ¼pt e/w at 50/1 for RIBBLE VALLEY e/w The Champion Hurdle.

2:25 Newbury Ladbrokes (Blah Blah) The Gerry Feilden Hurdle H’cap Cl1 (4yo+ 0-155) 2m½f

Talking of EPATANTE, she won this last year before she went on to win the Champion Hurdle. This year Nicky brings MARIE’S ROCK who is unbeaten on all her three starts and spent much of last season as favourite for The Mares Novice Hurdle until her season ended with an injury. Hendo thinks she is very special and has real class and she carries a Timeform Capital P, which as you know, always gets me excited.  Her USP is her blistering finishing speed and on this ground that will be seen to great effect, I suspect. FLORESSA is rejected by Nico de Boinville because of the outcome of the Cheltenham Festival Novice Hurdle, where the ground completely undid her. She got wound up beforehand, (didn’t we all!), and appeared at the time to be a horse looking for a Flat track on good ground. I wouldn’t write FLORESSA off too quickly. Of the others, MILKWOOD last ran in the Welsh National where he was 6l adrift of the winner, the tank having emptied quite quickly at the 15f mark. THYME WHITE was impressive beating the PINK’N LTO, who has also finished 2nd to BOTOX HAS in his last race. I am happy to ignore all three.

MARIES ROCK Win – FLORESSA e/w

3:00 Newbury Ladbrokes Trophy Chase (H’cap) (G3) Cl1 (4yo+) 3m2f

I suggested last year – why would you remember – that after 30 or so years, races that are known as The Schweppes for example should be given that title. Thus The Schweppes sponsored by Gordon’s Gin would be a brilliant race. The Hennessy sponsored by Ladbrokes would be perfectly acceptable, Waterford Crystal would be nicer. But I digress. All the trends point me to KILDISART, while the two Kim Bailey horses, give me cause for concern over my selection. KILDISART ran well to be 3rd in the G2 West Yorkshire Hurdle LTO, in which race COPPERHEAD was PU. Back in cheekpieces today for only the 2nd time, his penultimate race was a neck 2nd to THE CONDITIONAL in The Ultima Handicap Chase at Cheltenham. He has a fair mark today and a real chance. One that doesn’t meet the trends is LA BAGUE AU ROI, who has been such a tremendous servant to Warren Greatrex. Never stops trying, always willing, still only aged 9, 5lb better than her last winning mark which was back in Feb 2019. She’s never been beaten at Newbury and even if only for “Luck Money”, a concept I shall have to explain to you all one day, she’s worth a bit of mine.

KILDISART Win – LA BAGUE AU ROI e/w

3:15 Newcastle Betfair Exchange Rehearsal H’cap Chase Cl1 (4yo+) 2m7½f

Nicky Richards seems to have a nice portfolio of horses this year, but I had heard that something of a mucky virus had gone through the yard, a case of Sport imitating Life. I am assuming he is over it and that TAKINGRISKS who won this last year, is not here for the carrots. He is only 4lbs worse than that victory and there is much to like about this horse, especially the price and the likelihood he’ll make the frame. Oh yes – this is also his first run after a wind-op. I fancy WHATMORE to win this, however, after his Festival fourth in Tuesdays Listed Novice Chase and his good second at Ascot LTO when he was fancied.

WHATMORE Win – TAKINGRISKS e/w

3:35 Newbury Watch Racing Free Online At Ladbrokes H’cap Chase Cl2 (4yo+ 0-150) 2m½f

One day HATCHER will deliver again and perhaps I am stretching it to suggest that today is the day. THE KING OF MAY however may. Brian Ellison’s charge is potentially very good, and although something seemed to go amiss two races back, he was right on song again LTO. His chasing debut saw him beat Esprit du Large who went on to take Sandown’s Henry VIII, and a couple of other useful types. This could turn out to be a tactical race and with eight runners, 8/1 is great e/w value.

THE KING OF MAY e/w

Other Races not on TV

12:10 Newbury: POLITESSE e/w. She won a Maiden Hurdle at Thurles at the end of March and that race has produced seven individual winners, including Gordon Elliott’s very useful Fakeira, who is a G3 winner. On official ratings, she’s shy of MRS HYDE and WILL VCTORY, but she’s had a pipe-opener and is better than her mark.

12:40 Newbury: NEXT DESTINATION Win

1:15 Newbury CAP DU NORD (9/1) e/w was 5th in this race last year off 124. He’s now down to 123 having had something of an elevator ride against good horses, but without travelling the judge. In his last run he was noted powering from the back to take 4th and looking like he needed the run. KAPCORSE  (6/1) who won this in 2018 has been off the course for 644 days can’t be ruled out.

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