No turf racing today with Limerick and Lingfield both waterlogged but there is a competitive Jumpers Bumper card on Newcastle’s tapeta surface.
Ottonian has his second run since having a wind operation for Donald McCain and must go close having finished third over C&D in a similar contest last month. He is still rated 83 on the level but that mark may flatter him. The vote goes to Manjaam (1.25) who is a dual winner here on the flat over 2m including from a mark of 75 last time and connections look to have found another excellent opportunity. Leading apprentice Laura Pearson – who is taking February off to protect her 5lbs claim for the turf season – took off a valuable 7lbs for those victories on the flat, but Ben Robinson takes over in the saddle for David Loughnane whose string continue to run very well. There was 9/4 available first thing but the selection is 11/8 with BetVictor.
Mackenberg (1.55) won a Carlisle Bumper last term and a novice hurdle at the same track on his seasonal debut. He has failed to build on that run, however, and jumped poorly when nabbed close home at Wetherby before going out like a light at Aintree when last seen at the beginning of December. Donald McCain has given his 6-y-old – 6/4 with William Hill – the best part of two months to get over what was ailing him last time and the selection has an excellent record fresh. He has no all-weather/tapeta experience but is taken to score for his inform stable.
Dan Skelton takes four runners up from the midlands and all have their chance including Not That Fuisse (3.25) who really should have won at Lingfield last time when the post came just too soon on that tight track. Today’s long straight should give Harry Skelton plenty of time to make his run and there seems no reason why Fanzio – who was behind the selection last time – will reverse the form on similar terms. I will be disappointed – and out of pocket – if Not That Fuisse does not go one better although his ability to handle today’s tapeta surface must be taken on trust. The selection is 15/8 with BetVictor.
Adam Nicol got off the mark in the training ranks when Wise Eagle scored over today’s C&D on what was just his third runner since he made the transition from jockey. He looks sure to run his race again, but he carries a 6lbs penalty for that success and this is a much stronger race.
Proschema finished third in the Northumberland Plate here back in 2019 and is a horse I am looking forward to seeing back over timber if the ground ever dries up. He carries a 6lbs penalty, however, for a narrow C&D success last month and my two against the field are Nickolson (3.55) and Tea Clipper with preference for the Olly Murphy horse.
The ew selection – 9/2 with 10bet – disappointed on heavy ground at Sandown last time but he created a favourable impression – at least with me – when landing his sole Bumper at Ayr and then his first start over timber at Wincanton when Richard Johnson had difficulty pulling him up. He is another who enjoys good ground and I hope this tapeta surface is not too deep. If not, he must go close in a terrific race.