There was the prospect of showers hitting Newbury on Thursday and Friday ahead of today’s seven-race card. Conditions were described as good yesterday morning and I am sure the executive will want some rain to make sure the word firm does not appear in the going description.
There is a terrific handicap hurdle and Hang In There (1.00) was backed from 33/1 into 12s for the Imperial Cup before he was correctly withdrawn on account of the horrible ground. The ew selection – 4s at MansionBet from 6s – failed to get home over 2m 4f here earlier in the season but led three out and is 5lbs lower in the weights. His jumping went to pieces at Kempton when last seen over Christmas and the hope is that he has been waiting for this better ground. All seven hold realistic claims but the Emma Lavelle-trained 6-y-old gets the each way vote. Crooks Peak is better than he showed at Plumpton last time and looks overpriced at 10/1.
Admiral Barratry didn’t appear to appreciate being caught out on the wing at Sandown last time and did not jump a twig. A return to a left-hand track will suit he remains open to further improvement over fences although he would like to see some of the forecast showers. Minella Bobo (1.30) bounced back to form when scoring at Hereford last time when he made most in his first-time cheekpieces.
Aidan Coleman takes over in the saddle this afternoon and his record on the grey reads 21. The ew selection – 11/2 with 10Bet – has been raised 8lbs for last month’s success, but he remains well handicapped on his hurdles form. Horses from the Rebecca Curtis yard rarely run up a sequence in my experience, but he gets the each way vote in another competitive handicap.
Hes No Trouble (2.40) was another galvanised in first time cheekpieces when scoring at Wetherby over 2m 3f+ last time and today’s additional three furlongs should suit Kim Bailey’s 8-y-old – 5s with Boylesports – who comes from the family of a Gold Cup winner Looks Like Trouble. The 8lbs rise is no help but he did win on good ground over hurdles and this winning pointer gets the vote ahead of the Colin Tizard trained Premiumaccess who may not have quite got home at Wincanton last time over an additional three furlongs. The stable had a couple placed at the Festival last week, but their overall form remains inconsistent.
There are four ultra-competitive £30k handicap hurdles at Musselburgh where there is significant rain forecast and conditions are likely to be on the soft side of good come post time. That should suit Bullion Boss (3.40) who can confirm C&D form with Arnica on 3lbs worse terms -including jockey’s allowances – for the 2L he was ahead of that rival at New Year. The selection – 9/2 with William Hill – is only five and faces largely exposed rivals. He is likely to be ridden more prominently than was the case when he was never competitive over a slightly shorter trip here last time.