Since the below was written on Thursday morning the forecast for Newbury on Friday has changed dramatically – thanks BBC – and there is now significant rain expected at the Berkshire track.
Nicky Henderson has saddled the winner of the opening novice hurdle three times in the last six years, and he saddles Kilardine – owned by Her Majesty the Queen – this afternoon. He was was pulled out of a race at Ascot last weekend on account of the ground – good – which was considered too quick and he would want the forecast rain to arrive. A winner of his sole Bumper at Southwell back in the spring he will be winning races over jumps but I expect to see Stage Star (12.10) maintain his unbeaten record over timber.
The selection – 4/6 from 10/11 – finished third behind stablemate Knappers Hill in Aintree’s Grade 2 Bumper back in the spring and easily landed the odds at Chepstow on his reappearance last month. Trainer Paul Nicholls saddled the exciting Bravemansgame to win the corresponding race 12 months ago and it is invariably won by a useful sort.
The novices’ handicap chase is a tremendous race with Mister Coffey and Fifty Ball much respected, but I promised myself I would back Boothill (1.50) next time out after he finished third in a decent handicap hurdle last time when he travelled best but faded close home into third behind the excellent Soaring Glory.
Trainer Harry Fry was quick to blame himself for the defeat suggesting he left his mount a bit short. Boothill would have been a very confident selection were it not for the form of the Fry stable who have had a number run below par in the last week. The selection impressed at a recent televised racecourse gallop and is reported to be a natural over the larger obstacles.
His handler could hardly contain his enthusiasm for the horse when interviewed at Newbury although it is a slight concern that Metier – the stable’s other star – was taken out of the Gerry Feilden at the declaration stage. The hope is that the ground was just considered unsuitable for such a promising horse.
Note since the time of writing the yard’s Whisky Express drifted like a barge at Lingfield on Thursday and ran as well as the drift suggested.
There is also the prospect of showers in the north – why today ! – and I shall be keeping an eye on the weather and the market regarding Barton Knoll (12.30) who won the opening 2m 3f+ handicap chase on the corresponding card 12 months ago from a 4lbs higher mark.
He showed next to nothing at Wetherby on his reappearance but was beaten 12L on his first start last season before scoring here. He should get his own way in front, Sean Quinlan, who was in the plate 12 months ago, returns to the saddle and he is the outsider of the four-runner field. Note he does not want the ground any worse than good to soft.
Remarkably there was 7/1 about on Thursday and that might be the right price on soft ground. The layers who chalked up that price must have a better weather app than mine. The selection is 15/8 with William Hill at the time of posting. That is the right price in decent ground.
Moon King had the third 15L away when a neck second at Chepstow on his reappearance but, on good ground, he would struggle to give two stone to White Walker who goes unpenalized for winning at Catterick in a conditional jockeys’ event.
He would have 6lbs more to carry from tomorrow and Tabith Worsley takes off another 5lbs. Note he is another who would NOT want significant rain.