Only three go to post for the Beginners Chase at Newbury on good ground but it is a fascinating little contest. Silver Forever returns from a 670-day lay-off but she was a mare I had a lot of time for when last seen. Imperial Alcazar has the build for fences but both he and The Cob may prefer softer ground. One to watch.
Ahorsewithnoname finished runner up on her hurdles debut and first start for Nicky Henderson in a listed mares’ hurdle here 12 months ago although I am not convinced it was the strongest of races. She was beaten over 20L on a return visit here back in February and I will be disappointed if Elle Est Belle (2.00) does not make a winning hurdles debut. The 13/8 available with William Hill on Wednesday looked too big and she is a shade of odds on at 10/11 with MansionBet.
The mare won her first two Bumpers – dead-heated in listed class at Cheltenham – before finishing third at the Festival in the Champion Bumper and runner up in the Aintree Grade 2 at the Grand National meeting. Dan Skelton’s five-year-old is likely to get further in time and this will be the fastest ground she has encountered but she is an exciting prospect and there appears no reason she will not be a big player in mares’ novice hurdles this season.
The extended two-and-a-half-mile handicap chase is a cracker. The handicapper has certainly given Redzor a chance returning from a 600-day lay-off for the Skeltons’, but this trip is on the short side, and he is overlooked although a check of the market is advised.
I am surprised that Alan King has chosen to throw Valleres (3.05) into such a competitive race on his chase debut, but connections must feel that the lack of experience will not prevent him giving his best. The selection – 10/3 with 10Bet – is a half-brother to the stable’s Montbazon who finished runner up in the Aintree Bumper and enjoyed good ground but who never scaled the heights he promised. Dublin Four would have been the selection on softer ground and Oscar Robertson is a horse who has the potential to be well ahead of his mark.
That said Valleres has the scope to be very good over fences and the stable won the corresponding race two years ago with Azzerti who beat Chef D’Equipe who reopposes today from a 5lbs lower mark. The latter is another to consider in a tremendous race.
I am keen on the chances of Grey Atlantic Way (1.12) adding to last month’s C&D success at Sedgefield from an 8lbs higher mark. The selection was just touched off at Ayr last week when I thought he should have won, and he carries just 10st 3lbs this afternoon. The gelding – 5/2 with Boylesports – has improved for the application of cheekpieces and has only had the two starts as a staying chaser. There looks more to come.
The red-hot Donald McCain has a number of good chances at Ludlow and Sedgefield to add to his excellent recent record and Heartbreak Kid is likely to head the market in the concluding novices handicap chase. The vote however goes to Baron De Midleton (3.20) wh9 has been dropped 5lbs for getting beat 5L by the progressive McCain horse Minella Trump here on his reappearance. Brian Ellison’s 8-y-old – 2s with William Hill – has a good course record but do note he would not want the ground to dry out any further than good to soft. Note showers were forecast for Wednesday.