A combination of soft and good to soft ground at Newbury for today’s feature meeting with another dry day forecast in Berkshire. Almost invariably these days two of the seven races are mares’ only contests.

Nicky Henderson won the mares’ novice hurdle on the card two years ago and he is doubly represented this afternoon with Bridal Knot and Tweed Skirt with the latter suggested as the stable first string.

The mare – who holds an entry in a valuable contest at Lingfield on Friday – was a fluent winner at Ascot last time over the minimum trip when she made all in a decent time to beat Go Dante who went on to finish fourth in the Grade 1 Challow Hurdle here last month. She is bred to appreciate todays additional half-a-mile.

The owner Tim Syder had a terrific winner here – Saint Palais – at the last meeting and his Speech Bubble (12.45) ran a race full of promise on her hurdles debut and she gets the vote stepping up in trip.

The selection – 15/8 from 3s with William Hill – was given far too much to do at Lingfield and her jumping went to pieces when jockey Connor Brace finally woke up to the fact that the bird had flown on the well backed winner. The form has not been franked since, but she receives 7lbs from the likely market leader and she did finish second in a listed Sandown Bumper last season. Gavin Sheehan takes over in the saddle this afternoon.

Son Of Camas went out like a light at Ludlow last time and no surprise to see Henderson fit his 7-y-old with first time blinkers this afternoon. He did slightly jump out to his left in Shropshire, and I know there are some in the Lambourn yard who still believe in the 7-y-old. A market move would be worth noting although I said something similar at Ludlow and he was tailed off.

Amarillo Sky (1.50) ran into a very well handicapped rival – Brave Seasca – at Ascot last time and the form was given a boost when the winner followed up at Warwick at the weekend.

Colin Tizzard had a poor December but has had a couple of good winners in the last week and the selection will appreciate the return to a left-hand track having jumped out to his left when scoring at Wincanton on his penultimate start. There was 11/8 about on Tuesday afternoon but he is into Evens with MansionBet at the time of posting.

There is a terrific 2m handicap hurdle, and I am convinced Sheldon is well handicapped dropping back to the minimum trip, but the Seamus Mullins yard are badly out of form, and I cannot support any of his inmates at present having watched Mahler’s Promise go out like a light at Huntingdon on Friday having travelled much the best for a long way.

There are a number of potentially well handicapped horses in the field, but Fine Casting (2.25) stands out having got off the mark over timber at Ffos Las last time dropped back to the minimum trip. A heavy ground Bumper winner last January the selection can be keen, but he settled better last time out in front and a mark of 114 might not be the ceiling of his ability.

*** Do note that the Seamus Mullins yard had a winner at Exeter on Tuesday and as a result I will certainly be keeping Sheldon on side with the 11/1 with William Hill – 4 places considered fair.

Keep Wondering has been put in at 2/1 to land the 3m handicap chase for Philip Hobbs and a 3lbs rise for his narrow Haydock victory last time looks fair given it was a strong race for the grade. I am going to take a chance, however, on Wayfinder (3.00) who ran better than his finishing position would suggest when beaten almost 40L over an additional couple of furlongs here last time.

Adam Wedge – who was in the plate last time – keeps the ride for Rebecca Curtis whose stable remain largely out of sorts but this inmate showed enough for me last time to suggest he would be competitive next time. Do note he was off the track for over 12 months before returning in December and he is now back to the mark from which he scored at Chepstow previously. The opening 13/2 with William Hill – looked a fair each way alternative to the favourite.

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