Race Time: 1.15pm Meeting: Newbury Day: Saturday 28th November Full Race Name: Sir Peter O’Sullevan Memorial Handicap Chase
An ultra competitive handicap chase kicks off proceedings on Saturday afternoon for Channel 4 with plenty of early declarations to try and sift through ahead of race time. Paul Nicholls has won this race twice fairly recently with That’lldoboy and Officier De Reserve and he has decided to rely on Ceasar Milan, which almost caught us off guard. He has own a point to point over three miles but never beyond two miles three under rules which concerns us regarding the trip today. He was also pulled up on his return to the track at Stratford when never attacking his fences from the start and although they may have him back to his best, there are just too many negatives to overcome for us to recommend him today.
Meanwhile, Venetia Williams is said to be pretty sweet on the chances of Shangani here, and who are we to argue? At his peak at the age of nine, he has wins at Sandown, Catterick, and here over fences already, and ran a blinder when runner ups to Howlongisafoot at Taunton despite tiring as the reached the last fence. He was blowing quite hard after the race so clearly needed it, and seems sure to improve considerably with that run under his belt, and off the same handicap mark this afternoon he must have a really good chance in our opinion.
Nigel Twiston-Davies is responsible for Big Casino and he is one of those horses that pops up at a big price every now and again, but can he do it here. For reasons unknown, connections keep persevering over three miles without success which is a surprise when a quick glance at his race record shows all his wins have been between two miles and two miles five (and a half), but then again he has been dropped a couple of pounds for failing to get home at Cheltenham over a lot further and may now have a better chance here all be it each way, and at a trip that ought to be within his stamina abilities.
Alan King is a trainer we watch with interest and although we doubt he is fit enough to win today, we do think a big run is possible from the long absent Midnight Prayer, who was last seen when ninth to Many Clouds in the Hennessy Gold Cup this time last year. Not seen since for reasons unknown, this is a drop in class as well as in trip, and if he is fully fit (the big question as always), ten he may well rattle a few cages here and may even make it in to a place.
To end with, David Pipe has an interesting contender on his hands with the ex French La Vaticane who they are still trying to work out by the look of things. After rattling up four wins in France he joined his new connections and ran a decent enough second to Theinval at Kempton over two miles five when appearing to weaken, after which he dropped down in trip at Cheltenham when hampered and never getting in a blow over the shorter trip. It does look as if they aren’t really sure about his ideal trip as yet, which makes life all the more interesting, but the general expectation when horses are brought over the channel is that they will improve with our training methods, and could thus be a fair few pounds ahead of the handicapper in the short term at least.