Race Time: 1.50pm Meeting: Newbury Day: Saturday 13th February 2016 Full Race Name: Betfair Acca Edge Handicap Hurdle Class Two
With the predicted soft ground this three miles is going to take some getting for these handicappers and we may need to look more at a relentless galloper than anything that has exhibited a finishing kick in the past. With only the two horses who won last time out it makes good sense to start with them and that leads us straight to Zeroeshadesofgrey (9/2) who saw off Top Billing by a neck at Doncaster back in December. He was certainly all out that day to win the Class Three handicap off a mark of 138 and will find life a bit more difficult this afternoon with the double whammy of a step up in class added to an additional five pounds but he will appreciate both trip and going unille thne majoriry here nad looks the most sensible bet in a really tough race to second guess.
Richard Woollacott’s Millanisi Boy (11/2) sits much lower in the weights this afternoon with Tom O’Brien in the saddle and he also won last timeout, this time at Chepstow but on heavier going and over a half-mile or so less. Sadly, he was tailed off in a maiden hurdle the only time he has ever tried a trip of this magnitude, and that has to be enough to put us off a little today, though he is lightly weighted and could perhaps make it in to the frame if the race is run at a sensible place.
David Pipe has more than one engaged here starting at the top with Gevrey Chambertin (14/1), who will have a very useful five pounds taken off his back by young jockey David Noonan. He has won over this sort of trip and on this sort of going too at Haydock back in late 2013 and is only rated a pound higher here than he was that day (even before the jockey allowance is taken off), but is rapidly making a name for himself as Mr Inconsistent, rarely running two races the same, and although classy he is also a very risky option.
Batavir (15/2) will be ridden by stable jockey Tom Scudamore who was booked bright and early to take the ride, but was that by choice, or did they want the reduced weight for Gevrey Chambertin we wonder? Gradually slipping down the weights, the seven year old is getting close to a winning mark off of 127, though he is yet to be successful over this far which has to concern for his supporters, though at least the ground has gone to soft which seems to be what he needs these days. They seem pretty eager to run him here, which means he has to be included on the short list for now at least, though the race is a concern with so little evident stamina among the leading contenders.
To round things off, Philip Hobbs has done well with Sykes (4/1) already this season, and has conjured two wins a second a third and a fourth out of him already! He stays this trip and more, unlike half the other runners, and may have been all at sea on the heavy ground at Chepstow last time out though we do fear he may have to make his own running – a slow pace would not suit him at all, and would stop him being able to use all that stamina to his best advantage.