Saturday 28th February, 2.15pm, Newbury, 2m 5f, live on Channel 4
Three and a quarter miles await the contenders here on soft ground at a guess. As they are all aged ten or more thanks to the race conditions, we have no excuses regarding the form book but plenty of reservations regarding who is on the slippery slope towards retirement.
The six year history of this race gives us precious few clues with six different trainers and only A P McCoy winning it more than once from the saddle, and he doesn’t ride in the race this season anyway. The main clue I managed to take out of looking over previous results was five out of six were as young as it is possible to be at the age of ten and that may be worth looking at with “youth” on their side?
Our free tip for the Betway Supporting Greatwood Veterans Handicap Chase is:
Relax at 14/1 EW with Bet365
One of Venetia Williams two she’s sending, he fits the age trend nicely slotting in at 10 years old. He’s had two runs already this year, following a prep run in December, and in my experience three runs is about what it takes to get horses back towards their key fitness. Aidan Coleman rides again and is a solid booking, and the handicapper has kindly taken another 2lb off. That knocks him down to 132, the same as his last winning mark, and firmly in contention.
He’d prefer a bit of rain, like most of these, but I think he’ll go on good ground and while he was beaten 18 lengths last time by Soll he wasn’t given a very hard time of it at all after approaching the 2nd last all wrong.He gets an 11lb swing for that and that was a poor run but his standards so he’s on a very fair weight. He’s not the quickest horse so a solid gallop to make this into a bit of a stamina test combined with a bit of rain and he’ll have a bit part to play at anywhere near his best.
Top weight Poole Master represents David Pipe who seems to have his string in good form when it really matters, but I have to add that the son of Fleetwood has never won beyond two and three quarter miles and this stamina trip carrying eleven stone twelve (three pounds more than he has every carried to victory) looks to be asking a little bit too much of him to me.
Stable mate Soll could be interesting and looks as if he could well be the first choice for David Pipe with Conor O’Farrell in the plate. He stayed on strongly over three miles at Exeter suggesting this distance may not be an issue. First time blinkers at his age intrigue me, and suggest he may well have his own ideas as he heads toward a well-deserved retirement, though off a rating of 139 a victory would represent a career best effort.
Young Harry Fry is a trainer going places, and if he thinks Triangular is fit enough for a race of this standard after over a year off that is perfectly possible as we know he is quite capable of getting one fit if needed. He’s one to keep an eye on, especially if the betting market speaks loudly enough in his favour. However, with over a year off the track racked up, he’s entitled to come on for the run and it would be a huge training performance from young Harry Fry to get him home in front.
Three others need a mention as they are all course and distance winners (which can be a decent enough clue). Possibly headed by Roalco De Farges who also hits the age group criteria, but the market’s reacted and put him in as 3rd favourite at 8/1. Lightly raced this season, he won first time out at Cheltenham, but has been soundly beaten since at Ascot and Chepstow and may still be a little high in the weights, leading me to West End Rocker. A true veteran at the age of thirteen, he may have found Warwick came a bit too son after his win at Lingfield on Heavy ground. Given a month plus off to recover, he should be fit and raring to return here and could run in to a place at least despite his advancing years. However, at 12/1 I just can’t see him having enough of a chance of winning he loves a slog, and I think this trip will be too sharp for him. Finally, Venetia Williams hopes to send Ballyoliver here and he would also enter the equation at his very best. Generally speaking I would dare to say his form is not quite good enough to take this but the handicapper is slowly relenting and he could be close to getting back down to a winning mark at last.