An intriguing contest is in prospect in this marathon handicap at Newbury on Friday, see our betting tips and the full race preview below.
IN SUMMARY: After showing some good form over hurdles during the winter, going up in trip on the flat should be the making of RAINBOW DREAMER, who can gain his second victory on the turf for Alan King. An improver on the flat last season, he won twice over hurdles and was pitched into the Fred Winter on his latest hurdling start, finishing twelfth but not disgraced. He returned to the level with a creditable third at Leicester two weeks ago and he should relish this step up in trip off a mark of 88, which looks likely to underestimate him. He can be chased home by Star Rider and Swashbuckle.
1 WARRIOR OF LIGHT – Top weight whose last win came way back in July 2014, though he hasn’t race many times since then, returning from a year absence at Meydan in January when forth over the 1m 6f trip. He didn’t however back that run up when upped to the two mile trip at the same venue in February, fading badly and never better than midfield during the contest. Now returns from another short absence with question marks to answer, with only one win on the turf in the past and his stamina far from assured. Perhaps best watched on this occasion.
2 STAR RIDER – Strong stayer at this trip for Hughie Morrison and he was progressing nicely towards the end of last season on the flat, posting a career best when winning at Newmarket in October in comfortable fashion. He has had three hurdling runs since with three good efforts, winning on hurdling debut before a third on his second start. Returns from 86 days off but he’s fitter than most and can go well fresh nevertheless. Conditions are to suit and these extra few furlongs should suit him massively, as he’s proven his stamina for this far over timber. 5lb higher than his latest run but if he resumes his progress from last season he should go very close under Jimmy Fortune.
NR FARQUHAR – Won a heritage handicap at Newmarket back in October 2014 for Peter CHapple-Hyam and was performing well for that yard when last seen, finishing forth at the same venue in August 2015 over the 1m 5f distance. First run for the Michael Appleby yard today after a 601 day lay off which makes things quite tough, but if returning at peak fitness he’s a very intrugiing runner as he’s hinted in the past he could relish this sort of distance. He placed off a higher mark back in 2015 and if ready to roll on reappearance he has each way claims under De Sousa, watch the market.
4 OCEANE – Won two staying races last year, with the latest of those coming at York in August off a 6lb lower mark. He has however struggled on three subsequent runs off this mark, last seen in March on the all weather when well beaten in 1m 5f handicap. He should be happier back up in trip and on the turf, but he has something to find with Star Rider, who beat him at Goodwood back in July 2016 in comfortable fashion. Race fit and should be ready to go for this, but he may just be settling for places again with a turnaround with Star Rider looking unlikely.
5 HAVANA BEAT – Third in the Yorkshire Cup back in May 2015 and in general he was formerly a smart stayer, though he hasn’t been anywhere near that form for a good while now. Although he was second in a 1m 4f handicap at Ffos Las back in September, he has been beaten comfortably on his last three starts, last seen on the all weather when only able to muster up seventh at Newcastle in a two mile handicap. Now down to a mark of 92 and if he sprung back to life he’d be hugely dangerous, but that doesn’t seem likely and he’s too risky at present.
6 CHAMPAGNE CHAMP – Won three of his last five starts for Rod Millman, taking his third win on his penultimate start at Salisbury in October in a 1m 6f handicap. Raised 6lb, perhaps the race came to soon at Doncaster where he was last seen, well beaten in sixth. Down 2lb in the handicap and he may have more to offer this season, with his stamina all but assured and conditions to suit. Likely player under Jim Crowley and has to be respected.
7 GUARD OF HONOR – Six year old who has some good form on the the level, though an overall record of one win from thirteen starts doesn’t inspire much confidence. He has been unable to land a blow on his last three starts, last seen as a beaten favourite at Dundalk in January, only ale to muster up fifth. Only down a pound in the handicap and looks high enough at the weights, 5lb above his placed effort over in Ireland back in October 2015. Others look far more likely.
8 RAINBOW DREAMER – Progressive on the flat for Alan King and capped off last season when finishing a good second at Salisbury in August, subsequently running well over hurdles for the trainer. Twice a winner over timber, he was set a very tricky task in the Fred Winter at the Festival where he finished twelfth, fading up the run in. He did prove his stamina for two miles though over timber and this should be much easier than his hurdling assignments. Likely to play a big role if at top form on the level and shouldn’t be ignored.
9 SWASHBUCKLE – Lightly raced four year old who has looked very progressive in recent starts for Andrew Balding, last seen on the turf when third at York in September, staying the two mile trip well. He got in his fitness run when third at Newcastle last month, travelling up strongly but not given a particularly hard time of it after the two furlong mark so he should be capable of much better this time around. Oisin Murphy takes the ride and this unexposed sort looks booked to go close.