Race Time: 2.40pm Meeting: Newbury Day: Friday 27th November 2015 Full Race Name: bet365 Open Handicap Chase Class Two
As handicaps go this looks as tricky as they come, but all the more fun to work on and we will be surprised if the winner is not in our five against the field. Trainer Colin Tizzard has his horses in fine form as witnessed by Cue Card for example, and as he won this race in both 2009 and 2010 (with Mount Oscar), we need to look in depth at Kings Lad (12/1) who is his sole runner from two early entries. Placed in both races so far this season he started with a third behind Hennessy hope Smad Place at Kempton which is no disgrace, and may have found the two miles too short for him these days when runner up to Doctor Phoenix when forced to make the running in a three horse contest, but back up in trip and off the same handicap mark, he could well be in the mix today coming over the last fence, though we do hope Brendan Powell is allowed to cover him up and not told to bowl along in front to be swallowed up by the chasing pack.
Those of us looking for decent outsiders in the top races this season had hoped that Next Sensation (33/1) would take the step up from handicaps to the big time, as had trainer Michael Scudamore, but so far that looks little more than a pipe dream with the eight year old chaser letting us down not once but twice already this season. We an forgive him his return to action at Cheltenham by assuming he needed the run, but last time out over further at the same venue he was only tenth of twenty to Annacotty, weakening over the two and a half mile plus trip, so why have they even entered him here? He did win a three-mile point to point but since then all victories have been around the two-mile mark so we do wonder why they persevere, but one day he will bounce back to his best, we just hope we back him when he does and it is today, though even a place would still pay out very handsomely.
Top weights have that burden for good reason most times, and Top Gamble (14/1) has that honour here for trainer Kerry Lee who has had three winners from her last six runners which is pretty impressive. The daughter of Richard Lee, she has clearly taken off in training terms and if she can get the seven year old back to his best he has a great chance. Last season the son of Presenting took four races at Wetherby, Warwick, Ayr, and here at Newbury (over two miles), and signed off in Scotland with a ten length romp from Seventh Sky which saw him put up a remarkably generous two pounds. Pulled up on his return at Chepstow after some uncharacteristically poor jumping, he will have been well schooled since and should strip fitter this afternoon, though eleven stone twelve is quite a steadier, and won’t make his life any easier.
From one extreme to another and No Buts took the race last year off a low weight and Tom George will be hoping that Roc D’Apsis (14/1) can do something similar off of ten stone five. His win at Stratford on his first run for four months caught everyone by surprise hence his starting price of 16/1, and has seen him put up ten pounds by the handicapper, but that way he does at least get in to this race off a proper weight and with the excellent Paddy Brennan in the saddle he may have a better chance than his odds imply today.
To end with, the booking of Noel Fehily to ride Upsilon Bleu (12/1) catches the eye as Pauline Robson looks to get him back to winning ways after some superb races last season as well as victories at Auteuil (over hurdles) and Wetherby. Places behind the likes of Mr Mole and Runswick Royale mark him out as pretty decent, and with a third to Rascal at Ayr last April, he does have the profile of an interesting option for the each way players. Sadly, his stable seem a little slow out of the blocks so far this season with just the one runner in the last two weeks, which is enough to put us off, but we will be watching his progress with interest here to see where they might send him next when race fit.