Saturday 28th February, 2.50pm, Newbury, 2m 5f, live on Channel 4
Last year at Newbury, Jumps Road took the Ladbrokes Supporting Greatwood Handicap Hurdle for Colin Tizzard at a price of 13/2, a winner by a neck in a small field of six. This season, nine line up in an effort to take the class three title, each entrant having to run the 2m trip on soft ground.
The official going on the hurdles course is soft, but it could vary depending on what the weather does tonight.
Albert Bridge is currently the 7/2 favourite to take this race with 10lb claimer Richie O’Dea helpfully taking a helpful chunk off Emma Lavelle’s 137 rated top-weight.
O’Dea and seven-year-old Albert Bridge were successful in their taking of a 2m class three hurdle at Chepstow last time out, justifying favouritism by finishing over two lengths clear of Rock on Rocky in second on soft.
Indeed, this Cheyne Walkers charge has a history of performing well on tough terrain as well as being a two-time winner at this distance. Being a premium handicap placed flat runner should also be advantageous should this experience be called upon.
Alan King’s First Mohican was so unlucky to fall here back in December, well in touch when hitting the turf as the 13/8 favourite in the 2m class two event. He could only manage third when the 4/1 joint-favourite at Kempton last time out but it won’t take much for this promising seven-year-old to finally fulfil his potential.
A prime example of what he can do is his fourth place in last season’s Grade Two 2m Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle at Kempton Park, finishing behind such Festival fancies as Irving, Amore Alato and Cup Final.
Consequentially, this class three should be easy pickings should this charge of Henry Ponsonby re-find this form. This soft ground will also be advantageous to this 5/1 shout with PaddyPower.
Lucy Wadham’s Attwaal is taking a step down in trip following rides around distances of 20f at Wetherby and Leicester respectively. Attwaal snatched a place in the former on good-to-soft but is so much better at this 2m distance.
Why? Well Wadham’s mount finished seven lengths behind Jennie Candlish’s Cheltenham prospect Sleepy Haven at this distance on his seasonal opener. Under the guidance of former trainer Neil King, the horse also scooped back-to-back 2m wins at Huntingdon and Wincanton at class four level at the tail end of last season.
Attwaal is proven on soft ground and will cause this field some problems in the hands of Leighton Aspell off a mark of 125.
Jim Best’s Kiama Bay is nothing if not experienced having raced nearly 50 times in his four-and-a-bit year racing career with Best and previous trainer John Quinn. Class four wins at Newton Abbot and Fakenham (both 2m) culminated in his runners-up place in a class one Supreme Trial at Haydock in what was a lifetime best run (138) on heavy ground. In with a definite chance at 8/1.
Like Sully will be aiming to pick up back-to-back wins for Richard Rowe. The novice followed a series of disappointing runs at, primarily, 2m to secure a Plumpton win on heavy when a 10/1 shot. This progressive looking seven-year-old will have to step up from this class four hurdle but is in the mix at 8/1.
Nigel Twiston-Davies will be sending Arthurs Secret down in trip following his distant forth placed finish in a strung out field over 2m,5f at Fakenham last time out. The five-year-old has been given a fighting chance off a mark of 120 and is available best priced 12/1.
Bonobo is another 10/1 shout, this time for Evan Williams. This two-time hurdles winner is back following an unsuccessful and, as a result, brief period chasing. His two previous distance wins came at 16f and 17f and has a wealth of flat experience to draw on should it be required in a gritty finish. A question mark over the soft ground.
Tom George’s Baby King was a surprise 33/1 winner in a 2m hurdle at Navan so shouldn’t be discounted here at a price of 12/1. He has failed to complete in his follow up runs, falling at Exeter (17f) before pulling up at Sandown (16f) and nothing will surprise me about this 125 rated hurdler.
Royal Guardsman is another who makes his return from chasing after only ever managing to scoop one place from six runs as a novice. The latter of these runs were at longer distances and this 14/1 shot might just find himself out of his comfort zone back over hurdles at 2m.
Last updated 27th February.