Fourteen go to post for a decent looking 0-130 handicap chase at Newbury on Wednesday, run over just shy of three miles. Read on for our expert tips and a runner by runner look at the race.
IN SUMMARY: Doubts over a lot of these with regards to the suitability of the ground, the trip or just their current level of form. Horatio Hornblower would not be winning out of turn back down to his most recent winning mark while Potters Corner is a likely contender providing his stamina holds out. BRANDON HILL gets the vote though as he is the most progressive in the line up, conditions are perfect and there is likely more improvement still to come from him after missing time last season.
1 HERBERT PARK – A very promising novice hurdler, he has lost his way somewhat since going handicapping. Stamina is his strong point with deep ground also a helpful factor for him with wins on both heavy and soft ground. He was below par most recently on his chasing debut, connections swap cheek pieces for blinkers but his runs with headgear have been moderate. all four wins have come without any aids so they are a big concern.
2 MONBEG GOLD – Ran away with a pair of deep ground Exeter hurdles in November 2015 but has struggled for consistency since. His runner up effort on his chasing debut at Fontwell has been well franked with the winner, third and fourth all winning since. He ran very flat over this C&D himself in a subsequent outing when sporting first time cheek pieces. Connections try blinkers now and although the level of form he has shown is enough to be competitive the headgear is a worry.
3 LITTLE JON – A three time winner over fences but he has never really fulfilled his potential given his nasty habit of taking at least one fence by the roots each race. Those three wins have all come on similarly soft ground to what he will face here with one of them at this track. Now eight pounds below his last winning mark, he is very fairly treated but hasn’t shown enough in three starts this year to catch the eye.
4 RATHLIN ROSE – Hasn’t been seen for 601 days but had been a progressive type for the David Pipe yard previously. Twice a hurdle winner over three miles on soft ground, he had little to beat on his chase debut in a three runner contest. The long absence isn’t such a concern for this yard but it isn’t an easy contest to return in and the percentage call is probably to oppose.
5 POTTERS CORNER – A winner on soft ground over hurdles, he has at least run to that level again in a pair of starts over fences. The return to this softer surface is a plus having made both chase starts on good which could be a precursor to an improved display but the concern is that he has looked like his stamina has ebbed away late on over three miles in the past.
6 PEARL SWAN – Was winning for the first time in nearly five years when scoring at Ffos Las in November. He was able to dictate from the front on that occasion and a soft lead looks to be his biggest hope here. He has form on very soft ground in his youth in France but in recent years the rare bits of form he does show tends to be on a sounder surface. He is the sole raider from Peter Bowen’s yard in West Wales though so any market confidence would make him more interesting.
7 BRANDON HILL – Looked very progressive over hurdles in 2014/15 before missing time with a leg injury. He looked in need of his comeback and duly proved that running all wrong when scoring at Warwick last time. This is a deeper race but all three wins have been at three miles on soft ground so conditions are perfect. Tom Lacey boasts a very tasty £66.70 level stakes profit from all his runners this season yet still remains a young trainer slightly under the radar.
8 WYCHWOODS BROOK – The ground cannot be deep enough for this horse with three wins on heavy and two on soft. It’s three years since he won the Peter Marsh chase which was his career best but he won last season at Taunton off 129, three pounds higher than his mark here. He was never travelling with any purpose at Sandown in the Veterans Final and although this is easier, that most recent run leaves him an awful lot to find.
9 ONE FOR THE BOSS – First run over a trip this far since October 2015. Pulled up the last twice, he is ten pounds above his most recent winning mark and now at the age of ten, he is best left alone until he has dropped both in the handicap and back to a more suitable trip.
10 AUDACIOUS PLAN – A dour stayer who is adaptable with regards to ground, he is coming back down towards a workable mark. He was rather laboured, plugging on at one pace at Bangor last time and a return to Ffos Las where both of his wins occurred later in the season would make him of more interest than he is here.
11 BOB TUCKER – Has won on heavy ground in the past but a sounder surface suits him better, He won over a furlong shorter here in 2016 before following up at Kempton over three miles off the same mark of 125 that he competes off here. His stamina has grown as he has aged, running well over 3m5f at Sandown in December before shaping over this C&D last time that this is short enough for him these days.
12 BIG CASINO – Won on soft ground in his youth but is another who would prefer better ground. A win at Stratford in 22.5f was the furthest he has won over, he was placed over the sharp three miles at Uttoxeter on soft in October but didn’t really do enough to shake the doubt that his stamina will be stretched over a trip this far.
13 HORATIO HORNBLOWER – Won off this mark at Ffos Las in March, shaping with a degree of promise at Ascot on his seasonal return before a pair of disappointing efforts at Chepstow and here at Newbury since. The ability is there and perhaps softer ground will help as he won on heavy as a novice hurdler so it would be no surprise to see him finally put it all back together.
14 GET INVOLVED – Just a single win under rules but that came at this track over three miles on soft ground over hurdles. Shaped well on his chasing debut at Cheltenham in April when behind the smart Solstice Son but has failed to back that up in three starts since. Didn’t appreciate the tongue tie on his Sandown return but he will need a career best from this mark to be winning this.