The penultimate race on Newbury’s card is a 14 runner handicap, see our betting tips adn the full race preview below.
IN SUMMARY: Preference is for the ever improving handicap debutant GEORDIE DES CHAMPS, who has won his last 4 races, the last three of those being novice hurdles. He now enters handicaps on an attractive looking mark and could capitalise immediately for Barry Geraghty and Rebecca Curtis. Others to note are Kings Bandit who was going well when falling at Navan latest and Court Minstrel who drops in grade but has work to do off 11st 12lb.
1 COURT MINSTREL – Will be tough off top weight and needs good ground to show his best form, however he does finally drop out of graded company and will find this easier. Could have each way claims as long as the ground dries out a bit more.
2 BOITE – Raised 7lb for his latest win at Wetherby (2m, Good to Soft) which will make things tougher but the extra distance should help eek out more and he has each way claims if the rise doesn’t hurt him too much.
3 BORN SURVIVOR – Beaten favourite on his latest start here over C&D last month (2m 4f, Good to Soft), losing out by 10 lengths but his mark remains unchanged. That tempers enthusiasm and others have stronger claims today.
4 LAC FONTANA – Last seen 632 days ago when never involved in a Grade 3 at Aintree (3m, Good to Soft), and makes his belated return today. On a very attractive mark on previous form but hard to know if he’ll be as good as he wants and probably best left alone.
5 KINGS BANDIT – Only twice raced for this yard and showed promise on his first run for Gordon Elliot, finishing 5th at Cork in November (2m 4f, Soft to Heavy). He did however fall at Navan a few weeks ago (2m 4f, Soft to Heavy), going well at the time before coming down with 3 fences to go. Still early days and is on an attractive looking weight, so has to be respected.
6 JOHN CONSTABLE – Handicapper certainly has his number, as shown by a string of midfield runs including a 6th last time out at Cheltenham (2m, Soft). Probably needs him to relent further before he can be considered for win purposes.
7 WILLOW’S SAVIOUR – Emptied very, very quickly at Ascot two weeks go on his first hurdles start for a while and doesn’t make much appeal today.
8 ROYAL GUARDSMAN – Has lost his way since winning at Newbury in November 2015 (2m 3f, Soft), pulling up on two of his last three runs. May struggle again today against inform horses and improvers.
9 NEXIUS – Hasn’t shown much in his last four runs, including his latest 6th of 7 at Kempton in early November (2m 5f, Good). Hard to get excited by his chances today.
10 GEORDIE DES CHAMPS – Handicap debutant who has won three times in maiden company under Barry Geraghty for Rebecca Curtis, winning nicely on all three occasions coming home fast and late. Steps into handicaps on what looks like a very attractive weight and he may well be able to capitalise on his first attempt.
11 FLORESCO – Still needs to prove his stamina over this far and is now 6lb higher for his latest win at Newton Abbot back in May (2m 2f, Good). Others have more convincing claims today.
12 BARIZAN – Last win came back in May 2013 at Haydock (1m 7f, Good) and although he’s been a good servant, he’s a very unlikely winner of the race.
13 THELIGNY – Has been progressive for sure with 3 wins out of his last 4 races, and probably had an excuse for his latest 2nd here with the drop back to 2 miles not in his favour. Very interesting contender for Tim Vaughan with Alan Johns taking off 3lb and shouldn’t be far away.
14 MUTHARIS – Last seen April when 11th of 16 at Cheltenham (2m 4f, Good to Soft), and that lack of a run for this is off putting. 5lb higher than his course win back in March (2m 4f, Soft) and as impressive as he was that day, he just might struggle with no run under his belt.