Seven runners go to post for the fourth race of the day at Newbury on Friday, see our betting tips and full race preview below.
IN SUMMARY: Dueling Banjos needs more back at this trip and Dig Deeper has an 8lb rise to contend with so this is best left to VINNIE RED. He showed huge amounts of promise when winning on chasing debut at Market Rasen on Boxing Day, driven clear to an eleven length success. He was perhaps disappointing when third over C&D on his latest start, but he looked out of sorts that day and lost a shoe which gives him a valid excuse. He is capable of much better and a mark of 130 could well be severely underestimating his potential in this sphere, so is taken to go 2-3 over fences for Fergal O’Brien.
1 WILD WEST WIND – Rated 123 over hurdles but he’s come into his own over fences, winning on hurdling debut at Wincanton in January in easy fashion before taking another step forward when winning at Hereford in February (3m 1f, Heavy). Raised 3lb for that latter success, he jumped poorly when beaten by Label Des Obeaux at Exeter last month, unable to quicken due to those mistakes throughout. He’s still however on a seemingly competitive mark as he wasn’t beaten that far despite the mistakes and could resume his progress for Tom George in suitable conditions. Likely main contender under Adrian Heskin and is respected.
2 DIG DEEPER – Raced exclusively over fences for Caroline Bailey and posted a clear career best when winning at Huntingdon on his latest start, powering clear for an eleven length success (2m 7f, Soft). He has been raised 8lb as a result but he remains with scope for progress over the larger obstacles and the yard remain in form at present. Harry Skelton takes the ride and conditions are suitable, so perhaps he could take another step forward in this and go close. Respected.
3 VINNIE RED – Showed huge amounts of promise on chasing debut when storming clear at Market Rasen on Boxing Day, winning easily (2m 5f, Good to Soft). Raised 7lb, he had a genuine excuse for his third over C&D on his latest start and despite that, he still finished reasonably close in third. He’s likely to resume his progress this time around and a mark of 130 looks to severely underestimate his potential for Fergal O’Brien. Paddy Brennan takes the ride and he looks tough to beat in this at his best.
4 DUELING BANJOS – Has been rejuvenated by the cheekpieces on his last two starts, finishing second at Leicester on his penultimate start (2m 6f, Soft) before going one better when winning at Ffos Las, the odds on favourite (2m 3f, Heavy). He was likely better than the result suggests as he idled badly towards the finish and he remains on the same mark for this run under David Bass. His best efforts have been over shorter though and he certainly needs more now up in trip for Kim Bailey, though cannot be discounted with any sort of confidence. Place claims and deserves a second look.
5 SYKES – Won three starts ago at Chepstow in December despite being keen early on but has taken two steps backwards the last twice for Philip Hobbs. He was bitterly disappointing when well beaten over the same C&D three weeks later and he took a very nasty fall at the first fence on his latest start at Taunton. He remains 3lb above his last winning mark and although he remains with potential for improvement over fences, but it’s hard not to think that his confidence may be zapped.
6 BELLS OF AILSWORTH – Seven year old who won unseated early on at Market Rasen (2m 5f, Good to Soft) on Boxing Day (in the race won by Vinnie Red) but returned to winning ways at Taunton last month (2m 7f, Good), though all of the fancied runners had issues and he was left to pick up the pieces. Nevertheless, you can only beat what is in front of you and it was a good performance and he has been raised 3lb as a result, with this being a much tougher race. Possible place claims with Alan Johns negating the penalty but he looks vulnerable in this class.
7 CHIC NAME – Rated 132 over hurdles but his chasing career has not gone as expected for Richard Hobson and he has been dropped 5lb in the handicap after his latest defeat at Huntigndon three weeks ago behind Dig Deeper (2m 7f, Soft). Amateur enlisted for this run and he looks a very unlikely winner despite being extremely well handicapped based on his hurdling mark, with his chasing mark 10lb lower. Nevertheless, he’s impossible to put forward.