Seven runners go to post for the penultimate race of the day at Newbury, a good looking handicap chase. See our betting tips and the full race preview below.
IN SUMMARY: Any amount of improvement will see VINNIE RED running out the winner in this. He ran a brilliant race on chasing debut to cruise clear by eleven lengths and a 7lb rise looks likely to underestimate him as he remains with scope for progress in this sphere on only his second chasing start. This step up in trip only looks likely to eek out further improvement and with both jockey Paddy Brennan and trainer Fergal O’Brien in cracking form, he should be very difficult to catch with conditions to suit. Lessons In Milan looks likeliest to chase him home as long as the cheekpieces liven him up.
1 FINAL NUDGE – 137 rated hurdler who has been performing well over fences thus far, winning well on chasing debut in November (3m, Soft). Although possibly not at his best in two runs that proceeded that win, he was much better when winning well Hereford on the first of the month (2m 4f, Heavy). He’s been raised 6lb as a consequence but going back up in trip may well help him and could eek out further progress. Gavin Sheehan retains the ride which is positive and David Dennis has had a winner in recent times, so has to be consider a main contender today.
2 VIEUX LILLE – Not disgraced in three chase starts so far and posted his best effort so far when second in a good quality handicap at Haydock in December, finishing behind Yala Enki (2m 6f, Soft). Jumped well that day and travelled well also to a point, and remains on the same mark for today’s run. Only his four chasing run so still has room for further progress, with Richard Johnson on board today for in form trainer Philip Hobbs. Ground is fine, as is the trip, so is likely to go well and has to be respected as such.
3 LESSONS IN MILAN – Has been running well over fences without winning for Nicky Henderson and never seemed to be travelling when fifth at Newbury on New Year’s Eve (2m 6f, Good to Soft). He did however plug on past beaten horses to finish 15 lengths behind, though he was much further behind turning for home. Cheekpieces go on today which provides hope for much better as he should be perked up by them with Nico De Boinville taking the ride. Only his third run since reappearing this season and has to be respected for Trevor Hemmings as he looks likely to run a much better race this time around with conditions to suit.
4 VINNIE RED – Useful hurdler at his best and ran on strongly to win by an increasing eleven lengths at Market Rasen in December (2m 5f, Good to Soft) on chasing debut. Raised 7lb for that run but that looks likely to underestimate him as he remains with huge scope for progress on only his second start over fences. Fergal O’Brien’s runners are going brilliantly at present and Paddy Brennan is also riding his fair share of winners, and looks the one to beat as with natural improvement he should be more than up to taking this race with conditions to suit.
5 KRIS SPIN – Smart hurdler at his best but has been soundly beaten on both his chasing starts so far for Kerry Lee. Those have both come after layoffs, and he was beaten by 46 lengths at Hereford in January on his last season (2m 4f, Soft). Hard to recommend even with a run under his belt for the inform Kerry Lee yard, and best watched until he shows some more over these obstacles.
6 MUSTMEETALADY – Thrice raced over fences and hasn’t been disgraced the last twice, finishing fourth in a good quality race at Ascot in November (2m 7f, Good to Soft) before a good third at Wetherby when last seen behind an unchallenged front runner (3m, Good to Soft). A mark of 132 shouldn’t be insurmountable for Jonjo O’Neill’s seven year old and he shouldn’t be underestimated, though others do bring better form into the contest. Likely to have each way claims if improving in conditions that will suit, but others have much more interesting claims for win purposes.
7 BOA ISLAND – Twice a winner over fences from five starts, though his last win came four starts ago at Wincanton in a much easier race than this (2m 4f, Good). He wasn’t disgraced when finishing a close third at Chepstow in December in a good looking race (2m 7f, Good), though was well beaten last time out at Taunton with no excuses (2m 7f, Good). Down a pound but softer ground is very much an unknown and others do have much clearer claims, and liekly to be fighting for second at best for Paul Nicholls.