A field of eight go to post for the fifth race of the day at Newbury on Friday, see our betting tips and the full race preview below.
IN SUMMARY: Upped in trip, DEBECE ran a great race to finish third in Class 2 company at Aintree and he gave off the impression more can be expected this time around. He stayed on well that day despite being outpaced turning for home and the softer ground is likely to be a positive today. Tim Vaughan and Alan Johns are both in brilliant form at present and a one pound rise from his last run is very unlikely to stop him gaining his second hurdling win. His main danger looks likely to be Western Sunrise, who is very interesting upped in trip on his second start after a break.
1 HADFIELD – Ran a good race on his penultimate start when third at Ffos Las in November (2m 4f, Good to Soft) but failed to back that up when flopping at Wincanton in January in an arguably easier race, tailing off at a reasonably early stage (2m 5f, Soft). The return to shorter may help and the yard are in good form at present, but he does rate as a risky proposition, and is still above his last winning mark. Possible place claims if back to his best but others make more appeal.
2 DEBECE – Lightly raced six year old who won on hurdling debut at Kempton in May (2m, Good) and has run well on three starts since then. Finishing third at Cheltenham on his handicap debut in November (2m, Good), he took well to the step up in trip when a close third at Aintree despite a 4lb rise in the weights (2m 4f, Good to Soft). He battled on brilliantly that day when gamely fighting back after being out paced, and a one pound rise shouldn’t be enough to stop him taking victory in this now down in class. Tim Vaughan and Alan Johns both remain in brilliant form and he looks the most likely winner of this.
3 REILLY’S MINOR – Showed promise in three hurdling runs for Warren Greatrex before turning in a career best at Kempton on his latest start (2m 5f, Good to Soft), battling on gamely to land the spoils despite a strong challenge from the second. More is certainly required now against tougher opposition, up 9lb in the handicap and he certainly won’t get away with hanging as badly as he did on his latest start here. Likely place contender if improving sufficiently but looks vulnerable now for win purposes.
4 QUARENTA – Lightly raced six year old who was a bumper winner at Lingfield back in December 2015, and hasn’t been disgraced over hurdles thus far. A steady improver for Jonjo O’Neill, he ran a career best when fourth at Taunton on his latest start in January (2m 3f, Good), not beaten far. That form stacks up well with the first and second following up since then and he does have scope for further progress off a mark of 116 on handicap debut. Aidain Coleman takes the ride and he looks a big danger to the selection, and has to be respected as such.
5 LEADEROFTHEDANCE – Winner at Ludlow in October 2015 (2m 5f, Good) but has pulled up the last twice, the latest of those coming in May 2016 at Fontwell (3m 1f, Good). She returns today from a ‘small stress fracture’ in a competitive looking race, with this softer ground not looking likely to suit her. Not one to discount for Nicky Henderson but does look up against it today. Jeremiah McGrath takes the ride but she is far to risky to back with confidence today.
6 BENDOMINGO – Still a maiden for Nigel Twiston-Davies after fourteen starts, but he has been showing positive signs of late. Finishing a close fourth at Doncaster on his latest start was a good effort (3m, Good), but he certainly isn’t improving and looks vulnerable against several horses who are showing progressive profiles. He’s unproven on ground softer than ‘good to soft’ which is another concern and others do make more appeal with all things considered. Possible place claims as he has been consistent this season, but is likely to find at least one too good in this.
7 WESTERN SUNRISE – Won a maiden hurdle at Newton Abbot in March (2m, Good to Soft) and he wasn’t disgraced on two subsequent runs for Johnny Farrelly, finishing second at Uttoxeter in May to cap off the year (2m 3f, Good). He returned this season when well beaten at Taunton in November (2m, Good), never able to get involved and he does look interesting back up in trip on his second start this season. Not one to write off for the places as he is fairly treated on the best of his form and looks likely to have a place chance.
8 AMRON KALI – Got off the mark at the sixteenth attempt at Fontwell in January on stable debut for Paul Henderson (2m 1f, Soft), and she hasn’t been disgraced the last twice when third at both Doncaster and Plumpton. Up another pound and will need more against some arguably tougher opposition today, though conditions are to suit. Can’t be fully discounted but others are far more interesting and progressive.