After last weekend’s incredible showcase of just what racing has to offer, we head into yet another fantastic weekend. Action from Newbury and Newcastle head the bill.
Our horse racing betting expert looks at the action and gives his picks.
A fantastic race that could see the likes of Champ, Black Op and Reserve Tank all face-off happens at Newbury Friday. Champ, the 11/10 favourite, has only lost once in his last 7 starts in which he came runner up to City Island. His reappearance saw him win for trainer Nicky Henderson by 3½ lengths in a dominant display. If he chooses to run here, then it would take something special to beat him.
Paisley Park has been in incredible form during last season and looks to continue where he left off in the Long Distance Hurdle. He’s won his last two reappearances so that bodes well for trainer Emma Lavelle and contributes to the short price of 8/13. Despite owner Andrew Gemmell being nervous about Paisley Park’s return, his pleasing gallop at Newbury earlier this month suggests preparations are going great.
Looking to spoil the party is 11yo Thistlecrack (9/2), the winner of the 2016 King George. His glory days seem to be behind him but that shouldn’t rule him out. Trainer, Collin Tizzard, gave him a racecourse gallop at Exeter recently and he said to have impressed.
Paisley Park looks to be a certainty in this fixture.
2:05 – Hat-Trick for Buveur D’Air?
The Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle Saturday will see Buveur D’Air look for his third consecutive win in the fixture. Many have speculated if this is possible, as the form hasn’t been amazing for the 8yo. Having lost 3 of his last 5 runs, one ending in a fall, many have suggested that it’s not as certain as the 1/3 odds suggest. However, the victories he has had have been in spectacular fashion winning by at least a couple of lengths.
Silver Streak (7/2) is the one to watch in this race, but trainer Evan Williams has already stated that it could be a near-impossible task with a ground playing a factor.
I’d have to back the favourite to get the hat-trick at 1/3.
In Saturday’s opener at the Newbury Festival, Silver Forever looks to be the likely favourite and, partnered with in-form Harry Cobden, is the one to beat. Two wins in her last two starts this season hint that there’s more to come. I wouldn’t be surprised if she goes off as a very short-priced favourite.
French mare Early Morning Rain looked impressive as she romped home seven lengths clear in her reappearance earlier this month and, if she can continue the impressive start, could make a strong challenge.
The Skelton yard are looking to make a strong claim with Ardlethen whose going off a rating of 142. Harry Skelton will ride out making Ardlethen a strong contender.
Danny Whizzbang also cannot be ruled out. The 6yo could go off a false price with a name likened to that of a character from Peaky Blinders, but his fantastic form of three wins from four means he shouldn’t be written off.
Westend Story is priced up as favourite for this handicap chase at 13/2 for trainer Phillip Hobbs, and stablemate Jerrysback is priced at 7/1. Jerrysback will go off the highest weight of 11st 12lbs with the highest official rating and Westend Story 11lbs lighter.
Other notable entries include Highway One O One (14/1) who will be looking to bounce back after a disappointing BetVictor Gold Cup bid a few weeks back. The 7yo unseated jockey Tom Cannon and trainer Chris Gordon will be looking for his horse to improve.
We have a royal entry in Fourth Bridge (25/1) who comes in as an outsider. His results have stuttered since the six-length win at Kempton while ridden by Nico De Boinville and this may also prove too much.
I reckon that Jerrysback will just steal this one, but an EW punt on Highway One O One could have value.
Downtown Getaway, Dan McGrue and Pride Of Lecale are all currently joint-favourites at 6/1 in another tough to call hurdle. Downtown Getaway would be an obvious choice considering his consistent form last season but did suffer from a bump in the road in his last race in which a seventh-place finish wasn’t expected.
Dan McGrue has been in fine form this season under Harry Cobden and the jockey gets the nod once again. His rating has risen significantly from 129 to 137 and will be going off a heavier weight than the other favourites (10st 13lbs), but I still think Dan McGrue will just edge it.
Epatante is towards the top of the market at 9/2 as the 5yo looks to put March’s setback behind her. The Nicky Henderson trained mare had a shimmering record of four wins from five starts until finishing ninth.
A win here would put that disappointing result behind her especially if she beats Elvis Mail (11/2) who won on his reappearance at Ayr. I think she’ll manage.
3:00pm – Glory for Willie Mullins’ Queen?
Willie Mullin’s 7yo mare Cabaret Queen has had a spectacular rise through the ranks since switching hands from Dan Skelton’s yard for a mere sum of £13,000 back in May. A second place in her reappearance and a win off heavy ground at Limerick has seen her rating raised to 146. At 7/1 she looks good value in a race that’s hard to call.
Ok Corral currently sits as the favourite at 6/1 with a good record which isn’t shy of wins. The Nicky Henderson trained 9yo made mistakes in his last outing at Cheltenham back in March which led to him being pulled up but with a clean run, he looks like the horse to beat.
De Rasher Counter has been mentioned frequently regarding this race, and his price has shortened all the way down to 10/1. Multiple big career wins beating high-class rivals has seen De Rasher Counter come under serious consideration from punters. De Rasher Counter at such a price certainly has value and I can see him going all the way.
Lady Buttons (4/1f) will be looking to make it back to back wins this season but will be up against stiff competition from Magic Saint who will be ridden by Harry Cobden. Magic Saint is currently priced at 5/1 and goes off 2lbs lighter than Lady Buttons.
This will be a tight race, but I really do fancy Lady Buttons with Adam Nicol aboard.