One of the iconic weekends in jump racing kicks off early with a superb Friday card.
The highlight for most will be the long distance hurdle match up between the long absent erstwhile champ Thistlecrack and current star Unowhatimeanharry. Obviously the long layoff for Thistlecrack is an issue, but he’s frankly in a different league and should win easily for those who like to take evens about a 1/3 shot.
The second race looks like a tight handicap of promising novices. We have been close followers of our friend Phil’s horse Bigmartre. Trainer Harry Whittington is in flying form and is targeting this promising chaser down the route he took with Arzal when winning this in 2016. BigM was very fluent at Ludlow and this flat galloping left handed track should fit like a glove.
The closing handicap sees previous blog selection Beneagles look to make amends after a staying on never-nearer third here on seasonal debut. That was a bit of a moody effort and it’s no surprise to see a visor fitted today. The bare form is itself enough to go close, the improvement for a run for one of Alan King’s horses entitles him to be favourite, so any extra from the visor adds the juice for punters.
Earlier, trainer Venetia Williams can add to the legendary mid-winter stable form burst. The usual slow start has started to turn, and Willie Boy‘s win here a few weeks back was the first sign of that swing. He is back off a 6lb higher mark for that tidy win, and this is probably a tougher race, but once one of Venetia’s hits full stride it can be hard for the handicapper to keep up.
Bigmartre, 1250 Newbury, 1pt win, 9/2 generally available
Willie Boy, 1425 Newbury, 1pt win, 10/3 generally available
Beneagles, 1535 Newbury, 1pt win, 5/1 generally available
All three above, 0.5pts each way treble, approx 142/1
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