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ONE of the biggest staying handicap chases in the national hunt season, the Coral Gold Cup (Hennessey), has always been a race close to my heart both from a brilliant sporting event point of view and a punting medium and I am very keen on KITTY’S LIGHT going very close here in the Newbury 2.50.
This diminutive chaser has chalked up seven wins from 23 chases including last season’s Scottish National and Bet365 Chase, both off the same mark of 140. This year trainer Christian Williams has protected his current handicap rating by running the seven-year-old in two hurdles and to be fair he was far from disgraced in the first of them when a staying on fourth of eight behind Crambo over an insufficient two-and-a-half miles.
Set to race off 147 here and with the brilliant chase jockey Nick Schofield on board he only has to stay in touch early on to make his deep stamina pay off in the closing stages. The dry weather forecast is also very much in his favour and I can see him passing plenty of his 19 rivals from the home turn and hitting the frame at the very least.
Of his rivals, the drying ground is sure to suit the likes of Monbeg Genius and Midnight River, but the biggest danger could be the admirably consistent Eldorado Allen. He had been plying his trade at the highest table of chasing through the last two years and his handicap rating of 154 and a lovely racing weight of 10-13 gives him outstanding claims of once again playing a part in the finish of this famous race.
But my best bet on the card comes just over an hour earlier (1.40) when the step up to two-and-a-half miles for the very first time should suit ANYHARMINASKING perfectly.
All of his best form has come on a relatively sound surface, good to soft is fine, and on the soft ground at Cheltenham he was just taken out of his comfort zone in the Greatwood Handicap Hurdle two weeks ago.
Dropped a pound in the ratings to a mark of 136 allied to the better conditions and step up in trip, it all adds up to a massive run at a double figure price. Of his 10 rivals, I make Jet Powered the biggest danger after he hosed up on his timber topping debut, he was then reported to have a problem when running very freely and down the field on his second start back at the Berkshire track.
I suspect Nicky thinks he is very well handicapped off his current handicap mark and first time out could be the time to catch him here before he possibly goes chasing later on in the season so he could be worth a saver behind the selection.
On the rest of the Newbury card I shall also be having an interest on KAYF DANCER in the opening two-and-a-half mile novices hurdle at 1.05 and on REAL STONE in the finale at 3.25.
Following his antics at Ascot last week, when he whipped around at the start, Shishkin bids to make amends in the Rehearsal Handicap Chase (Newcastle, 3.05). His presence means that all of his seven rivals will be able to carry lovely racing weights and of course there can be no guarantees that Nicky Henderson’s star won’t replicate his antics from seven days ago.
In the circumstances, the play is back something each way against the top weight and ELVIS MAIL fits the bill.
The nine-year-old is on a real roll and absolutely hacked up in the Edinburgh Gin Chase at Kelso and has only gone up 4lbs in the weights. If he can dominate his field from the front again, I suspect that he will have plenty of these in trouble turning for home.
It is hard to oppose CONSTITUTION HILL in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle due off at 1.55, so a better value bet at the Gosforth Park card could be SILVER IN DISGUISE in the three-and-three-quarter mile BetMGM Handicap Chase at 1.20. A closing length second in the lung-bursting Highland National at Perth last year, a mark of 122 requires a wee bit more, but he should be at peak fitness here following a third at Carlisle on his opening run this season and gets the vote ahead of Geryville.
I think that FLORIDA DREAMS is way better than his opening run at Ayr this season and can prove it by landing national hunt maiden hurdle at 12.10, while CALL ME HARRY can outstay his fellow novice rivals when he runs in the two-and-three-quarter mile The French Furze Novices Hurdle at 12.45.
Good ground is going to be the port of call at Doncaster and to that end I will be having a significant interest on SOARING GLORY in the two-mile handicap hurdle at 1.31. The Jonjo O’Neill charge simply didn’t get home over 2m5f at Kempton Park last time out and this drop back to the minimum trip off a handicap mark of 135 looks made to measure for the eight-year-old.
We have yet to see the best of TECHNOLOGY and Alan King’s charge should land the 2.06 before going onto better things, while the best bet at Fairyhouse could be GOLDEN JOY in the Grade Three four-year-old hurdle at 2.35.
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