Newbury Race Preview, 08/02/20

Newbury
Saturday February 8th

Some rain forecast overnight

Newbury 1.50
Betfair Bet In-Play Handicap Hurdle Class 2 0-145
3m52y – Going: Good to Soft (Good in places) – 9 runners

Dolphin Square*
Good 4th to Champers On Ice – reopposing rivals Vive Le Roi 3rd and Anytime Will Do 5th – in handicap hurdle over this c/d in November, hard ridden wide and stayed on going to 2 out, jumped last in 7 lengths 6th, stayed on run-in,  took 4th from the wayward Anytime Will Do on the post; won last time at Ludlow in January, disputed lead 9th, led turning out of back straight and booted clear approaching 3 out, ridden along, stayed on, mistake 2 out when 6 lengths up, jumped right last, pushed out from Carrolls Milan. Higher mark but should still be competitive
Vive Le Roi*
Good 3rd in 3m handicap hurdle over this c/d in November (won that race in 2018), typically up with the pace, hard ridden with every chance 2 out, couldn’t go with Champers On Ice from last, ridden and stayed on last 175 yards, one pace close home and lost 2nd final strides; was in the Lanzarote at Kempton last time and ran well despite track not suiting him, soon niggled, more firmly ridden 7th and struggling, hard ridden away from 3 out, held place but was bumped on home turn, faded 2 out, driven and kept on, closed on leaders approaching last, was held in 4th when swerved fallers and left 2nd, kept on, no impression on Burrows Edge. Was booked for 4th before the two fallers at the last but ran above expectations and a good show expected at a track we know suits him well
Ainchea
Promising novice in 2017/18, missed 2018/19, and shown little in two runs at 2m since coming back, not getting a look-in behind Mill Green at Sandown in January and showing little again at Cheltenham at the end of the month behind Back On The Lash, looked well in the paddock, midfield, briefly niggled 5th, moved well enough but a bit to do when stumbled on landing 2 out, lost ground, no more and well-held 7th. If running him over 3m seems like a curve ball, that he was off the bridle around halfway in the Cheltenham race suggests that lack of pace to lie up was an issue, and what about pedigree – he’s a full brother to One Track Mind who won the Grade 1 hurdle over 3m at Punchestown in April 2016. If they put him in as favourite again forget it, but if the odds are good he gets another chance
Anytime Will Do
On paper a good run when 5th to Champers On Ice in the handicap hurdle over the c/d in November but, after an exaggerated waiting ride, his finishing effort was lacking, had around 13 or 14 to pass coming off home turn, niggled along, started a move after 3 out and closing in midfield going better than most, shaken up after 2 out, stayed on, some 4 lengths behind leaders when blundered last, hard driven, stayed on till went badly left 125 yards out (not far away from going for the water jump), run flattened out, lost 4th post; then checked out readily in Pertemps Qualifier won by Phoenix Way at Huntingdon in January, short of room home turn, pushed along from 2 out, closing under a ride approaching last, hard driven and didn’t stay on run-in, faded and lost 4th last stride. The ability to win one of these is undoubtedly in there
Acey Milan
Best to date when 2nd to Stoney Mountain in Grade 3 handicap at Haydock in November, stoked along to make a start, disputed lead 3 out,  mistake last, hard driven, all out, headed 75 yards out and left behind by Stoney Mountain, no extra, having stretched everything there was to stretch. Possibly feeling the effects when well-beaten 6th to Eva’s Oskar at Chepstow over Christmas, ridden up with the pace, hard ridden and hung left approaching 2 out, was 2 lengths behind jumping, hard driven and not stay on approaching last, lost ground, weakened markedly approaching last, no more. Had little left there after made a lot of use of in tough conditions. Worth another chance having had a six-week break
One For The Team
Out of the mare One Gulp, who made a winning hurdling debut at Newbury in the mid-noughties. Yet to win over hurdles but has gone close to doing so, particularly when splitting Champers On Ice and Vive Le Roi here in November, up with the pace final circuit, some 3 or 4 lengths to find when switched inner to middle approaching 2 out, took 3rd after it and hard driven approaching last, stayed on under pressure 200 yards out, closed on 1st 2 inside last 100 yards and took 2nd close home, and 3rd in Pertemps Qualifier at Warwick last month, disputed lead 8th, every chance upsides leaders approaching 3 out, ridden into it, hard ridden approaching home turn, 1st 2 clear turning in, put under pressure approaching 2 out, hard driven, stayed on, outpaced last, kept on, no impressionon Silver Sheen and Doc Penfro last 125 yards. Another good run likely
Dell’ Arca
Looks for all intents and purposes ‘gone’ judged on last time out-run at Haydock, wearing now-usual blinkers; hit 7th and hard ridden away from it, lost place and struggling in last when mistake 9th, tailing off turning out of back straight, pulled up before 3 out behind Flashjack. Best watched now
Versatility
Won at Warwick in May; best to date over hurdles at Kempton on November 11th although tapped for toe through the last mile, kept on home turn, put under pressure turning in, struggling to get to 1st 2 when blundered 2 out, kept on approaching last, clear of 4th, ridden run-in, no impression behind Boss Man Fred, then again struggling for pace switched to handicap company at Ascot in December, oing worst of leading group home turn, lost ground under a push, some 5 lengths down 2 out, hard ridden between last 2, well held in 8 lengths 4th last, hard ridden, no more behind Mr Muldoon. Though running like a stayer he’s not bred to stay, and his half-brother Igor is yet to make the frame in two runs over it, so I’m not sure what we’ll get here
Thunderstruck
Best of three runs over hurdles when 2nd to subsequent Grade 2 winner Enrilo at Wincanton in October, made ground before 7th and upsides leader again, mistake 8th, moved comfortably turning out of back straight, disputed lead approaching home turn, pusehd along straightening and took definite lead, stayed on, soon challenged by Enrilo, headed 2 out, put under pressure, 1st 2 pulled clear going to last, ridden, one pace run-in, kept on. Has failed to confirm that promise but might well have run better than it looked at the time when a well-held 2nd to King Roland, runner-up in Grade 2 at Cheltenham end of last month, at foggy Exeter on New Year’s Day, mistakes, tracked leaders, pushed along approaching 3 out, had been left well behind when they came into view after last, no more. His dam won at 3m and improvement possible

Shortlist: Dolphin Square, Vive Le Roi

Newbury 3.35
Betfair Handicap Hurdle Class 1 Grade 3
2m69y – Going: Good to Soft (Good in places) – 24 runners

Gumball
Cracking season already, just holding on to win at Ascot, all but followed up in the Greatwood at Cheltenham – stayed on approaching last, steadied into it, hard driven, every chance final furlong, strong effort last 75 yards, took 2nd, just held post, a bit unfortunate to have Harambe come from behind and steal it – then appeared to better it slightly in International at Cheltenham in December, going comfortably 2 out, niggled along home turn, shuffled back, hard ridden and outpaced as race took shape approaching last, some 4 lengths down in 6th jumping, put under pressure, stayed on early on run-in till no extra last 100 yards and 5 lengths 6th to Call Me Lord. Could do something despite the high mark and big weight
Pic D’Orhy
Last season his only British form was his weak-finishing 10th in the Triumph Hurdle, and he checked out just as tamely behind Thomas Darby at Ascot on January 18th, raced keenly over 5th and 6th, headway 7th and prominent, ridden after 3 out, faded before mistake 2 out, no more between last 2 under a ride. Didn’t find anything and not for me here, or indeed anywhere until he shows more resolve
Stolen Silver
Second win over hurdles when getting up late to rather steal the Grade 2 Supreme Trial at Haydock last month from Edwardstone (and reopposing Thebannerkingrebel), raced 3rd, mistakes 1st and 2nd, not fluent 3rd, nudged along 5th, pushed along and carried head awkwardly home turn, disputed 2nd going to 3 out, hard ridden and outpaced going to 2 out, looked held jumping, jumped last 5 lengths behind, put under strong pressure, stayed on well long run-in, closed on those ahead, stayed on strongly last 100 yards to lead post. Doesn’t jump well enough and this won’t be happening again, flattered to get that win and not likely to be getting this one
Harambe
First run since taken out of the Grade 3 handicap at Ascot on the morning of the race. Best run last season a good 2nd to Getaway Trump at Sandown on the last day, effort delayed before ridden and chased winner from last. Stepped up on second run this season when winning Greatwood at Cheltenham, held up rear, quite a bit to do at the top of the hill, travelled comfortably and started a move going down the hill to 2 out, got a split towards outer and prominent to midfield jumping, pushed along home turn with 6 lengths to find, strong effort and closed on them approaching last, put under pressure, chased leader final 175 yards, stayed on strongly and headed Gumball three strides from the post. Could use a longer trip on that evidence – that said the long home straight at Newbury can suit the run-style, if he’s not too far back turning in
Not So Sleepy
For many, this is the horse around whom the whole thing revolves. His first Ascot win looked a case of simply being gifted a clear early lead. His follow-up in the Grade 3 handicap in December was scarcely believable, clear 1st, pulled hard, in close to 2nd, wandered right and had a think about running out before 4th, 2 lengths up before in close to 5th, was joined 3 out, moved comfortably, drew 3 lengths clear home turn, shaken up after 2 out, ran on to draw well clear before last, some 8 lengths up jumping, pushed out till eased last 125 yards, finished full of running. readily beat Monsieur Lecoq. Proven going left handed over hurdles, this is his first run going this way round over jumps, but Newbury is one of the easiest places to go left-handed, so it’s not expected to prove a hindrance
Mill Green
A good 4th to Third Wind in the EBF Final at Sandown last March, it was his first run over the minimum trip over hurdles when, on reappearance, he won a Class 2 handicap hurdle at Sandown on soft going on January 4th, midfield and allowed leaders plenty of rope, not fluent 1st and briefly nudged along, hit 5th, in close to 3 out and pushed along, niggled along off home turn and headway to close on leaders approaching 2 out, jumped it in narrow 2nd, hard ridden, put under pressure approaching last, jumped it a neck down, hard driven, stayed on well to lead inside final 100 yards, beat Eldorado Allen – that runner-up failed to back up the form at Sandown last week. As for Mill Green, you fancy he’ll need a lot of overnight rain to fall to be effective at 2m again in this stronger handicap
Nelson River
Races lazily; didn’t run up to his mark on reappearance in 4-y-o conditions hurdle at Cheltenham behind Quel Destin, or – although he was thrown in at the deep end – in Fighting Fifth at Newcastle last hurdles start, niggled along approaching 3rd, pushed along away from it, mistakes 4th and 5th, going worst of the field home turn, ridden and lost place approaching 3 out, hung left and weakened, well held 2 out behind Cornerstone Lad. Well held 4th in Class 5 handicap on the AW at Wolverhampton last time. Not for me
Thebannerkingrebel*
Three wins over hurdles; first defeat when completing when only 3rd to Stolen Silver in Supreme Trial at Haydock last time, led 2nd, mistake 3rd, moved comfortably home turn, ridden into 3 out, moved best going to 2 out, niggled along after it, steadied into and in close to last, headed, hard driven, stayed on, had ground taken against far side rail 125 yards out, faded, lost 2nd close home. That race went wrong in two places: 1/ when he wasn’t sent for home in earnest from the second last, and 2/ more obviously, when short of room against the rail on the run-in. The overall impression is that he’s better than that – he might take this chance to prove it
Never Adapt
Very hard puller; first win in Britain over hurdles when taking a 0-140 handicap at Kempton on January 11th, held up rear, pulled hard, gradual headway as race progressed, produced to challenge 2 out, led last, ridden clear, unchallenged from Golden Taipan. One has to worry that her tendency to pull harder than the hardest hard-pullers will get the better of her in better races than that and I can’t see a win for her happening here
Remiluc
On first run back from a long absence, did nothing much behind Mill Green in Class 2 handicap hurdle at Sandown in January, held up, mistake 1st, niggled along and struggling in rear 4th, ridden into and mistake 3 out when tailing off, no more, trailed in; confident elimination
Oakley
Best run last season when taking Class 3 handicap hurdle at Kempton in January 2019,  put under pressure approaching last, made a length and led over it, driven out, stayed on well last 150 yards to beat Magic Dancer. Placed all three starts this season, on second run good 3rd to Not So Sleepy at Ascot (the November race the latter won), and last time a neck 2nd to Repetitio at Cheltenham in December,  lost ground 6th and niggled along at the top of the hill, closer order, 2 lengths off leader 2 out,  stayed on and every chance approaching last, upsides when steadied into it, hard driven, led early on run-in, hard driven, stayed on, was closed on last 150 yards, headed 100 yards out, stuck to task. Tends to race off the bit a lot, but holding form well
Zanza 
After winning at Newbury in November he was an okay 6th to Harambe in Greatwood at Cheltenham in November, pushed along at the top of the hill after 5th, lost ground approaching 2 out, ridden after it, kept on approaching home turn and passed a couple, some 5 or 6 lengths down disputing 5th when wandered left approaching last, steadied into it and mistake, rider seemed in a bit of difficulty immediately after but started riding again 175 yards out, driven and kept on, wandered left and no further ground last 100 yards. Didn’t get far at Ascot in the Grade 3 handicap next time, not fluent 2nd and briefly niggled, was taking a bit of a hold when fell 4th. With a hood refitted and a two-from-two record at Newbury, this is one to have in the mix
Ecco
On my figures his best run over hurdles to date was in the 2019 Triumph Hurdle when, despite a string of mistakes, he finished 12 lengths 6th to Pentland Hills. Having won twice on his first two runs this season, his best run of the current campaign was last time when 2nd to Fred at Kempton on Boxing Day, pace quickened home turn, led going best approaching 2 out and shaken up, hung right when ridden, hard driven approaching last, stayed on, soon joined by Fred approaching last, mistake and momentarily lost hind legs on landing, not recover, kept on, no impression last 150 yards. Still a bit unsure what to make of this one; his form this season does not entitle him to a chance, but his Triumph-run does
Lightly Squeeze*
Completed a hattrick when winning at Plumpton on January 5th, tracked leaders, moved comfortably 6th, further good ground and led 3 out, went 2 lengths clear and going best turning out of back straight, was 7 lengths up home turn and still not shaken up, finally pushed along approaching 2 out, stayed on, some 15 to 20 lengths up last, eased last 150 yards, readily by 14 lengths from Karakoram. Won like he was thrown in with the proverbial ton in hand – needs much more, but the style marks of the Plumpton win suggest that the improvement might be in there
Ciel De Neige*
Placed in Fred Winter last season on first run for Willie Mullins, and this season 4th to Janidil in competitive handicap at Fairyhouse on December 1st. Last time out should have won a maiden at Limerick over Christmas, only for things to not go his way, moved best off home turn, looked to have got a split on inner but short of room when nearly forced the wrong side of a doll approaching 2 out and ended up 3 lengths back then nearly went the wrong side of the inside wing of the hurdle, mistake, hard ridden, ran on approaching last, ridden and strong run last 100 yards, made up much ground on Argumental, just failed. With a clear run he’d have won that by around 4 lengths – compensation awaits at some point and it could well happen in this
Whoshotthesheriff
Just failed for a bit of stamina when beaten into 2nd by Bold Plan in 2m3f handicap hurdle at Haydock in November. Took his chance in the Grade 3 handicap hurdle at Ascot in December and perhaps made a forward move too early in the race, midfield 4th, further headway and prominent 5th, just about with leaders 3 out, moved comfortably though lugging left till niggled along home turn, soon more firmly ridden, looked held 2 out, put under pressure, still in contention for a place last, no extra final 150 yards, stuck to task, 5th to Not So Sleepy in the end. With his effort delayed a bit he could go deeper into this race than he did at Ascot
Quoi De Neuf
As he was brought down quite early on in the Grade 3 at Ascot in December when last seen out, his most relevant run remains his 4th to Harambe in Greatwood at Cheltenham in November,  made ground going down the hill to 2 out and with leaders after, shaken up and a neck down home turn, hard ridden, no extra under pressure early on run-in, wandered, faded inside final 75 yards. Has found little when ridden before (notably at Ffos Las in April, going best and 2 lengths down at the second last, beaten 7 lengths by Good Boy Bobby at the line), so no stand-out
Highly Prized
Won three of his last four and lines up on a hattrick after winning at Huntingdon in November when last seen, led 5th and soon a length and a half up, niggled along approaching 3 out where jumped left, moved best home turn, niggled along in 3-length lead, pushed along approaching 2 out, not fluent, hard driven approaching last, steadied into it, pushed out, stayed on well and pulled further clear, decisive from Sofia’s Rock; the 4th Sebastopol won at Musselburgh last Saturday. Has a daisy-cutting action and wouldn’t want a lot of rain
Sir Valentine
Best work at the end when 3rd to Not So Sleepy in the Grade 3 handicap at Ascot just before Christmas, niggled along and appeared to be struggling in Swinley Bottom, more firmly pushed along after 5th, niggled along and plenty to do on inner home turn, hard ridden, put under pressure between last 2 and stayed on, in contention for 3rd over last, driven out, kept on well, no impression on the 2nd let alone the winner. Flattered by his finishing position there, he’s not for me
Flegmatik
Won one of his four starts since joining present connections; reappearance and only run so far this season, 2nd to Fransham at Wetherby on November 1st, held up rear, long stride, raced wide and headway 5th, ridden into and mistake 6th, good ground from home turn going quite comfortably, closed up on the bit after 3 out, within 3 lengths when not fluent 2 out, ridden and hung left, no extra going to last, looked held in 4th jumping, put under pressure, stayed on well run-in, took 2nd last 100 yards, no chance with winner. Best work at the end, took a while to pick up from the second last. A long-striding individual for a two-mile hurdler, it’s open to question whether he has the pace for a race like this
Magic Dancer
Long time without a win but has several good runs in these sorts of handicaps to his name, including 2nd to Al Dancer last year when the race was run a week late at Ascot. Last time good 2nd to Tea Clipper at Huntingdon on December 8th, held up rear and one of the first off the bit, headway and prominent 3 out, hard ridden, a length to find when ground taken 2 out, stayed on under a firm hand ride, steadied into and mistake last but led there, hard driven, stayed on, headed 100 yards out. He’s now blinkered for the first time over jumps, and he didn’t run close in two starts blinkered on the Flat – little expected
Neff 
Not yet out of the first two over hurdles – two wins, two runner-ups – and won in atrocious conditions at Fontwell on Boxing Day, went 4 to 5 lengths clear along with one other before mistake 6th, nudged along approaching 3 out, not going as well as rival immediately after but held place turning out of back straight, niggled along and moved better home turn, pushed along straightening, hung left, some 3 lengths up when left further clear 2 out, pushed along, stayed on, wandered approaching last, kept up to his work, workmanlike and unchallenged from Cogital. Style marks were around 5.75 out of 10, I don’t know where the handicapper got his mark of 130 from and he has a ton to find
Mack The Man
On the up as a hurdler and comes here on a hattrick after winning Listed handicap hurdle at Sandown on December 7th, headway wide and making places in midfield approaching 3rd, further ground and prominent going comfortably 5th, mistake 3 out but still moved well, smooth headway approaching 2 out on the bit, disputing lead when mistake, still not shaken up, led on bit approaching last and better jump, ridden, asserted and drew clear under a ride, didn’t go any further away in last 50 yards but decisively beat Protektorat. Needs to improve again (had Lightly Squeeze behind for his first win but that one might have improved past him since)
Tamaroc Du Mathan
Best of two runs since joining present stable when running 2nd to Master Debonair in Introductory hurdle at Ascot in November, keen, rather pulled his way forward to midfield by 4th, niggled along 5th, ridden into 3 out, made a little ground, pulled wide approaching home turn, pushed along and faded turning in, stayed on under a hand ride approaching 2 out and closed on those ahead, went 2nd jumping, drew clear of 3rd between last 2, no impression. Again keen in Grade 3 at Ascot next time and was done with before the race took shape, prominent 3rd, lost place and midfield before mistake 5th, ridden along after 3 out, weakened home turn, dropped away, tailed off. Little expected, his British form to date not near his handicap mark

Shortlist: Thebannerkingrebel, Lightly Squeeze, Ciel De Neige

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