The big race at Newbury looks well up to standard and I’m backing Waterlord to get the better of the Henderson five.
I know Donald McCain has held this horse in extremely high regard and he’s done really well this winter off a lengthy absence. Every time I see him run, however, I keep thinking he’ll be better for more of a test of speed and less of a slog – there can’t have been much worse ground all season than he encountered at Haydock last time.
He’s got quite a bit of class and looks pretty well treated. Of Nicky’s group, the one that interests me most is Verdana Blue who will book a ticket to the Champion Hurdle if she runs well.
She was quite unlucky not to win what was arguably the most competitive Handicap Hurdle of the season so far at Ascot and Davy Russell is a good booking for this strong travelling mare.
It’s disappointing that the two feature Chases have only managed to muster three runners a piece, but they’re not short on intrigue.
It’s difficult to recommend a bet in the Game Spirit because I don’t see any obvious reason why Altior shouldn’t win, even allowing for his long-ish absence.
In the Denman Chase, however, there might be a little bit of mileage in backing Saphir Du Rheu who really wasn’t too far behind Native River at all in last year’s Gold Cup and has probably been quite finely tuned for this come back.
I thought he was just beginning to get the hang of things before the back end of last season, where his jumping was getting much better. It’s worth remembering that he was forfeiting quite a bit of ground at Cheltenham by going wide throughout. I’m not sure Cloudy Dream stays this far.
In the Kingmaker Novices’ Chase at Warwick, all eyes will be on Saint Calvados who looked very impressive last time at Newbury. That said, in any starts in Britain so far he hasn’t really faced the tests of speed that he’ll face here and I just wonder whether he’s worth taking on with North Hill Harvey who is better going this way round and is a pretty assured jumper.
Also at Warwick, in the 3.15, this is Kylemore Lough’s easiest task of the season so far; he shaped encouragingly enough in the Clarence House at Ascot to make me think that this drop in Grade should see him to best effect.
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