Saturday sees some high-class National Hunt action at Newbury and Newcastle with the Berkshire track hosting the Hennessy Gold Cup as well as the Grade 2 bet365 Long Distance Hurdle featuring the reappearance of the unbeaten World Hurdle winner More Of That while the north-east course stages the Grade 1 StanJames.com Fighting Fifth Hurdle at 2.05.
Newbury’s major handicap looks a well above average renewal and it would be no surprise to see the winner go to scale greater heights as the three mile two and a half contest includes several horses who have the potential to make it to the very top of the chasing tree, especially Smad Place, Fingal Bay, Many Clouds and Irish challenger Djakadam. From a value perspective we nominated What A Warrior in the ante-post market as capable of running a big race at 33-1 and Dan Skelton’s seven-year-old can make the frame at huge odds.
The John Quinn-trained Aurore d’Estruval was advised earlier in the week as good value at 6-1 to take Gosforth Park’s Champion Hurdle trial and the mount of James Reveley is a confident choice to see off hot favourite Irving and company in receipt of the 7lb mare’s allowance. Both courses stage good supporting cards and the two horses who make plenty of appeal are Exitas in Newbury’s 1.50 and Indian Castle in Newcastle’s Listed At The Races Rehearsal Chase at 2.40.
The former was on a four-timer when attempting to win Cheltenham’s Greatwood Hurdle at the Open meeting but the slow early pace was all against Phil Middleton’s runner who can get back on the winning trail despite racing off a 6lb higher mark. The latter found things happening too quickly when the pace quickened in the Paddy Power Gold Cup on his first run for new trainer Ian Williams and will be more at home on the soft ground and three mile trip at Newcastle.
Recommendation – 1 point each-way double Exitas and Indian Castle – both 6-1 with William Hill