Flat racing on turf will return shortly from its four-month winter break, but there is still plenty of life left in the jumps season and also in the National Hunt trainers’ championship, where the favourite Nicky Henderson (top price 4-7) is trying to unseat Paul Nicholls (6-4) for only the second time in a dozen years.
Nicholls should make a small dent in his deficit of around £130,000 when Coastal Tiep (2.00), his only declared runner of the day, runs in the opener at Newbury. The five-year-old went close on his handicap debut last time out and has form already in the book which gives him the beating of today’s three rivals as he returns to novice company.
Henderson’s main hope of the day – Reigning Supreme – goes in the same race, and he looks set to draw a blank as his only other runner – Maestro Royal in the two-mile handicap hurdle – will struggle to cope with I’m A Game Changer (4.10). Philip Hobbs’s runner made short work of his field on his handicap debut last time out, winning by 11 lengths, and with further progress likely he should be able to defy a 12lb rise in the ratings.
Mitcd (3.50) may be the best bet on the Musselburgh card at around 4-1, while on the all-weather at Lingfield, Gawdawpalin (4.00) is interesting at around 5-1 to beat the favourite Barye in the 12-furlong handicap.
Sylvester Kirk’s runner has not seen a track since finishing a close second at Kempton in November, but the winner there ran well in Listed company next time while the third horse home won its next start. The time of the race was solid too and Gawdawpalin should go very close today.
Frank The Barber (3.30) is another interesting runner on the same card, while Strada Di Casorli could offer some value on the evening card at Newcastle.
Newbury 2.00 Coastal Tiep 2.30 Rockchasebullett 3.05 Malapie 3.40 Dueling Banjos 4.10 I’m A Game Changer (nb) 4.45 Ballytober
Musselburgh 2.10 John Williams 2.45 Paper Rosees 3.20 The Dutchman 3.50 Mitcd 4.25 Idder 4.55 Grand Enterprise 5.25 Kelpies Myth
Newcastle 5.45 Stoneham 6.15 Signe 6.45 Strada Di Casorli 7.15 Marqoom 7.45 Scala Regia 8.15 Royal Request
Lingfield Park 2.20 Muzaahim 2.55 El Principe 3.30 Frank The Barber 4.00 Gawdawpalin (nap) 4.35 Ulysses 5.05 Delfie Lane