Talking Horses: Monbeg Genius can star as Newbury beats freeze

<span>Photograph: David Davies/PA</span>
Photograph: David Davies/PA

Saturday’s Coral Gold Cup card at Newbury will go ahead as planned following a precautionary inspection.

The entire track was covered again after racing on Friday and was reported to be frost free underneath at inspection time. Officials will, however, continue to monitor conditions with a further drop in temperatures expected before day break.

It was positive news, too, from Fairyhouse, where day one of the track’s Winter Festival also passed an inspection. A second inspection was held at Doncaster at 9am, in order to check temperatures were rising sufficiently enough to lift the fleece covering the course and with a forecast of 2C officials deemed conditions fit for racing. Bangor also passed an inspection for its all-hurdle card. Leicester were due to inspect at 11.30am for Sunday’s fixture but will now have a look at 8am on raceday. PA Media

Saturday preview

Racing had faced the possibility of a blank weekend due to freezing temperatures and snowfall across the country, with Newcastle’s valuable Fighting Fifth Hurdle meeting on Saturday abandoned.

Eloise Quayle, the clerk of the course at Newcastle, said on Friday that everyone at the track was “absolutely gutted” to have lost a card that was due to feature the seasonal debut of Constitution Hill, the reigning champion over hurdles, in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle and a swift reappearance by Shishkin, his stable companion at the Nicky Henderson yard, after his refusal to race at Ascot last weekend.

Related: Talking Horses: will Shishkin wriggle out of Timeform squiggle after refusing to run?

The British Horseracing Authority moved swiftly to reschedule the Fighting Fifth Hurdle following the abandonment and the race will be added to the Tingle Creek Chase card at Sandown next Saturday.

Doncaster 11.49 Game Socks 12.21 Personal Ambition 12.56 Dontyawantme 1.31 Ballybreeze 2.06 General Officer 2.41 Rath Gaul Hill 3.16 Gore Point

Newbury 11.55 Manimole 12.30 Way Out 1.05 Jingko Blue 1.40 Uncle Bert 2.15 Brentford Hope (nb) 2.50 Monbeg Genius (nap) 3.25 Master Chewy

Bangor 12.36 Ballygeary 1.11 Risk D’Argent 1.44 Kilbarry Hill 2.21 Act Of Authority 2.56 Bushtucker Park 3.31 Gallonray

ITV Racing is due to cover the final four races on the card at Newbury, with the Coral Gold Cup – perhaps still better known to some as the race that used to be the Hennessy Gold Cup – due off at 2.50pm.

A field of 20 is expected to go to post if the meeting survives, including Ga Law, last season’s Paddy Power Gold Cup winner, who held a first-preference entry in the Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle.

The line-up is a typically competitive mix of seasoned handicappers and lightly-raced up-and-comers, with three seven-year-old second-season chasers – Mahler Mission, Complete Unknown and Monbeg Genius - vying for favouritism overnight at around 7-1.

12.10 The Happy Chapati 12.40 The Secret Pearl 1.10 Choirmaster 1.45 Supremely West 2.20 Russian Virtue 2.55 Top Ville Ben 3.25 Grozni

12.35 Poppy Rose 1.05 Valleyview Tommy 1.35 Flaubert 2.10 Court Dreaming 2.45 Dance Thief 3.20 Malicash

12.45 Ellerton 1.15 Militiades 1.50 Jemura 2.25 Risk D’Argent 3.00 Ballycamus 3.30 Bushtucker Park

Nap: Farren Glory, 1.25 Fairyhouse. 
NB: Found A Fifty, 2.00 Fairyhouse. 

Monbeg Genius (2.50) could prove to be the pick of the trio as he has shown as much potential as either of his market rivals and gets weight from both.

The fact that he was pulled up on his return to action at Ascot last month will be off-putting for some, but he was left with little chance after an uncharacteristic jumping error while still going well and his form behind Corach Rambler, the subsequent Grand National winner, and Fastorslow, a dual Grade One winner since, at Cheltenham last season is hard to ignore.

Newbury 1.40 Uncle Bert fell at the fourth when favourite for a race at Cheltenham’s November meeting but would be a big player if close to the level of several runs this year.

Newbury 2.15 Harry Derham’s second season with a licence is progressing as smoothly as the first and Brentford Hope, who had any amount in hand when successful on his seasonal debut over track and trip last month, can add another valuable success.

Newbury 3.25 Master Chewy went like the best horse at the weights for much of the way at Aintree last month and has more scope for progress over fences than most of his rivals.