It has been a good week on the punting front so far this week and let’s hope we can continue boosting funds for the Cheltenham Festival.
There is a competitive eight-race card at Newbury on Saturday where I have two selections plus the Grade Two William Hill Premier Novices’ Hurdle takes centre stage at Kelso and I also have a fancy in that contest.
I am sticking with this mare despite the fact that she failed to land a gamble at Kempton over Christmas.
She is 10lb better off with her conqueror on that occasion but Miranda does look to be a mare suited by a sharp track, so the wide, galloping Newbury track might suit Elusive Belle better than when the pair fought out the finish at Kempton.
Elusive Belle’s previous run behind Champion Hurdle favourite Epatante over this course and distance certainly gives her a chance. Sam Waley-Cohen takes a handy 3lb off and the going will be no issue.
2.45 Kelso: Clondaw Caitlin at a general 2-1
I am going against two of my, admittedly, flimsy rules of betting. Firstly, I don’t really get involved in non-handicaps, but this is a strange time of year over the jumps just before Cheltenham.
I am more concerned about betting against Paul Nicholls in Scotland. It doesn’t often pay to oppose Nicholls, but I have been seriously impressed with Ruth Jefferson’s mare and feel her allowance could be a strong deciding factor in this Grade Two contest.
This will be by far her sternest test, but she clocked a good time at Newcastle and is worth this step up in grade. Calva D’auge has already been beaten at Listed level and is likely to be sent off favourite.
This is my best bet of the day and I will be disappointed if his improvement doesn’t continue and enable him to beat this useful opposition.
Dan Skelton is in good form and Bennys King showed his best form last time at Ascot, but on his last two starts, he has looked to me as though his optimum distance may well be 2m4f where he can be ridden positively from the front.
Many will know that I regard Newbury chase wins as key indicators of ability over fences and his latest win came at this track which is a huge plus.
This is a tough test for a big prize but I am hoping he is up to it.
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