There is set to be some brilliant action on Coral Gold Cup Day at Newbury on Saturday, live on Racing TV, and Harry Allwood has pinpointed five contenders who are worth a second look.
The below article was first published on Tuesday.
Race: Coral John Francome Novices' Chase - 12.45pm.
Best odds: 5-4.
This eight-year-old scored twice at Grade One level over hurdles and made the perfect start to life over fences when winning with plenty to spare at Exeter this month. He jumped carefully over a couple of obstacles, and also made a mistake at the last, but it was a more than satisfactory round of jumping which he will have no doubt learnt plenty from.
He’s already a best-priced 8-1 for the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, and there is no reason why this 161-rated hurdler cannot reach the highest level over fences this season.
Philip Hobbs' stable star is also two from two at Newbury, and does not seem ground dependent, so could prove extremely hard to beat here.
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Race: Sir Peter O'sullevan Memorial Handicap Chase - 1.20pm.
Best odds: 8-1 (General).
Cap Du Nord looked unlucky not to finish closer when third in the Badger Beer Chase at Wincanton after he was badly hampered by a faller at a crucial stage and has been dropped 2lb since that run.
He now finds himself on a rating of 130, and while he remains 3lb above his last winning mark, he has gone close off higher ratings in the past, so still looks well handicapped.
One slight negative is that he isn’t always the most consistent, but his latest outing certainly signalled he was about to hit form and he won this race with a bit to spare off a 7lb lower rating two years ago.
Any cut in the ground will not hinder his chances and it is likely this has been his early-season target.
Race: Coral Racing Club Handicap Hurdle - 1.55pm.
Best odds: 6-1 (with Coral).
Nicky Henderson has always held Walking On Air in extremely high regard, and it was easy to see why when the five-year-old bolted up on his hurdling debut at Newbury in January. The form of that race has worked out well, too, with the second and third winning their next starts, and a rating of 132 could easily underestimate the selection.
It is no surprise that connections are keen to exploit a lenient mark in handicap company before progressing into Graded races, and while he disappointed at Grade One level at Aintree last season, he did endure an unsatisfactory preparation having been ruled out of the Cheltenham Festival due to a setback the month before.
This will be just his fourth start under rules, and it appears he hasn’t been the easiest to train, but it will be disappointing if he isn’t capable of being competitive at this level on his return to action.
Race: Coral Bet Bundles Intermediate Handicap Hurdle (Gerry Feilden) - 2.30pm.
Best odds: 11-2 (with William Hill).
Having shaped with bundles of promise in novice hurdles last year, this son of Golden Horn took his form to a new level after wind surgery when scoring on his handicap debut at Kempton before finishing third in the Betfair Hurdle over this course and distance.
Nicky Henderson’s charge certainly lost nothing in defeat when chasing home State Man in the County Hurdle on his next outing and it is probably best to forgive his below-par effort in Grade One company at Aintree which came at the end of a long season, and after a hard race at Cheltenham.
Another career best will be needed to win this contest off a rating of 146 on his seasonal debut, but Henderson, who is seeking his ninth win in the Gerry Feilden, has had this race in mind for some time.
With only nine runs under his belt, First Street is surely going to have more to offer this season, and his Kempton success came after a break, so the lack of a recent run here isn’t a huge concern.
Race: Coral Gold Cup Chase - 3.05pm.
Best odds: 10-1 (General).
I advised backing Fiddlerontheroof ante-post at 14-1 for Coral Gold Cup earlier this month and while he has shortened in the market after the confirmations were revealed on Monday, he still looks worth siding with at the 10-1 on offer.
The ground is good, so any further rain, which is forecast, would be a positive as he does seem best suited with some give underfoot.
Joe Tizzard seemed bullish about Fiddlerontheroof’s chances at the Coral Gold Cup Gallops Morning this month and Brendan Powell, who guided the eight-year-old to finish second in last year’s race, is on board again.
He should be capable of going close off a 5lb higher rating this year, and looks a decent each-way bet.
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