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Ruling Dynasty got us a winner on Friday under William Buick who has been on fire along with Charlie Appleby during the winter at Meydan. Auto Bahn bumped into a smart one, as the front two pulled miles clear. He did go off at 11/10 with a R4 in there, that price was plenty short enough, but 11/4 last night made it worth a bet.
Newbury 1:30 – On The Blind Side 28/1 (0.5pt EW, Bet365)
Yes, I am going for the outsider of the field for this competitive-looking 0-140 handicap on heavy ground. Am I losing my mind by siding with On The Blind Side? Possibly.
It isn't too much of a concern that Nico has gone for the lightly raced unexposed hurdler from the Henderson stable and we have James Bowen on board as more often than not you'd think the stable jockey would go with the progressive horse than the horse falling down the handicap, but like I said, I don't read into that too much. On The Blind Side has fallen to a mark of 137 which is the joint lowest career rating he has ever had, and the last time he fell to this rating he went and won at odds of 50/1 over today's C&D on testing ground, so does lightning strike twice? I'm more than happy to have a few quid on him at odds in the 20s to find out.
He has only raced twice over hurdles at Newbury which has seen him win (last year) and he was 2nd on his only other start which was back in 2021 in the Long Distance Hurdle Grade 2 which had the likes of Paisley Park, Thomas Darby and ex-stayers hurdle winner, Lisnagar Oscar, which clearly shows he has a liking to this track and it's a bit odd that he's not been raced here more often.
He has been a mixture of good and bad this year, with his first start looking like a nice pipe opener for the season before running a shocker at Plumpton.
Newbury 3:15 – Brentford Hope 12/1 (1pt EW, WilliamHill 7pl) & Norman Fletcher 25/1 (0.5pt EW, WilliamHill 7pl)
With the ground already being described as heavy, and soft in places, it's going to take some getting home in the Betfair Hurdle so going for horses who are proven on the ground is almost a must. Brentford Hope is my main play in the race, but I'm also having a saver on Norman Fletcher.
Brentford Hope burst onto the scene a fair few years ago when he was just a 2yo, trained by Richard Hughes at the time. He soon got a reputation for a horse who had a high cruising speed, but especially on soft ground. He hosed up on soft ground on his debut and I'd recommend rewinding the clock back to October 2020 when he sluiced up at Haydock on heavy ground, like a hot knife through butter under a smooth Jamie Spencer who didn't move a muscle. He loves this type of ground, but since moving to hurdles he hasn't experienced anywhere near this soft ground, but has still been running with great ability, hence why he is rated 134. I just think now he's got his ideal ground he might have 7-10lbs in hand, especially given his flat ability and speed, and this will have been the season-long plan for him with Harry Derham sending to this track on two occasions this season.
My bit of a wildcard for the race is Norman Fletcher and on all known form he has a fair bit to prove to get involved, but we know he handles the heavy ground. Nigel Twiston Davies has won this race three times in the last 10 renewals so it's a race he loves to target, and in the years he didn't win he had a few in the places, so even if this lad runs into the places, I'll be happy as Larry as he is big odds.
Naas 3:40 – Maskada 13/8 (2pt, Bet365)
It's clear and obvious we haven't seen the best of last year's Cheltenham Festival Grand Annual winner, but with heavy ground in description and a return to a left-handed track, I think Maskada is the one to beat.
Riviere D'etel is a nice mare, but she has really struggled on left-handed tracks in recent years, as she likes to jump quite violently out to the right, which is amplified around a left-handed track. Allegorie De Vassy was smoked by the Elliott horse when they met over 2m 5f last time out, so even though this drop in trip might suit, she still has to prove she is capable.
Given that Maskada is the joint highest-rated mare in the race, but she is receiving weight from her ‘main' rivals, 8lbs from ADV and 6lbs from Riviere D'etel, she should be winning a race of this nature on ground which is perfect and the trip which is also what she wants. If she produces a run that she did at Cheltenham last year when she battered Dinoblue by 6L, this field has no chance. I believe she will be primed for this run, as she is entered in the Champion Chase, so if she loses this, there's no point for going to that race. But if she does win this in decent style, I think she can definitely finish 2nd or 3rd in the Champion Chase.
Newbury - 1:30 pm
28/1 @ Bet365
Newbury - 3:15 pm
12/1 @ William Hill
Newbury - 3:15 pm
25/1 @ William Hill
Naas - 3:40 pm