KALASHNIKOV (1.50) is a worthy favourite in a hot 2m 4f handicap chase on day one at Newbury.
Amy Murphy's gelding is returning to the scene of his 2018 Betfair Hurdle victory and has since developed into a smart chaser. Kalashnikov was a little disappointing on his return at Aintree, looking the probable winner two out before being out-gunned by Forest Biham. He should strip sharper today. Glen Forsa made all to run Kalashnikov ragged over two miles in the Kingmaker Novices' Chase at Sandown in February but his form later dipped quite alarmingly.
With several bookmakers offering five places each-way, the three-mile handicap hurdle has an attractive profile. ONE FOR THE TEAM (3.35) is still learning his trade on the back of only four career starts and Nick Williams gives him his handicap debut off a tempting mark. One For The Team ran into subsequent winner Big Shark at Worcester and should handle the deep ground, having won his bumper on soft.
L'INGANNO FELICE (2.00) has been given a chance by the handicapper at Southwell and would walk-over if Scobie Jardine has him back in top form for his Fibresand reappearance. The strapping gelding powered home over course and distance by seven lengths off the same official rating in January before going on to land a Listed hurdle at Market Rasen. He hasn't done much in the interim but the betting should be an accurate indicator to his chances. Favourite Sociologist finished second to Born To Please in the Nottingham mud at the end of October when sent off a warm order.
At Kempton, QATAR QUEEN (5.30) is preferred to market rivals Qaabil and Sheriffmuir in the opener. Qatar Queen was no match for Nazeef at Chelmsford City but the winner went on to land a Newmarket handicap by six lengths off a mark of 93. Qaabil, running off an official 72 rating, was well held by The Gill Brothers (good third last night) on debut for William Haggas, while Sheriffmuir pulled hard and looked an awkward ride at Lingfield.