Betfair’s Super Saturday at Newbury and the Hennessy Gold Cup day at Leopardstown see cards full of Cheltenham Festival hopefuls
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The Betfair Hurdle at Newbury must be one of the most competitive renewals in years.The race is teeming with possible winners and plenty of reputations that could be dented before the afternoon is out. Henderson, Nicholls and Pipe all have strong hands in the race. Can the classy My Tent Or Yours fulfil his promise? Can Cause of Causes continue his progressive run? Will Swing Bowler remain unbeaten? These are all questions on the lips of punters. The seasonal debut of Ronaldo Des Mottes caught Crockford’s eye – the horse travelled well through his race and was certainly not given a hard one. Perhaps when Johnson suggested mid week that Swing Bowler (the unbeaten mare) was not Pipe’s best chance of a winner he had this horse in mind. Expect to see many of the runners have their next outing at Cheltenham in March.
Today may well work out to be a Super Saturday for Paul Nicholls, who is well represented across the card at Newbury and runs the exciting novice chaser Fago at Warwick. The Denman Chase looks to be weak with Nicholl’s Silviniaco Conti being the stand out horse in the field unless Menorah can progress again from his last win. Crockford recommends that if you fancy Nicholl’s horse for the Gold Cup back him now at 7/1 before he shortens.
The Hennessy Gold Cup’s condensed field at Leopardstown amounts to round three of the great bout between Peter Casey’s Flemenstar and Willie Mullin’s Sir Des Champs. The first two rounds have just gone to Casey’s Star but it is sure to be close again this afternoon. Whispers say that there is a glint in Casey’s eye and that his Flemenstar will show the staying quality that will make him a true Cheltenham Gold Cup contender.
If Mullin’s is not successful with Sir Des Champs he looks certain to be with the highly regarded Champagne Fever and Boston Bob who are sure to be Festival bound after their runs today.
Crockford’s Dead Cert – Unioniste (4.10 Newbury)
After finishing third in his race at the Open Meeting connections knew that they had a very good sort on their hands. Unioniste win at the December meeting was nothing short of breathtaking. This Dead Cert deserves his short price and will win again today.
Crockford’s Whisper – Edemyi e/w (3.50 Leopardstown)
Impressive winner on the all weather at Dundalk, the whisper is that he will run well at a big price for connections tomorrow. Crockford’s only slight concern is his recent late withdrawal when entered into a competitive handicap.
Archer’s Selection – Fago (2.40 Warwick)
Nicholl’s regards this novice highly and has Festival hopes for him. The shrewd Archer would have made sure that he was booked for this ride after his impressive win last time out.
Crockford’s gambles around the courses this afternoon:
Newbury – Chatterbox (1.15), Barafundle e/w (1.50), Menorah e/w (2.25), Wishfull Thinking (3.00), Ronaldo Des Mottes e/w (3.35), Unioniste (4.10) and Pure Science (4.40)
Leopardstown – Our Conor (1.15), Champagne Fever (2.15), Boston Bob (2.45), Flemenstar (3.20) and Edeymi e/w (3.50)
Warwick – Jonny Delta e/w (12.55), Ma Filieule (1.30), Hey Big Spender e/w (2.05), Fago (2.40), Godsmejudge (3.50) and Chiberta King (4.25)
Lingfield – Young Jackie (12.50), Huffoof (1.25), Night Trade (2.35) and Tarooq (3.45)
Uttoxeter – Hassadin (3.25) and Greywell Boy (4.35)
(Featured Photograph – Unioniste after his win at Cheltenham by Stuart Rice)
(Photograph – Wishfull Thinking after his win at Cheltenham by Stuart Rice)