1-50 BETFAIR ACCA EDGE HANDICAP HURDLE – 3 M 52 YDS
Argocat makes his debut for Nicky Henderson this afternoon having spent four years in Ireland with Tom Taafe. He absolutely loves soft sticky ground and has won six of his thirty career starts. He has won over two miles but more importantly has the stamina for three as he proved when winning at Limerick a couple of years ago. The change of scenery is likely to have done him the world of good and now that he faces a lower class of opposition, it would be of no surprise if he were to get off to the best possible start.
Zeroeshadesofgray is another that likes to get his toe in and it was hard not to be impressed with the manner of his win at Doncaster back in December. He is a three time winner at that track so he clearly adapts well to a flat surface. That won’t be an issue at Newbury this afternoon and if he turns up here in the same sort of form, he will prove hard to peg back. Gevrey Chambertin is talented on his day but following his laboured effort at Chepstow in December it would be difficult to see him winning here. Keltus probably needs better ground whilst Batavir has not showed anything like the promise that he showed previously. Millanisi Boy looks an improving sort and has made the frame in each of his last three starts. He has place prospects here despite a rise in class.
Argocat has faced far sterner opposition than this in the past and it is interesting that connections have opted to send him to Seven Barrows. He gets weight from the majority of his rivals and that can help him go very close this afternoon.
3-35 BETFAIR HURDLE (GRADE 3 HANDICAP) – 2 MILES
Sternrubin is undefeated in three starts during this campaign and it would not be the biggest of shocks if he were to extend that run here. He showed guts and a resilient attitude when rallying at Ascot in The Ladbroke to force a dead heat with Jolly’s Cracked It. He is a free going sort who tries to make all in his races and with Richard Johnson getting to know him better each time, it is likely that he will try and squeeze a breather or two into him before kicking on again when he feels the time is right.
Blazer was a smart hurdler in his native France and he was then purchased by JP McManus to go chasing. He did not take to that at all and finished last of nine at Leopardstown at Christmas. Willie Mullins sent him back over the smaller obstacles at the same track last weekend and he put up a spirited performance to beat Mighty Concorde by over three lengths. This is much tougher opposition this afternoon but if continuing his progression in this sphere, he could prove a blot on the handicap and a very big threat to the selection. Modus is also owned by JP McManus and is trained by Paul Nicholls. He was turned over in a much less classier event than this last time and given the form of the yard, he looks unbackable at current odds. Starchitect goes well fresh and makes his first appearance for David Pipe this afternoon. Tom Scudamore takes the ride and a decent effort can be expected at double figure prices.
Sternrubin comes from a yard that can do little wrong at present. They clearly would love to win this as Cheltenian who was runner up in this last year runs again as does War Sound who remains completely unexposed after only a handful of starts. Richard Johnson would have had the choice of the three and his decision has to be respected.
2-05 OLBG.COM MARES HURDLE (LISTED) – 2 M 5 F
Jessber’s Dream has proved an exciting recruit to hurdling having romped home with victories at Exeter and Lingfield prior to Christmas. Those wins came on absolutely bottomless ground and that looks set to be the case once again here. She was far from disgraced when she chased home Myska at Taunton last time and she in turn pulled some five lengths clear of the third placed Surtee Du Berlais.
Jennies Jewel looks a danger to the selection having run with credit on her two most recent starts at Ascot and Punchestown. Jarlath Fahey is likely to have her primed to run another huge race but she has never proven herself over a trip this far and that has to be a concern. Petite Parisienne has to give weight away all around this afternoon as she carries a grade one penalty into the race. Willie Mullins should have a handle on just how good Jessber’s Dream is as he trains Myska and this talented mare could well provide the biggest threat.
Jessber’s Dream is still only a five year old and she may well have a bit too much speed for her rivals. She looks as though she will thrive for this step up in trip and she can make it three wins from her last four starts.
SATURDAY 1-50 NEWBURY ARGOCAT
SATURDAY 2-05 WARWICK JESSBER’S DREAM
SATURDAY 3-35 NEWBURY STERNRUBIN