The first evening meeting of the season at Newton Abbot sees a competitive card with some great racing on offer. Here are my selections for the evening. Remember to follow me on Twitter @JakePriceTips for daily Tips.
17:50 – Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (Class 4)
The evening starts with a battle of the Ladies, with the inform pairing of Dan and Harry Skelton being represented by Whatzdjazz. The Bay Mare won on her debut over hurdles at Worcester, driven out to a 2½ length victory over the 2m4f distance, but faces a sterner test today over 2m5½f around the Devon track. Despite the previous National Hunt Flat Race winner facing another step-up in trip, she has only been put up 4lbs to 11-4 from her previous performance. Philip Hobbs puts up a challenge for the Novice hurdle with Katy P. The more experienced Mare has had 4 runs over hurdles, recently finishing 2nd in a decent effort over an extended 2m7f, so the step back in trip will be welcomed. The Mare is also given a weight of 11-4, however jockey Ciaran Gethings has a 3lbs claim.
Looking at the times, the only comparable distance is over 2m4f. Katy P recorded a 5m2.7s, compared to Whatzdjazz time of 4m45s. Whilst the Skelton horse will need to prove herself over slightly further again today, she should have what it takes to take the opener, and the forecast looks extremely likely.
Bet: Whatzdjazz 1st, Katy P 2nd (Forecast) @ 5/2
18:20 – Novices’ Handicap Chase (Class 4)
Braqueur D’or has all the right connections for his Chase debut, however will need to defy a weight of 12-1 in the process. The Paul Nicholls trained Gelding finished 2nd over 3m1f in a Hurdle race in October, so should stay the 3m1f distance. A lot will depend on jockey Sam Twiston-Davies to get him home with his head infront.
Bet: Braqueur D’or to Win @ 5/4
18:50 – Handicap Hurdle (Class 3)
Floresco won this 2m2½f race 12 months ago, and looks to make it back to back wins at the Devon track in the feature race of the evening. The Richard Woollacott trained charge finished 5th at Haydock behind Stamp Your Feet last month on his seasonal return, beating one of today’s rivals in Brotherly Company. Weighted 11-12 for today’s contest, the CD winner will need to jump well under Daryl Jacob, against some very smart opponents. Another rival that has what it takes to win this race is Volpone Jelois. Trained by Paul Nicholls, the gelding ran in a Flat race at Salisbury 3 days ago, finishing 2nd over the 1m6f distance. Providing this run hasn’t come too soon, reverting back to hurdles today will be no issue, with a previous win and four places. Sam Twiston-Davies takes the ride on the 11-2 weighted horse.
In the times, Floresco recorded a 4m29s when winning over Course and Distance last year. Volpone Jelois hasn’t ran over this exact Distance, however has recorded a 4m36s over 2m3f. This would suggest that he ran a slightly faster time, and the 10lbs in hand will definitely be of advantage.
Bet: Volpone Jelois to Win @ 4/1 (NB)
19:20 – Handicap Hurdle (Class 5)
My only entry of interest here is Mexican Border, ridden by Jeremiah McGrath. The course specialist has ran here 7 times, winning on his penultimate start before a 2nd place last summer. The Martin Hill trained Gelding looks to extend that form on his seasonal return today.
Bet: Mexican Border E/W @ 6/1
19:50 – Handicap Chase (Class 4)
Champion Jockey Richard Johnson takes the ride of Scorpion Star in this about 2m5f contest, who looks a very interesting entry. Again from Martin Hill, the former Irish hurdler finished 2nd in a Maiden Hunters Chase at Sedgefield earlier this month, in which he had every chance before making a mistake at the last. At a weighting of 10-10, he should take all the beating today in his first Handicap start.
Bet: Scorpion Star to Win @ 7/2
20:20 – NH Flat Race (Class 6)
Philip Hobbs owned and trained Horse Force One will take all the beating in this 2m NH Flat race under Richard Johnson. The Gelding finished 7th in an Exeter bumper in 2015, before reverting back to point-to-point company and winning on his last start at Holnicote. Back under rules today, the Hobbs charge should be too good, with previous experience, and a good point-to-point win.
Bet: Horse Force One to Win @ 5/4