As another fantastic season of summer National Hunt racing in Devon comes to an end, we are treated to a mouth-watering card full of seasonal reappearances in what promises to be a stylish Newton Abbot finale. Over £90,000 prize money is on offer which has attracted two Grade 1 winning horses to make the journey down to the South West in the form of Ballyoptic and Flying Angel. This is the perfect way to end the Newton Abbot season, and transition into the National Hunt season proper. Here I will be going through each race, picking out the ones to watch, and ultimately who is going to win (hopefully!). Be sure to follow me on twitter @JakePriceTips for live updates from the track and any tips from the Irish meeting at Downpatrick.
“Before we dive into first race, I would just like to thank Newton Abbot Racecourse for putting on such a great summer of National Hunt racing. The Devon track has become a second home to me recently, as I’ve been in attendance no fewer than eleven times since May. Not only do they provide huge prize money and attract the best of the summer jumpers, but it is such an enjoyable day out, with a brilliant paddock area and a fantastic view of the whole track. Whilst I am excited to be back on the Haldon Hills at Exeter throughout the winter months, I will be just as happy to return to the most southerly racecourse (hopefully in the sunshine!) come 31st March 2018. So once again, thank you for a great season Newton Abbot!” – Jake Price
14:00 – Novices’ Hurdle (Class 4)
Today’s outstanding card starts off with an about 2m1f Novices’ Hurdle where Darling Maltaix, who disappointed in a Bumper at the last meeting here, makes Hurdles debut. The Paul Nicholls trained Gelding won a French Flat race back in May 2016, beating a horse who had previously finished 3rd to Defi Du Seuil. Another horse to note is Al Shahir of Dan Skelton, who made a better impression in his bumper performances. The son of Robin Des Champs won a Newcastle NH Flat Race on heavy ground in February, and it will be interesting to see just how good he is. The later is just preferred here based on current achievements.
Selection: Al Shahir to Win @ 11/4
14:35 – Novices’ Chase (Class 3)
Whilst only facing one rival (well, stablemate!) on Chase debut, Diego Du Charmil impressed with a really slick round of jumping for the 10 times champion trainer, and goes again under Sam Twiston-Davies, but will harshly have to run under a 5lbs penalty. The 2016 Fred Winter champion achieved a rating of 149 over Hurdles, and won’t mind a bit of cut in the ground. Shrewd dual-purpose trainer Alan King sends out The Unit for his Chase debut in this 2m½f contest. The 142 rated Hurdler was nearly mistaken as a Taunton course specialist last season, before turning up with a brilliant 3rd in the Grade 1 Top Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree. This Gelding has always looked like he’d make a better chaser than Hurdler, and in recipient of weight, could be one to watch under Wayne Hutchinson. Shantou Rock is another horse who had a good Novice Hurdle season, and can improve for fences. Dan Skelton’s charge won on Handicap debut over Hurdles and could be one to stay on side when eventually going Handicap Chasing, however will probably find these rivals too hot today.
Selection: Diego Du Charmil to Win @ 6/5
15:10 – Handicap Hurdle (Class 2)
In the third race of the day we are treated to a fantastic 3m2½f Handicap Hurdle worth £24,550. Ballyoptic and his fans were well and truly put in their place last season by Unowhatimeanharry, however the staying hurdler is well above the level of today’s rivals. Nigel Twiston-Davies sends the former Grade 1 winner south for what should be a prep run before a season over fences. Capable amateur Zac Baker is treated to the ride and will claim 5lbs which should confirm victory despite carrying clear top weight. Beer Goggles is one challenger to make note of, as being reverted back to distance hurdling has brought out the best in this brown Gelding. This will be a dramatic step up in competition which is likely to be a step too far though, and he is probably one to keep on side in weaker company. Winningtry is another Handicapper to look out for this season. Owned by Trevor Hemmings, the Paul Nicholls Gelding won a 3m Handicap at the Ayr Festival in April, and looks to have another prize pot in him in the distance hurdling division.
Despite performances dropping off last season, a step down in class here should see Ballyoptic return to winning ways, in another race that is likely to produce some future winners.
Selection: Ballyoptic to Win @ 10/3
15:45 – Intermediate Chase (Class 2)
Today’s feature race is the Intermediate Chase over about 2m5f and we are set for a cracking race at the Devon track. The second Grade 1 winner of the day to line up comes in the form of Manifesto Novices’ Chase conqueror Flying Angel. The second season Novice Chaser, also of Nigel Twiston-Davies, makes his seasonal reappearance where the aim will be to gain some racecourse fitness before moving on to bigger objectives. Paul Nicholls sends out Frodon to try and lay down a challenge, but he was well beaten behind the aforementioned in the Manifesto at Aintree, and will need to improve markedly to score today. Having said this, the French import is no slouch (himself being a Grade 2 winner!) and will surely be closer this time around. Among the others in this exciting field is Black Corton, also of Paul Nicholls, who goes into this having made four chase appearances in Novice company throughout the summer (Was beaten 63l by Altior on Chase debut in November 2016). Whilst Bryony Frost’s mount will receive over a stone in weight from his rivals, the Graded stars should prove to be too good here.
Selection: Flying Angel (NB) to Win @ 2/1
16:20 – Mares’ Handicap Hurdle (Class 4)
The rest of the card is not quite so glorified, however G For Ginger is one to watch in this 2m5½f Mares’ Handicap Hurdle. Despite being allocated a weight of 11-11, the Anthony Honeyball trained seven-year old won gamely at Worcester last time out and looked in need of a step up in trip. The talented David Noonan will saddle the Mare who is moving into Handicap company for the first time. One that stands out to me however is the Seamus Mullins trained Kentford Heiress, who has been placed in her last three starts over timber. Daniel Samson will take the ride of the top weight, claiming 7lbs in the process, and looks a good bet after finishing 3rd at Plumpton in a Class 3 Handicap Hurdle over further last month.
Selection: Kentford Heiress to Win @ 11/2
16:55 – Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase (Class 4)
The penultimate race of the day sees another batch of Novice Chasers go around the Devon track, however this time it’s a 3m2f Handicap. Doitforjoe receives a very lenient weight of 11-2 despite winning a Chase last time out and seems to be the best of these. The brilliant Noel Fehily takes the ride for David Dennis, and experience should prove to be the deciding factor here. Daklondike looks a very interesting Chase debutant out of David Pipe’s yard, being beaten in better company than this over hurdles last season. The Tom Scudamore mount beat the very useful Prime Venture this time last year, and could shape into a decent handicap chaser. It may pay to side with experience here mind, especially as the selection gets 6lbs from the Pipe charge.
Selection: Doitforjoe to Win @ 3/1
17:25 – National Hunt Flat Race (Class 5)
We conclude the season at Newton Abbot with a 2m1f National Hunt Flat Race in which the champion jockey Richard Johnson has an eye catching ride on Crooks Peak. This will be a first racecourse appearance for the four-year-old, who has the same sire as Flying Angel (runs earlier in the card if you don’t remember!). With pedigree to become another Philip Hobbs chaser of the future, it will be intriguing to see how he gets on here. Another interesting runner is Brianstorm, who comes into this off the back of a Fairyhouse point-to-point victory. Trained by Warren Greatrix, the Gelding beat a useful Henry de Bromhead hurdler in Cinema De Quartier by a massive 14 lengths. The experience of having this run – combined with the form it carries – means we take a chance on Greatrix charge.
Selection: Brianstorm to Win @ 11/4
I hope I’ve helped you to pick out some winners for the Season Finale, and that everyone enjoys a profitable day! Remember to follow me on Twitter @JakePriceTips for live updates throughout the meeting, including photos of our selections in the parade ring. I will also be tweeting Tips from the Irish National Hunt meeting at Downpatrick. Once again, thank you for a great Summer of National Hunt Racing, Newton Abbot!
The next meeting I will be covering with a Preview is The Showcase at Cheltenham on the 27th October. A list of my racing schedule can be found here.
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Best of Luck with all your bets!🏇
– Jake Price