Newbury, Saturday 2.25pm
The Denman Chase brings together a select but intriguing field for what is the last of the English Cheltenham Gold Cup trials, and the weights are headed by recent Sandown scorer Unioniste. However, on Hennessey form from November, he shouldn’t be able to beat Houblon Des Obeaux who carries 4lb less here yet gave him weight and finished 5 places in front of him in the Hennessey. This is no two horse race though and the likes of Holywell and Taquin Du Seuil have every chance at the weights. However, I’m going to take a real chance and back the novice Coneygree who has jumped brilliantly so far over fences – and his connections would see this as a major victory before a possible tilt at the Gold Cup.
3 points each-way Coneygree @ 5/1
Newbury, Saturday, 3.35pm
The last eight renewals of the Betfair Hurdle (or its equivalent) have been dominated by five and six year-olds who have won four each. Five of those eight winners carried less than 11-0 to victory, whilst the classier types of Essex, Zarkandar and My Tent Or Yours carried between 11-1 and 11-6 to victory here before going onto be successful in graded races.
Trainer Nicky Henderson has an excellent record having won 5 of the last 15 runnings, whilst Gary Moore won it back-to-back in 2007/8. AP McCoy has won three of the last 11 renewals whilst Jamie Moore rode both of his dad Gary’s winners to victory.
Nicky Henderson has two possible runners in Sign Of Victory 11-12 and Vasco De Ronceray 11-6, but the former has top-weight to carry and the latter will have to improve for the hurly burly of the big field – whilst neither of them have the obvious class of some of Henderson’s former winners.
Gary Moore also has a runner with a similar profile to his other winners in Violet Dancer who has only 10-6 to carry. However, he was beaten pointless last-time at the track.
One horse who looks potentially chucked in is Nick Skelton’s Fascino Rustico who easily brushed aside Zip Top at Newcastle recently. It will be a brace decision to pitch the novice in again seasoned handicappers – but equally he’ll probably never have the horse so well handicapped again. He carries 10-12 here and should enjoy the nature of the race.
1 point each-way Fascino Rustico @ 14/1
Leopardstown, Sunday 3.50pm
Only 9 possible runners, and only four of them hold a realistic chance unless the quartet all under-perform. Lord Windermere and Carlingford Lough look sure to have the Cheltenham Gold Cup as their primary target, and this may well be left to the two Willie Mullins horses Boston Bob and On His Own. Willie Mullins has won 9 of the last 16 renewals and can have the forecast here. However, which order his two runners will finish in is a tough call – and the reverse forecast looks the bet.
1 point reverse forecast: Boston Bob and On His Own