Friday, 12 February 2016

Betfair Hurdle day at Newbury

Paul Nicholls
1.20 Emerging Talent joined the stable after winning a Naas Bumper in March 2014. Ran 4 times in competitive Grade 2 and Listed Novice Hurdles - finishing second on three occasions and fell on the other. He had a wind operation over the summer. He's a horse that has plenty of pace and travels well and he returned at Chepstow in October in the Grade 2 Persian War novices hurdle over 2m 3f 100y on good going where he finished 4th of the 6 runners having gone off at odds on. He pulled hard in the first time hood and made a few mistakes there so the result was disappointing.
After having an operation on his palate he dropped right down in class to a Class 5 maiden hurdle at Exeter on New Years Day over 2m 1f on heavy and wearing a first time tongue strap he duly won having been in command from 3 out.
He now steps back up to Class 3 level over 2m 69y and he should have no problem in winning this now that the stable are in better form and Nick Schofield takes the ride.

1.50 Keltus was thought to be on a good mark when going to the festival last season, having been 4th in the Fred Winter in 2014, but he didn't seem to stay the two mile four and a half furlong trip of the Listed handicap chase and he eventually fell. He returned over hurdles in a Pertemps qualifier at Sandown in December and finished 6th of the 10 runners where having made an effort to go second two out was then unable to quicken and faded. 
He then went to Kempton on Boxing Day for a Class 3 handicap hurdle over 2m 5f where he finished 3rd of the 14 runners where he didn't quite have enough pace to trouble the winner.
He's only won the once from 16 starts back in 2013 so he's not a regular to the winners enclosure like some of the stable and he steps up to 3m here for the first time in a Class 2 handicap hurdle having been raised 4lb to 134 for his 3rd place last time out.

2.25 Rocky Creek was 5th in the 2014 Grand National but like so many horses he didn't fancy it next time and he came home a well beaten 17th. He ran well on his return at Down Royal against top opposition who had the benefit of a run. He is a very good horse on his day and could have run in last seasons Gold Cup. He had cheek pieces on for the first time at Aintree on his second start of the season in December when he contested the Grand Sefton handicap chase over 2m 5f round the National course. That day he was hampered by a faller at the 9th fence and couldn't get back into it and was eventually pulled up.
He now contests a Grade 2 over 2m 7f 86y on this flat track which should suit and he is well in with all of the field on handicap ratings bar one and that is David Pipe's Ballynagour whom he meets on 7lb worse terms.

3.00 Dodging Bullets is a top class chaser that won three Grade 1 chases last season culminating in him winning the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham in March.
He has had some issues since then and he returns here in the Grade 2 Game Spirit Chase which his stablemate Mr Mole won last season. This has been the plan for a while and he really should have no problem in recording a win if he is anything like his best and it sounds from the stable as though he is virtually up to peek.

3.35 Modus finished 2nd in the Champion bumper at the Cheltenham festival behind Moon Racer. He then finished 3rd behind Bellshill and Disko at Punchestown. He changed hands for 190,000GBP and returned to the fray at Taunton to win a Class 3 novices hurdle over 2m 3f on good going readily. He then went to Newbury and won another Class 3 novices hurdle at the shorter distance of 2m 69y before going back up in distance to 2m 3f 1y at Taunton in a Class 4 event where he had to carry a 10lb penalty and he could only finish 4rd of the 13 runners beaten five and a half lengths behind Miles To Milan. He was in a close third when he was ridden between the last two flights but he could only keep on at the same pace from the last on the heavy going with the 10lb penalty.
I have no doubt that he is better than that and he should appreciate the slightly better going and faster pace that he will encounter here in this ultra competitive handicap. He has a reasonable handicap mark of 139h, Nick Schofield has the ride and he should be bang there at the finish.

1.30 Vivaldi Collonges is said to stay forever but he came back with a bang over 2m 7f 96y at Kelso when easily winning a Class 2 handicap chase off a mark of 134c on his return. Prior to that he hadn't been seen since picking up a slight injury and pulling up in the National Hunt Chase over 4m at the festival and with only 11 races under rules to date there is room for further improvement from this 7yo.
He went up 8lb in the handicap for that win at Kelso to 142c and he then contested the Grade 3 Betfred Classic Chase at Warwick over 3m 5f on heavy going where he finished 5th of the 14 runners in what were gruelling conditions to say the least. You couldn't really say he didn't stay the distance as plenty of good stayers were pulled up behind him.
He's back at Warwick again now in a Class 3 novice chase over the shorter distance of 3m 1f 100y and once again the going is heavy but he only has to face two other opponents it would seem so he has a chance of getting another win on the board for the stable. 

Dan Skelton runs two tomorrow but I'm not keen on either of them - that said both may run well and it's one for you if you wish to back them.

1 point ew Modus @ 9/1 with Betfred and Totesport who both pay out on 5 places whereas some other bookies don't.

There will be no post for Sundays racing as I will be away - however there are some entries from the stables we are following that you should look out for.

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