Sam Turner has all the best bets for Saturday's Channel 4 races from Newbury and Warwick.
Philip Hobbs has run nine horses in this handicap in the last decade and only two have been placed so perhaps Sykes can be taken on with MILLANISI BOY
. The selection needs to confirm his stamina at this trip, but he ran well over two and a half miles behind the classy Unowhatimeanharry on his penultimate start at the Berkshire venue and needed all of the trip at Chepstow to score last time.
Sykes has been beaten off today’s mark on his last two starts and is reluctantly overlooked along with Zeroeshadesofgrey who looked to enjoy the decent ground when scoring at Doncaster.
Millanisi Boy - 1pt e/w @ 6/1
arguably faced a near impossible task last time attempting to chase home Vroum Vroum Mag at Ascot, but a repeat of that effort could make her tough to beat here. Her circuit time that day was on a par with the likes of two milers Gibralfaro and Connetable (a good winner since) and just behind the 144-rated Rock The Kasbah who won a prestigious and generously-run handicap over a shorter trip.
She stays well, handles deep ground and is fairly consistent so is fancied to see off Jessber’s Dream, runner-up to Myska at Taunton, and Petite Parisienne.
Jennies Jewel - 1pt @ 9/4
Paul Nicholls has dominated this race in the last decade, winning it five times in the last 10 runnings and, with his horses beginning to turn the corner, ROCKY CREEK
narrowly gains the vote over Ballynagour. As he gets older, the 10-year-old appears to appreciate being fresh as he was when hacking up impressively in a valuable Kempton handicap 12 months ago. He again disappointed over the National fences last time (was also disappointing in the National last spring) but could be happier back at today’s venue.
Ballynagour is another horse that seems best undercooked, but his last two efforts in the Betfair Chase and King George have been lamentable, while Houblon Des Obeaux goes well at this venue but has struggled to make his mark despite having his conditions this term.
Rocky Creek - 1pt @ 7/4
An awful turnout for the prize money and bookmakers won’t be taking a chance with the price of L’AMI SERGE
. He has won both of his chases to date at Plumpton and Wetherby at long odds-on and has displayed good technique in his new vocation to score with comfort on both occasions.
Violet Dancer overcame errors to score gamely at Newbury, while Fox Norton was well beaten behind a stablemate of L’Ami Serge in Vanitux at Doncaster.
Forecast - L’Ami Serge to beat Violet Dancer - 1pt @ 1/1
is reported to be far from fully tuned up for his seasonal reappearance, but he should still outclass his rivals here.
Last season’s Champion Chase winner has been sidelined with a setback for much of the season, but schooled very well earlier this week and can concede weight all round.
Top Gamble drops in trip after chasing home Village Vic in a strongly-run Cheltenham handicap and looks the chief danger to the warm favourite. Captain Conan has his first run over fences in nearly two years and it is hard to know what to expect following a 25l defeat by The New One over hurdles at Haydock.
Dodging Bullets - 1pt @ 8/11
Some firms will be paying five places on this fiercely-contested event so it could pay to shop around for the right terms regarding AGRAPART
and AFFAIRE D’HONNEUR
. The former looks well worth playing at 20/1 given he was an honourable third at Sandown behind Yorkhill in the Tolworth Hurdle last time and has also chased home the classy Ma Da Fou this term.
Sandwiched between was a 20-length hammering of Braavos who has won since and the only slight negative to his chance is his affinity for forcing the pace, as the presence of Sternrubin will make it difficult to dominate. For my money, his form looks stronger than that of Modus yet he is four times the price.
Affaire D’Honneur hails from a firm who have already won a tidy handicap hurdle in the same colours this week and it’s worth noting they ran a similar type in Arzal in this event 12 months ago. He may well have gone close that day but for being broadsided by a faller and the son of Shirocco could be very well treated on a mark of 132 after an encouraging performance on his UK bow at Kempton.
Agrapart - 0.5pt e/w @ 20/1
Affaire D'Honneur - 0.5pt e/w @ 10/1