1.20 Newbury

EMERGING TALENT (NAP) (best price 5/4) clocked an eye-wateringly good time when bolting up at Exeter last time out and it would be big disappointment to all concerned – particularly those of us that are backing Paul Nicholls’ charge – if he fails to take this en route to much bigger prizes further down the line. Up until that welcome victory at the West Country venue, the son of Golan had been a shade disappointing, but following an operation to sort out his wind, he looked a totally different proposition 43 days ago. Galloping on strongly in the latter stages on that well-run affair, the seven-year-old pulled readily clear of subsequent winner, Gala Ball, and just to prove the form and time figure are reliable, the likes of Pilgrims Bay, Sandford Castle and Bingo D’Olivate - who were totally thrashed – have either won or run well since. Entered in the big Betfair Hurdle until the final forfeit stage, connections clearly feel as though there’s a big pot to be plundered with their horse somewhere along the way, but for now, the easier pickings of this race should prove as a nice stepping stone towards a classier spring target of their choice.
Emerging Talent - 4pt @ 5/4Lost -4pt

1.50 Newbury

MILLANISI BOY (best price 5/1) really came of age with a game victory at Chepstow last time out and he looks ready to take the step up in quality in his stride in this competitive little handicap. Richard Woollacot’s charge caught the proverbial tartar when bumping into the well-handicapped Unowhatimeanharry over an extended 2m 4f here two starts ago and with the winner following up in Grade 2 company next time at Cheltenham and third and fifth also scoring subsequently, the form looks rock-solid. The son of Kalanisi needed all his powers of stamina to wear down the ultra-game Never Equalled at the Welsh venue on his most recent outing, but with the time figure suggest it was a decent race and fifth home, Minella Daddy, confirming that view with a win next time, he doesn’t appear too badly treated off 125 on handicap debut.
Millanisi Boy - 1pt e/w @ 5/1Lost -2pt

2.00 Lingfield

Some may argue that BLACKLISTER (best price 9/4) is living up to his name having had plenty of chances to get off the mark, but on closer inspection of his most recent form, today might well be the day he finally rewards his loyal supporters. Mick Channon’s charge must have run over a black cat to have bumped into the progressive Sea Of Flames when clocking his fastest speed figure in defeat here two starts ago and the same comments could apply to his latest tale of woe behind another useful type in the shape of Byres Road at Chelmsford. With nothing of that level in opposition here today, the son of Lawman should be able to seal the deal.
Blacklister - 1pt @ 9/4Won 2.25pt

3.00 Newbury

All eyes will obviously be on Champion Chaser Dodging Bullets as he makes his eagerly-awaited return, but with Cheltenham on the horizon, it wouldn’t the biggest surprise in the world if Paul Nicholls has left a little bit to work with, so with that in mind, TOP GAMBLE (best price 5/1) may prove to be the safest option – particularly at the prices. Kerry Lee has been one of the success stories of the season and she’s certainly hasn’t been afraid to take on the big boys as Mountainous and Co have proved throughout the winter months. Although the son of Presenting hasn’t added anything in the win column, he’s run two notable races in defeat under big weights in strongly-contested handicaps and with both testing ground and track very much in his favour, a positive ride from the front can bear fruit for this likeable eight-year-old.
Top Gamble - 1pt @ 5/1Won 5pt

4.25 Warwick

BACK BY MIDNIGHT (best price 14/1) ran an absolute blinder over this C&D last time out and there’s every chance he will be right in the thick of the action again if he can run to a similar level. Serving up strong fractions at the head of affairs, Emma Baker’s charge only gave way in the latter stages of that competitive handicap and with the form of the race taking a timely boost with fourth-placed No Ceiling bolting up at Doncaster yesterday, odds around the 14/1 mark look way too big for this bold, front runner (likely to trade shorter in the run for exchange players).
Back By Midnight - 0.5pt e/w @ 14/1Lost -1pt