12:40 Newbury

A good race in prospect with the vote going to MILLERS BANK (best price 5-2), who is the highest rated of these and, having jumped impeccably when scoring on chase debut, the seven-year-old should prove hard to beat with more to offer. 

Alex Hales’ charge ran a blinder to finish third in a high-class renewal of the Grade One Aintree Hurdle last season. I don’t think the seven-year-old has been given enough credit for what he achieved that day having split multiple Grade One winners, while he also boasts course form having bolted up by ten-lengths over hurdles here last term. He gets a handy five-pounds from Tea Clipper and I highly doubt any of the three challengers here would have finished third in that Grade One at Aintree last term so, although this looks competitive on paper, he could be a very good novice chaser and can take this step up in class in his stride under Harry Bannister. 

Millers Bank - 1pt @ 5/2

13:15 Newbury

Nicky Henderson’s Jonbon, who is a full-brother to the top-class Douvan, cost a huge sum after winning an Irish point-to-point and had loads in hand when scoring over today’s course-and-distance in March. He could take all of the beating as he puts his tall reputation on the line, though, he will have to overcome a tricky customer in the shape of the Sam Thomas-trained GOOD RISK AT ALL (best price 2-1).

This smart five-year-old has some seriously strong bumper form in his back catalogue, courtesy of his two listed victories, including here when seeing off no fewer than five subsequent winners with the second, third, fourth, fifth and eighth winning since. Those in behind featured the likes of Might I, who impressed on hurdles debut, I Like To Move It, who is three-from-three having claimed a Grade Two at Cheltenham, Aintree winner Gelino Bello and Ayr winner Bill Baxter. He was turned over at short odds on hurdles debut at Chepstow, where he was a little hesitant at his obstacles, but that experience would have done him the world of good. He seems sure to do a lot better second time up in this sphere and can present a major threat to the odds-on favourite in this line-up. 

Good Risk At All - 1pt @ 2/1

13:50 Newbury

SOLO (best price 6-1) looked to really enjoy himself on chase debut when just touched off at Ascot and, although he’s gone up four-pounds as a result, Paul Nicholls’ charge has an excellent chance of going one better in the Ladbrokes Daily Odds Boosts Chase Novices' Limited Handicap Chase. 

I don’t think the drop back to two-miles will do him any harm as he has a lot of pace and often travels very powerfully throughout his races. He once promised to scale the top of the novice hurdle division and, despite not matching those expectations, he looked a natural in this sphere last time. Harry Cobden and Paul Nicholls have an excellent strike-rate at this venue so their five-year-old is fancied to make his class tell in the closing stages.

Solo - 0.5pts e/w @ 6/1

14:25 Newbury

This is fairly competitive, as you’d expect, but Venetia Williams’ FANION D’ESTRUVAL (best price 5-2) has been highly tried since sauntering to success here on stable debut two years ago and given the fact he has largely performed well in multiple Grade One and Grade Two events since, including in the Ryanair at Cheltenham and when fourth on return in the Old Roan Chase, he is strongly fancied to make a bold bid off top-weight.

That latest showing in what was a really high-class Grade Two looked an ideal preparation for today’s easier assignment and course form around Newbury is no bad trait to have, either. He is open to further improvement over this trip and the substance of that latest form received a welcome boost when the runner-up, Midnight Shadow, won the Paddy Power at Cheltenham next-time-out. I have no doubt he’s the best horse in the race and looks a capable appointment on return to handicaps.

Fanion D'Estruval - 1pt @ 5/2

15:35 Newbury

The Play Ladbrokes 1-2-Free On Football Handicap Hurdle has attracted a good field of fifteen and I like the claims of two participants in the shape of SLATE HOUSE (best price 12-1) and SAINT SONNET (best price 11-1) with five places widely available for each. 

The former, Slate House - a Grade winner over fences, makes his handicap debut off an opening mark of 137 that looks eminently workable. He ran a satisfactory race at Wetherby in the Grade Two Bet365 hurdle behind Indefatigable and is entitled to improve for the run after a long absence. This is undoubtedly the weakest race he’ll have competed in on paper given the level of competition he has faced throughout his career. He comes with risks attached but he’s a former Grade Two winner this sphere with his stable among the winners and, with most firms offering five places, backing him each-way with them makes plenty of appeal.

The Paul Nicholls-trained Saint Sonnet, was expected to achieve big things when starting out for Paul Nicholls in which he competed in the Marsh at the Cheltenham Festival on just his second start and mostly been disappointing ever since. That said, he did show a lot more when third at Ayr in April (good form) when attempting to give Bass Rock nearly two-stone and can be forgiven his seventh in an especially strong event on his return to action off top-weight. The assessor has reduced his mark a further three-pounds and if there’s ever a time he gets his head in front, this could finally be that time, therefore, he’s worth an each-way punt with the five places on offer. 

Slate House - 0.5pts e/w @ 12/1
Saint Sonnet - 0.5pts e/w @ 11/1