12:15 Newbury

Leg 1 Selections: Poetic Music, Letterston Lady 

The Nicky Henderson-trained Luccia has won both her starts to date but the form of her Listed win at Cheltenham has received a few knocks and she might find it tough to beat POETIC MUSIC on her hurdles debut here. The latter was sixth in the Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival and has won all her four other starts, including on hurdles debut last time. She’s open to further improvement and has tasted bumper success at this course too, so she’s the one I want on the shortlist. 

Peter Bowen has sent one on the long journey for the opener in the shape of LETTERSTON LADY, who progressed with each start in bumpers, winning twice, before easing to success on her hurdles debut by eight lengths at Worcester. I know this is a big rise in grade but connections clearly feel as though she could be up to the challenge ahead and she isn’t one to be underestimated as she seeks a four-timer and bids to remain unbeaten in this sphere. 

12:45 Newbury

Leg 2 Selections: Thyme Hill, McFabulous 

THYME HILL was far from impressive in the jumping department on his chase debut at Exeter but he still won by seventeen lengths and is the class act in the field. He was a very good stayer over hurdles, who won twice in Grade One events, and he would have learnt a lot from his chase debut. His jumping will be put under immense pressure over these stiff obstacles but last season's Stayers' Hurdle second should emerge as the winner. 

Paul Nicholls’ MCFABULOUS was a smart hurdler himself and while something seemed amiss on his return/chase debut, he comfortably made amends at Exeter last month. He wasn’t far behind the former over hurdles on the figures but the issue is that he’s yet to win beyond 2m5f, so his stamina will be put to test here. He does, however, have a good record on good ground and will probably win this if the favourite underperforms. 

13:20 Newbury

Leg 3 Selections: Kitty’s Light, Zanza

There is a possibility that this trip will be on the short side but this race is sure to be run at a strong pace and this could be the time KITTY’S LIGHT finally lands a valuable pot for connections. He made the frame three times in Grade Three events last season, including in the Scottish Grand National off a mark of 143 and third in the bet365 Gold Cup off 145 and is back on an attractive mark with fitness sure to be spot-on now. 

Jack Tudor has still opted to ride him over Cap Du Nord, who he actually rode to victory in this race two years ago, so in the hope he can keep his mount interested and in contention when the race starts to get competitive, the six-year-old could go well at huge odds top-weight. Plus Christian Williams has to be respected with his runners. ZANZA is well-treated and is the second choice. 

13:55 Newbury

Leg 4 Selections: Porticello, Washington 

This is a really-competitive handicap event but PORTICELLO was a smart juvenile last season and despite conditions being on the fast side, Gary Moore’s charge has to come under consideration on his handicap debut here. He won the Grade One Finale in great style at Chepstow having split both Knight Salute and Impulsive One at Doncaster in a Grade Two. 

He then ploughed through the ground to win easily on his next start at Haydock to make it three wins from four starts in Britain and fared best the British when sixth in the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham on his final start. He should be fully effective at this longer distance and there’s a possibility he could have too many gears and class for these if able to handle the likely quicker conditions with his trainer in great form. 

Olly Murphy saddles just the one runner on the card, WASHINGTON, who could be a big player now tackling this longer distance. He has only finished out of the frame once in all career starts which came when fifth of ten on his return at Ascot last month. 

He has yet to compete over a trip this far but he could be suited to it and connections will apply the hood too. He was third off this mark in a big-field handicap at Aintree back in April, so he’s clearly capable of being competitive off this mark and, with that latest run under his belt, he could go very well here. 

14:30 Newbury

Leg 5 Selections: First Street, Teddy Blue 

Nicky Henderson saddles two for this race and slight preference out of the two goes to FIRST STREET, who was an excellent third in the Betfair Hurdle over course-and-distance back in February before pushing State Man to a length when second in the County Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. Those two pieces of form are the best on offer and while he could only finish fifth in a Grade One at Aintree on his final start last term, he has to be considered a big player given his trainers good record in this and with the best form on offer, as a repeat could see him defy top-weight on his return here. 

TEDDY BLUE was highly tried earlier this year and his only disappointment so far was when down the field in tenth place in the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. He returned with a close-up second in a Listed event and would have won without a mistake at the second last hurdle before easily going one better when last spotted. He looks to have been let in lightly on his handicap debut off 129 here and, with more to come, Gary Moore’s smart youngster could take some pegging back here. He can capitalise on the weight he gets from First Street, who’s his biggest danger. 

15:05 Newbury

Leg 6 Selections: Threeunderthrufive, Oscar Elite

As always, the Coral Gold Cup is one of the toughest handicaps of the jumps season, but I am quite keen on two participants for this year’s race. The first one of the two is the Paul Nicholls-trained THREEUNDERTHRUFIVE, who’s been targeted at this race for quite a while by the champion trainer. The seven-year-old has the ideal profile for this race and has won nine of his fourteen career starts to date. He won four of his first five starts over hurdles with his only defeat that campaign coming in the 2021 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle when sixth of 16. 

He has since matched that form over fences, where he won four on the trot, including a pair of Grade Two events and shaped a lot better than the finishing position indicated when sixth in the Brown Advisory Novices' Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. It’s clear that Cheltenham isn’t really his course and elsewhere, he’s a winning machine. He had a nice prep-run over hurdles at Wetherby last time when third and cheekpieces will be applied here. His yard is in excellent form and his trainer has a greys record in this contest, so this seven-year-old must have an excellent each-way chance here. 

Colin Tizzard has also enjoyed plenty of success in this race and I think his OSCAR ELITE, who also warmed up for this race with a spin at Wetherby (same race as the former), has a good chance at the weights. He is yet to win over fences but he twice made the frame in Grade One events over hurdles and ran a belter when third of 24 to Corach Rambler in the Ultima Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March. 

He should be a lot sharper for his reappearance over hurdles and Harry Cobden, who rode him at Cheltenham, is back in the saddle. He clearly has a big pot in him, so in the hope he can travel and jump as well as he can do, this talented seven-year-old has to be classed as one of the leading players. Moreover, he gets into this off a really low-weight and the good ground will suit him well indeed. This could be his time to shine.