BIG-RACE PREVIEWS -1 Daqman today checks out the stats on Saturday’s big Newbury hurdle and explains why four horses with connecting form are likely to stand their ground.

BIG-RACE PREVIEWS -2 Tomorrow Daqman updates his Cheltenham ante-post bets.

MIXED NEWS: Doncaster passed an inspection on Thursday with racing set to go ahead but Thurles has been called off after heavy overnight rain.


⭕ 3.15 Newbury, Saturday (2m hurdle) STATS: Still known affectionately as the Schweppes among old-timers, dominated in the Sixties by trainer Ryan Price (four wins out of five) and Josh Gifford (four as a jockey for Price, one on his own account as a trainer in 1990).

CURRENT LEADING TRAINERS: Nicky Henderson 5, Gary Moore 3, Nigel Twiston-Davies 3. Last Irish winners: Jessica Harrington 2003, Michael O’Brien 2005.

AGE (this century): 5 and 6yo 16; 7yo 4. Only three winners over the age of 7 since its inception in 1963.

WEIGHT: 11st 3lb to 11st 8lb seven; 10st 5lb to 10st 10lb eight.

IBERICO LORD (Nicky Henderson) Ran up to Under Control (now a 137) in the novices’ championship final at Sandown last April, half a length in it at level weights.

Won the Greatwood (soft) at Cheltenham first run back, receiving 6lb from the second, Lookaway, and 10lb from the third, Luccia.

Of these four, all bar Lookaway are trained by Henderson; only Iberica Lord now has a weight within the guidelines of the stats and is the only one to have scored over the Newbury CD.

Trained by Neil King, Lookaway ran second in the Challow Hurdle the last day. Luccia was always doing enough to beat Altobelli, though giving 5lb (premier handicap, good) at the Ascot Christmas meeting.

TELLHERTHENAME (Ben Pauling) The in-form trainer regards the Huntingdon winner (twice) as ‘an unbelievably class horse’. Needs the ground to remain good to soft.

L’EAU DU SUD (Dan Skelton), third in a big-field hurdle at Kelso last March, ‘went wrong’ behind Iberico Lord in the Greatwood with an injury that has kept him out since. Had win ops and still ‘could be anything.’

OCASTLE DES MOTTES (Willie Mullins) First run since moving from Gaby Leenders in France to the same ownership as El Fabiolo; won two 4yo hurdles on very soft and heavy in France last Spring and summer.


⭕ 2.40 Doncaster Despite a morning inspection the going is good at Doncaster where snow was the overnight worry.

This class 3 handicap hurdle looks the best race on the card, however the likely favourite Ilanz is looking a little short on Betdaq Betting Exchange for my money.

He got up in the shadow of the post to win a class 4 race at Wincanton last month but has been given a whopping 8lb rise in the weights by the handicapper which is pretty incredible for what was only a short head success after all.

In fairness you can argue he has the potential to improve further given his Wincanton run was the first for a new yard (Anthony Charlton) but that’s more than factored into the price and he is up in grade today.

Pentland Hills is a solid alternative. Nicky Henderson’s nine-year-old ran a good race over course and distance in December in this same grade to finish second and with Freddie Gordon taking 5lb off he could easily improve – especially as he gets the ground he likes.

He lost his way a little at the end of last season but the more testing ground may have been to blame.


⭕ 2.50 Huntingdon (Sidney Banks Memorial Listed) It looks a cracking renewal of the feature despite just a quartet taking part.

All four were winners last time out including Handstands who maintained his unbeaten record with a seven length success at Newcastle where he had the field well strung out. He’s up significantly in grade today (from class 4) but he clearly looks an exciting prospect for Ben Pauling whose yard is in cracking form.

It’s a coin flip as to whether he will start favourite or Nicky Henderson’s Jango Baie who is already proven in the class department having landed the rescheduled Tolworth Hurdle at Aintree on Boxing Day. That’s really solid form and he should be hard to beat here despite the Grade 1 penalty.

Diamond Ri won nicely at Warwick but is in at the deep end today whereas Bugise Seagull is also mixing it at the top table having won both his rules starts so far at Catterick and Southwell.


⭕ 4.30 Newcastle Julie Camacho should land this with Beraz whose form reads very well in the context of this race.

Two recent placed efforts here in much better class races should make this class 3 a winning opportunity and he would have gone closer last time out but for having a troubled run through in a class 2.

The morning offers of 3.7 on Betdaq were much more generous than I was expecting,


2.40 Doncaster (win 10)

2.50 Huntingdon (win 10, nap)
BET 6.4pts win JANGO BAIE

4.30 Newcastle (win 10)
BET 3.7pts win BERAZ

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