Bets of the Day: Gala Ball loves it round here and any more rain will only help

Richard Johnson
Richard Johnson can steer Gala Ball home

Alan Thompson is back in the chair today and has an each-way selection and a double from the cracking televised card at Newbury...

"The nine-year-old has had six starts at Newbury and hasn't finished outside the first two"

Back Gala Ball Each Way @ 15/2 in the 13:50 Newbury

Gala can be the belle of the Ball at Newbury

13:50 Newbury - Gala Ball

Gala Ball for Philip Hobbs has an incredible record at this venue, the nine-year-old has had six starts and hasn't finished outside the first two, winning twice, including on his latest outing here when landing a handicap chase in March. He is just 4lbs higher on his reappearance today, which looks more than manageable, particularly as he still looks open to improvement over fences after just seven chase starts. With Richard Johnson doing the steering once again, everything looks set for another big performance. He has also gone well before after a long lay off, he finished second to A Hare Breath after 252 days away from the track on his chasing bow, this time he is returning after 251.

It's a cracking renewal though and he will have to be at his very best if he is to beat the likes of Kalashnikov and Glen Forsa. The former is a worthy favourite who took the Grade 1 Manifesto Novices Chase at Aintree on his final start last season and then ran a more than creditable second in the Old Roan back at that venue on last month's reappearance. Aso won this last year off a rating of 150, that was the highest rated winner for the last six years, if the favourite is to get home he will have to do it off 155 which may be a big ask. Glen Forsa is another that has been off the track for sometime, Mick Channon's charge is returning from a 239 day break after being pulled up against the favourite in that same Aintree race and he also unseated his rider in the Arkle the time before that, but he wasn't sent off the 9/2 second favourite for that race for nothing.

Both Champ and Paisley Park are hard to oppose today

14:25 & 15:00 Newbury - Champ / Paisley Park Double

The reappearance of Paisley Park and the second chasing start from the exciting Champ are another two reasons not to miss today's racing. The pair are well worth watching not only today but throughout the season and injury aside you can expect to see them both line up as strong fancies at the festival in March. Last year was one of the most emotional wins of the festival as Paisley Park in his now trademark style of coming late to the party ran up the hill and gave owner Mr Andrew Gemmell the day of his life. He is unbeaten in his last five starts and although he has been out of action for 260 days I don't think that will stop him today.

Of the two, the one I am more concerned about is Champ, the trip may be a bit on the short side for him but I think he has enough class to pull it off. The horse owner JP McManus named after Tony McCoy, returned to action at this track three weeks ago after a 216 day rest and beat one of his opponents today Dashel Drasher by three and a half lengths. I don't see any reason why that form should be reversed today.

The danger is probably going to come from Black Op, a top class novice hurdler in 2017/18, last season did not quite go to plan for him though, but he has made an impressive start to this campaign when running out an easy winner at Stratford last month. This is a big step up from that though and he would have to improve a fair bit more to beat Champ.

I am sure plenty of punters will be putting them in a Friday double (paying around 15/8 at the time of writing), and I am going to pitch in with them.

2019 (prior to this week) : -6.07pts

This week so far...

Staked: 0 pts
Returned: 0 pts

2019 P&L -6.07pts
2018 P&L +82.29pts
2017 P&L +53.30pts
2016 P&L +15.23pts

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