Saturday Racing Tips: Outsider Hadrian the smart Approach to the Hennessy

Tony has some big price selections for the second day of Newbury's Hennessy meeting
Tony has some big price selections for the second day of Newbury's Hennessy meeting

We have a cracking day of racing in store with the Hennessy taking centre stage at Newbury, and here with his big-price selections for that race, plus his thoughts on they day's over televised races, is our man Tony Calvin...

"He was rated 153 after that Sandown win but is now down to 139 - effectively 140 as he is 1lb out of the handicap - and I, obviously, saw enough in that Ascot reappearance to be sweet on his chances up in trip and on good to soft ground which should be ideal."

Back Hadrian's Approach at 42.041/1 in the 15:10 at Newbury

The importance of watching races and making your own mind up about performances was hammered home to me when assessing the chances of Hadrian's Approach in Saturday's Hennessy at 15:10, in which I make him a great bet at 42.041/1 or bigger.

The in-running comment for his Ascot reappearance reads "in touch in midfield on outer, lost place from 15th, well beaten from 3 out."

Which, when taken in conjunction with the fact that the horse was beaten 15 ½ lengths and only beat two home, would appear to give him a mountain to climb in the £200k contest, in which he races from 1lb out of the handicap, too.

However, when I watched that race back a couple of times I saw a completely different performance to that race-reader, and one full of promise.

Now, as on Twitter, a full assessment of how a horse has run in a race is limited by the word-count available, so I am not dissing the form comment to any significant degree.

But my interpretation of what I saw would be that the horse travelled powerfully for a long way on the outside and jumped neatly and accurately - perhaps as a result of forfeiting the ground on the inner, where the winner, Antony, hugged the rail, and getting a good look at his fences - and finished his race off pretty well in the straight after losing his place momentarily approaching the third -last.

Put it this way, I didn't see a horse out on his feet on the run-in.

I was very encouraged by the run, and I bet Nicky Henderson was, too, particularly with the way he jumped.

The horse doesn't have the best completion record and mistakes have often cost him dear throughout his career - he came to grief at the fifth in this race three years ago when a 12-1 chance - but he is a very smart chaser when on song.

Among his better efforts are a third in the RSA, a smart Graduation chase win here from the then 145-rated Super Duty, and a win in the 19-runner bet365 Gold Cup in 2014.

He was rated 153 after that Sandown win but is now down to 139 - effectively 140 as he is 1lb out of the handicap - and I, obviously, saw enough in that Ascot reappearance to be sweet on his chances up in trip and on good to soft ground which should be ideal.

His yard is in great form, and he appeals far more than his stablemate Vyta Du Roc, though I do give Triolo D'Alene a sniff at the prices.

One thing that slightly puzzles/worries me is that Henderson has put the cheek pieces back on that were left off at Ascot. I know that his Sandown win came in the pieces, but I'd have been inclined to leave them off myself; then again, what do I know about training 'osses?

I am going to be far more predictable with my second play in the race, though, and put up Smad Place at 14.013/1. If I had to name one horse in this race that I think is mostly likely to place, then it would be this grey, and I also think he has a better winning chance than his price implies.

He may be 11b higher than when winning this race by 12 lengths last season but that victory, and his subsequent defeat of Many Clouds in the Cotswold Chase, means that he deserves every ounce of the hike.

Connections learned the hard way from his 2014 first-time-out fifth in this race that they need to come here with a race-fit horse, and he warmed up for a repeat bid with an excellent fourth over 2m4f in the Old Roan last month, where he was coming back at them on the run-in.

There is plenty of pace in here but he doesn't need to lead, and conditions look ideal for him. I wouldn't swap him for any other horse in the race, for all that he comes here edging 10yo against some improvers.

Of the others, I can't have Vyta Du Roc at his current price at all - famous last words, but he looks the worst value in the race as it stands - but I can see the argument for Theatre Guide. He finished third in this race in 2013, runner-up last season and ran a cracker over 2m3f at Wetherby on his reappearance, his first run since having a wind op.

Nothing puzzling about Mystifiable's chances

By the time Channel 4 have come on air then Thistlecrack will have probably wowed/satisfied/disappointed - delete where applicable - in winning the 12:55 and Mystifiable would have obliged on More 4 in the 13:30.

He disappointed on his last start at Aintree but if you forgive that end-of-season effort in April, then he has a very attractive profile.

He may have gone up 22lb for his two previous wins, which included a course and distance success on good to soft, but that hike was fully deserved given the style and substance of the victories.

He always goes very well when fresh - he won first time out last season and his win here in March came after a nine-week lay-off - hails from a stable in great form and has apparently been targeted at this race. Back him at 10.09/1 or better.

Henry to relish switch back to hurdles

I don't fancy anything in 14:05 in the absence of Boite - it will be interesting to see if Favorito Buck's, who cost an arm and legs after winning in France, can fare better this season after a summer wind op - but Holly Bush Henry appeals at the prices in the next.

I was roundly ridiculed on Twitter for putting him up at 100-1 in the Supreme - after the race, obviously - so if you were one of those, this tip is just for you. Back him at 19.018/1 in the Gerry Fielden at 14:40.

He is only 5lb higher than when rattling up his hat-trick last season and I thought he ran very well when third in a hot race on his chasing debut at Wetherby.

He was a bit hesitant at his fences there, so the switch back to hurdles off a fair mark makes sense and 16-1+ looks big.

No secret that Mole looks well handicapped

The 15:45 looks pretty tricky and a non-betting race for me, though the handicapper has taken a huge risk in dropping Mr Mole 15lb for his last two runs.

Yes, everyone knows how tricky he is and his Aintree return over 2m4f wasn't great, but this is a horse who went off 13-2 for the Champion Chase just six starts ago and hacked up in the Game Spirit here last year. If he runs to within 10lb of that victory, he will win this easily.

Market leader Definitly worth a bet in Rehearsal Chase

Over at Newcastle, I am not going to waste too much time on the six-runner Fighting Fifth at 14:55 - no result would totally shock me, and the betting looks about right - but I am going to surprise you by putting up the favourite Definitly Red in the Rehearsal Chase at 15:30.

I think he could be a bit of a good thing myself and quotes of around 4.57/2 seem very fair.

It helps that the horses that I feared most at the five-day stage, Minella Rocco and Knock House, have not been entered and Definitly Red looks handicapped to win this off 142, 5lb lower than his hurdles mark.

He returned in rude health when winning over 2m4f over hurdles at Carlisle last month, won at Ayr on his final chase start last season, and looks well-treated on his seconds to subsequent Festival novice chase winners Black Hercules and Blaklion at Warwick and Wetherby respectively.

He also finished second to a certain Native River on his only start here, in the French Furze novice hurdle, at this meeting two years ago and this 7yo looks to have it all going for him.

It's not normally the price I like to play at in these handicaps, but then again very few horses have such a convincing profile.

Recommended Bets

Back Mystifiable at 10.09/1 in the 13:30 at Newbury
Back Holly Bush Henry at 19.018/1 in the 14:40 at Newbury
Back Hadrian's Approach at 42.041/1 in the 15:10 at Newbury
Back Smad Place at 14.013/1 in the 15:10 at Newbury
Back Definitly Red at 4.57/2 in the 15:30 at Newcastle

You can read Betfair Ambassador Paul Nicholls Verdict on his Saturday Runners behind the link.

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