Newbury Placepot: Saturday December 29

Paul Nicholls could be set for a good day at Newbury

The cards at Doncaster and Newbury are both tricky Placepot prospects, so Keith Melrose is going to the Berkshire track in the hope of landing a slice of the bigger pool.

"There have been tremors in the market this morning for Taquin du Seuil, but we can probably get through the Challow without reaching for him."

12:30 - A novice handicap chase is never an easy starting point, this race being no different. We're going to side with a couple of experienced, solid types with a Venetian connection. First there's Venetian Lad, who has been in good form all season and has held up well on his last two starts. He's run only at Fontwell of late, but that's no real concern, especially at a track as fair as this. Second in is the Venetia Williams-trained Emperor's Choice. He hasn't quite the same experience over fences, but he's been going the right was, has experience in testing conditions and will surely find this course suitable as one who can take some stoking up. 

13:00 - With five still in this juvenile, it can be made fairly straightforward by banking on Pistol. He wasn't the most tractable on the Flat, but took well to hurdling when second over this C&D almost exactly a month ago and, under similar conditions, should again be able to make the first two at least.

13:35 - Bury Parade is surely the best Placepot prospect in this field, such was the manner in which he took to fences when winning at Carlisle on his debut over the larger obstacles. Since then four of those behind him (including Super Duty and Merry King) have won and Bury Parade has himself joined champion trainer Paul Nicholls, so he will surely improve on that sooner rather than later. Despite all that, both Module and Colour Squadron are dangers so we'll take one of them, namely smart hurdler Colour Squadron, as a failsafe.

14:10 - It's not a leg on which we'll open up the pool, but it should at least be a safe conveyance. The Charlie Longsdon-trained pair of Pete The Feat (who's on a five-timer) and C&D winner Rey Nacarado stand out as sound Placepot inclusions and will surely be enough to see us through.

14:45 - There have been tremors in the market this morning for Taquin du Seuil, but we can probably get through the Challow without reaching for him. Clondaw Kaempfer is our main selection, the impression he's left on both wins over hurdles for Donald McCain being overwhelmingly positive, while Ballybough Pat, who has gained handicap experience and still looks on the up, can act as a solid backup.

15:15 - This is a very competitive heat to round off, with impressive Haydock winner last Saturday Bakbenscher taking on a number of improving sorts, chief among them Salubrious and African Gold. We're going to go with that pair of young horses, both having run well in similarly well-contested handicaps here at the Hennessy meeting- African Gold seeing off Faultless Feeling and Salubrious finishing runner-up to subsequent Cheltenham scorer At Fishers Cross. 


12:30 - 4, 9
13:00 - 3
13:35 - 1, 4
14:10 - 4, 8
14:45 - 2, 3
15:15 - 5, 8
= 32 lines

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