Newbury Racing Tips: Two to back on the opening day of the Hennessy meeting

Will you follow Tony's tips on day one at Newbury?
Will you follow Tony's tips on day one at Newbury?

The 2015 Hennessy meeting begins at Newbury on Thursday and we've drafted in our big gun Tony Calvin for this big meeting. Here are his thoughts on day one...

"Top Dancer didn't run too badly first time up here last season and it is likely that his trainer will have him plenty fit enough, having presumably targeted him at the race he won two years ago."

Back Top Dancer @ 8.07/1 in the 13:00 at Newbury

Newbury's three-day Hennessy meeting opens up with an impressive card quality-wise on RUK on Thursday - numbers are slightly lacking, but that's to be expected with our current fixture list - so I've been drafted in to point you in the right direction.

Or probably not, as is so often the case.

Anyway, let's crack on in chronological order and the novices' hurdle at 12:30 features a horse that posted one of the most extraordinary winning performances of the 2014-15 National Hunt season. Step forward See The World.

You'll have to watch the race video to fully appreciate what a miracle this horse performed in winning a Wincanton bumper in January. But, in summary, he traded at 1000.0 after virtually pulling himself up 2f out, only for his jockey to galvanise him and to rocket home, from a standing start, to win by four-and-a-half lengths.

And he wasn't beating rubbish, with the placed horses both going on to win their bumpers by wide margins, while the tailed-off fourth hasn't turned out too bad either.

So, in terms of pure bumper ability, he probably isn't that far behind Modus, who was placed in the big National Hunt Flat races at Cheltenham and Punchestown and made a very pleasing debut for Paul Nicholls over hurdles at Taunton earlier in the month.

In receipt of 8lb from Modus and Wetherby winner Charmix, plenty will be willing to side with See The World here, but this is a watch-and-learn race for me.

Nicholls also appears to hold a decent chance in the 13:00 with Wuff, who makes his debut for the stable since switching from Tom George in the summer. If he can coax him back to the form that he showed when second over an extended 2m7f here in March, then he has races in him off his mark of 130, and any further rain won't harm his chances.

But his price will probably more than reflect the high-profile trainer switch angle, and the one that interests me is Top Dancer at 8.07/1 or bigger.

There are a couple of potential negatives, and they are the lack of a recent outing - history suggests he often needs it - and the fact that his 7lb claimer Ben Hicks appears to be having his first ride under NH Rules, having had just one on the Flat in September.

But against those concerns, Top Dancer didn't run too badly first time up here last season and it is likely that his trainer will have him plenty fit enough, having presumably targeted him at the race he won two years ago.

And Warren Greatrex reports that Hicks takes the ride having ridden and schooled the horse in all his homework. And Hicks did finish second at Chester on that ride on the Flat.

He is on a fairly handicapped horse here, just 5lb higher than when winning this race by three lengths in 2013, and first-time cheek pieces are another interesting angle, too.

Unowhatimeanharry is officially 14lb well in the 13:35 racing off the same mark as when making a tremendously impressive debut for Harry Fry in a conditional jockeys' race at Cheltenham 11 days ago.

I'll be surprised if he is beaten, but that is stating the blindingly obvious at the prices and I can happily pass.

The novice chase at 14:10 wouldn't look too far out of place at the Cheltenham Festival, and I imagine all of the septet will have their supporters.

I am a big fan of Twelve Roses, as he looked a seriously good horse when winning at Wetherby in a race that worked out tremendously well. But he disappointed badly at Cheltenham and he may need better ground and a shorter trip, or both, to fulfil his potential.

The more I looked at the race the more I struggled to be perfectly honest - Value At Risk looks a cracking novice chase prospect - so I'm happy to sit this one out.

The 2m6f handicap chase at 14:45 also features another horse having his first start for Nicholls in the shape of Warriors Tale. And there are plenty of other likely types from top yards, too.

But the one I like at the prices is Son Of Suzie at 26.025/1 who should be all the better for his reappearance fourth over 3m2f at Carlisle earlier in the month.

Although he stays that trip well enough, I think he is better at this shorter distance. Indeed, his best effort over fences was a second to dual subsequent scorer Big Water over 2m4f at Carlisle last November.

His jumping is far from perfect - though this is just his fifth chase start - and he isn't the biggest. So at least he has a nice racing weight of 10st 6lb, and I am expecting improvement from him stepped down in trip.

If forced, Song Light would be my selection in a very competitive handicap hurdle at 15:15 but I won't be unloading with any of my cash.

And regular readers will know my thoughts on betting in bumpers, so I'm not getting involved in the 15:50.

However, I'll pass on a couple of snippets. Harry Fry thought his Royalzaro was beaten by a very good horse (and subsequent winner) in Cric Roq at Bangor last month, while Greatrex thinks his £80,000 purchase, winning pointer Fly Du Charmil, will be suited by this galloping track as he is a grinder rather than a quickener.

Good luck.

Recommended Bets

Back Top Dancer @ 8.07/1 in the 13:00 at Newbury
Back Son Of Suzie @ 26.025/1 in the 14:45 at Newbury

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