Adam Baylis tasted victory at Sandown last week - albeit at short odds - but he has a double digit fancy for the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury on Saturday...
"He won on his seasonal re-appearance at Chepstow with something up his sleeve despite some sketchy jumping. He then had a fair few of Saturday’s opponents in behind when finishing runner-up to the highly promising Hunters Call at Ascot."
Jonjo O'Neill took the three mile Handicap Hurdle at 13:50 with Upswing in 2014 and his Noble Robin - two from two over hurdles this season - looks to hold every chance of securing another victory for the trainer. The seven-year-old made light work of the opposition at Wetherby last time, winning by seven lengths. That came in tougher conditions than he'll experience on Saturday but the step up in trip seems sure to suit.
Former Challow winner, Barters Hill holds obvious claims on his 12 length beating of Politologue but he comes into this off a 15 month absence and his fitness has to be taken on trust. At the age of eight, he's still well capable of retaining a good deal of his former ability and a mark of 142 is very much on the lenient side but at this stage I'd rather side with Noble Robin at around 5/1.
Native River aims to win back-to-back renewals of the Betfair Denman Chase at 14:25 but given his poor record fresh and question marks around his fitness & suitability of this trip, he must be opposed. The Colin Tizzard inmate has to give weight away to two smart horses in Cloudy Dream and Fountains Windfall and I'd prefer the chances of the former at 11/4.
Much has been made of his tendency to not see out his races but he's won seven of his 17 starts and never finished out of the front three, finishing in behind the likes of Altior and Smad Place. Quite simply, he may have just been beaten by a handful of very good horses. Saturday's conditions will suit much better than the heavy ground he faced at Aintree last time and I hope he can deliver on what will be an emotional day for Ruth Jefferson.
Had the heavens opened this week, I'd be keen on Politologue's chances of pulling off a memorable victory over Altior in the Betfair Exchange Chase at 15:00. However with the weather set fair it's hard to see the Seven Barrows superstar being beaten, for all that he arrives here off a sizeable break.
Jenkins aims to bring up a hat-trick of handicap victories in the Betfair Hurdle at 15:35, but for all that he's finally fulfilling his initial promise, this year's renewal of the race looks ultra-competitive. James Bowen has been instrumental in turning round the six-year-old's fortunes but even with his 3lb claim, he has a lot of weight to lump in this field and 8/1 is skinny enough.
We end the 32Red Christmas Festival at @kemptonparkrace with a winning #PunditsPick and more money for @GreatwoodHorses from @BetVictor as Kayf Grace scores under @NdeBoinville pic.twitter.com/GxeNp2uIEp— Racing UK (@Racing_UK) December 27, 2017
Nicky Henderson has a further four entries alongside Jenkins and I'd rank Kayf Grace as his best chance. A Grade 2 winning bumper performer, she got back on track at Kempton last time after a disappointing run at Ascot in November. A mark of 140 looks to underestimate her and she can go well at 10/1. At the same price, Irish Roe must be included on the shortlist, she ran Maria's Benefit close in a Grade 2 at Doncaster last month and if this race doesn't come too soon for her, is incredibly well in off of 134.
To be honest, I could make a case for most in the field but one that has really caught the eye now the rain has stayed away is Evan Williams' Silver Streak at 12/1. He won on his seasonal re-appearance at Chepstow with something up his sleeve despite some sketchy jumping. He then had a fair few of Saturday's opponents in behind when finishing runner-up to the highly promising Hunters Call at Ascot. The handicapper has only raised him 3lb for that performance and the excellent Mitchell Bastayan's 5lb claim will again only serve to enhance his chances here.
2017/18 P&L: +15.65pts
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