The weekend is here but as touched upon at the start of the week I am not overly excited as it’s fairly standard stuff unfortunately. The Grade One Fighting Fifth Hurdle is the main event up at Newcastle but with Epatante odds-on it’s a no bet heat for me. They also race at Newbury, Bangor and Doncaster over obstacles but the G.3 Ladbrokes Trophy Chase is a punting minefield and the two Listed races (one each at Newcastle and Newbury) don’t excite me much either. It’s not all doom and gloom though and I do have two bets on and I am pretty confident on both; one over the Fences and one on the Tapeta.
First up I will be having a bet in the 2m7½f Grade Two Ladbrokes John Francome Novices' Chase at Newbury due off at 12.40. I briefly mentioned Next Destination last month when he made debut for the yard of Paul Nicholls and he begins his Chase career here. Far from disgraced in the bet365 Hurdle at Wetherby on his return to action having been off 920 days hopefully the Grade One winning Hurdler can show his class in this. Nicholls said in one of the may season previews “He was a very good horse for Willie Mullins a couple of years ago but has had a lot of time off. Touch wood he seems to be ok at the moment and hopefully if we can get him to the track, he retains a lot of ability. Will go novice chasing.” So here we are, and if he is to have a crack at one of the big Novice Chases come the Festival, RSA Insurance Novices' (25-1) which seems most likely or the Marsh Novices’ (JLT), he needs to be winning races such as this. I have a bit of the 15-8 about the eight-year-old and my fingers are crossed his jumping will be perfect first time over fences.
Later in the day on the Tapeta up at Wolverhampton John Gosden will saddle Little Kitten for Godolphin in the 1m½f Get Your Ladbrokes Daily Odds Boost Nursery at 5.00 with James Doyle getting the leg-up. Winner on debut at Nottingham she faded on the heavy ground in the Listed Racing TV Stakes at Newbury next time and was then third in a fair Nursey at Kempton earlier this month. The track at Dunstall Park favours those who race handy being fairly tight with a short run-in and the surface makes it difficult to make up ground from the rear. From what we have seen of the filly thus far she wants to lead and I would expect to see Doyle ping her out of stall three and with those inside her with little interest in front-running she can get the perfect run into the first turn. From there Doyle can dictate. By Sea The Stars out of Michita she is a half-sister to five winners who all had a bit of stamina (as you would expect) so hopefully she’ll lead them along before kicking for home turning in and leave this field trailing. My advice is grab the best price you can, Hills were 9-2 at Friday lunchtime.