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Today’s Racing News: The stage is set for a mouth-watering clash at Newbury

We have a cracking day of racing across the country on Wednesday and Daryl Carter is on hand to offer up all of news, stats, and betting angles…

Stacks of racing to get through on Wednesday, and with rain hitting most courses, keep an eye out for those non-runners coming through.

Leopardstown rounds out their excellent Christmas meeting, while there is Grade 1 action from Newbury and top-class racing from Doncaster. Limerick, Southwell and Kelso will support the three central meetings today.

Money Talk

Money Talk continues to highlight the Betfair Sportsbook big-money moves to keep you in the loop. This section highlights market moves between 1:00 am and 9:00 am.

11:55 Doncaster – Sacre Pierre 3/1 into 9/4
13:25 Newbury – The Russian Doyen 11/1 into 8/1
15:35 Newbury – Fern Hill 3/1 into 5/2

The morning market drifters !

Which horse is the Betfair Sportsbook market suggesting to Lay?

13:03 Doncaster – Galah 11/10 OUT 5/4

Mark your card

The Betfair Sportsbook is paying extra places today!

In the 11:55 Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle at Doncaster, three-year-olds Sacre Pierre 4.03/1 and Boulette 5.04/1 both receive 15 pounds of weight-for-age allowance. The former also has a six-pound claimer on, meaning he receives between eight and 29 pounds off his rivals today on handicap debut.

Jockey David Bass goes to Doncaster for just one ride onboard Pipesmoker 6.05/1, who will run in first-time cheek-pieces (well needed) in the 12:28 British EBF ‘National Hunt’ Novices’ Hurdle.

In the 13:03 at Doncaster, Trainer Sam Allwood has a 30% strike rate over hurdles and jockey Charlie Price is three from 14 (21%) at Doncaster. Together they partner Dooby 41.040/1.

Trainer Ben Pauling has a 22% strike rate at Doncaster, and today, he saddles mud lover The Cob 3.55/2 in the 14:13 Handicap Hurdle.

In the 14:00 Handicap Hurdle at Newbury, five-year-olds have won seven of the last eight. Today there are three five-year-olds, Beauport 4.57/2, Pounding Poet 7.513/2 and Monte Cristo 10.09/1.

In the 14:35 Handicap Chase at Newbury, trainer David Dennis has scored with three of his nine runners over fences for a 33% strike rate. He saddles Innisfree Lad 19.018/1. In the same contest, Nestor Park 7.06/1 is looking to go one better than when second in this contest last season.

Leopardstown spectacular goes out with a bang

Over at Leopardstown in the 12:35 Maiden Hurdle, Kilcruit 1.84/5 will look to put his debut hurdle defeat well behind him as he steps up in trip for the first time but takes on a very promising hurdle debutant in Journey With Me 2.35/4. Lay Kilcruit?

The exciting Shewearsitwell 2.47/5 makes her return to action after 451 days off the track for Willie Mullins in the 13:10 Advent Surety Irish EBF Mares Hurdle at Leopardstown. She is currently joint-favourite for the Mares Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, and a win here will see her current 7/1 shorten dramatically.

The 13:45 Neville Hotels Novice Chase at Leopardstown could determine which way connections decide to go with promising second season Novice Run Wild Fred 3.55/2. He is the highest-rated Novice Chaser on record for this time of year and will take on last years Albert Bartlett winner Vanillier 3.55/2 and a whole host of household names in a highly competitive Grade 1.

Read our Irish racing columnist Mark Milligan’s preview of the action in his Wednesday preview.

Sharjah 1.910/11 will look to make history and emulate Hurricane Fly’s record of four wins in the 14:20 Matheson Hurdle by winning this for the fourth straight year. He takes on two horses he convincingly beat in his reappearance in the Morgiana Hurdle in a race to savour.

Horses for courses

This section highlights horses that have won twice or more at today’s tracks and could be in with a chance today.

12:15 Newbury – Grand Luna – Has won here twice (100%)
13:17 Kelso – Cedar Hill – Has won here three times (60%)
13:52 Kelso – Breaking The Ice – Has won here three times (75%)

Weighted to go well

“Weighted to go well” highlights horses running that are more than 10lbs below their last winning handicap mark.

13:17 Kelso – Zolfo – Has won off 126 runs off 113
13:17 Kelso – Monsieur Co – Has won off 118 runs off 103
19:00 Southwell – Steel River – Has won off 76 runs off 66

Form Watch

This section highlights a trainer, owner or jockey who is in excellent current form and their runners or rides for the day.

Trainer Venetia Williams has been operating at a 37% strike rate in the last 14 days. Today she sends Crypto 6.511/2 to Newbury in the 14:35 and Kapga De Lilly 3.55/2 to Doncaster in the 15:20.

Furthest traveller

Nigel Hawke is again today’s furthest traveller. He makes the 243-mile journey to Doncaster with his three-year-old Boulette 5.04/1 at 11:55, who is armed with a 15 pounds weight-for-age allowance. The negative is that the trainer is just one for 30 at Doncaster, but his runner should at least be of interest under today’s conditions.

Paul Nicholls keen as star takes the stage

“He is a lovely prospect who has taken brilliantly to hurdles, is working great at home and has more than earned a shot at the top level.”

Race of the day

There were plenty of races to choose from today for this section but ignoring the 15:05 Challow Hurdle would be criminal given the amount of potential in the race.

Make no mistake about it, while there are some nice horses in this race, it’s hard to believe any of these will be good enough to play a big role in March on what they have achieved to date. However, they are improving Novices, and it makes for a good race with strength in depth. The ground is soft, heavy in places, which could prove beneficial to one horse.

Tony Calvin has a tip for this race in in his Wednesday preview.

SBK5/4

EXC2.38

Trainer: Paul Nicholls
Jockey: Harry Cobden
Age: 5
Weight: 11st 7lbs
OR:

Stage Star has looked very impressive in his two starts to date, and I wouldn’t be the first to mention that he is following the same path as stablemate Bravemansgame. He travelled strongly over course and distance last month, jumped with fluency bar one mistake at the second last flight, and was still able to pick up and win going away in good style.

The level of opposition that has stood in his way has not been up to much, but he has hardly broken a sweat in two hurdle runs and the untapped potential that he showed from a visual standpoint at the end of his race here last month could be considerable.

As we advance, he could be the one with the brightest future in this field, but his price is a little on the short side on balance at 6/4.

He has a couple of questions to answer, one of which is the ground.

He has a beautiful flowing motion to his stride and today’s likely testing conditions mean he faces a new task over hurdles. This is also his toughest test to date, but he remains one to view very positively.

SBK16/5

EXC4.2

Trainer: Tom Lacey
Jockey: Stan Sheppard
Age: 6
Weight: 11st 7lbs
OR:

Lossiemouth will look to follow Poetic Flare and Parlour Games as the third-second season novice to win this in the last ten years, and his experience will hold an edge on his rivals.

He arrives off the back of a clear career-best performance at Sandown when he recorded an excellent time figure compared to the 3m handicap hurdle. He is also officially the top-rated horse in the field and arguably has the strongest form in the book as well as the fastest time figure.

Those looking for a bet towards the top of the market are getting a bit of value about his price of 10/3 at the time of writing, and he is firmly on the upgrade, with the recent rain only enhancing his chances further.

There is a slight niggle, perhaps because he was running in a handicap under a seven-pound claimer off a mark of 123 on his penultimate start, but time will tell, and he looks the bet in the race at the prices.

SBK20/1

EXC27

Trainer: Ian Williams
Jockey: Charlie Todd
Age: 5
Weight: 11st 7lbs
OR:

Party Business impressed me with the way he won his Maiden Hurdle at Ascot last time and the time figure married up well with Jonbon, who ran over 2m (five furlongs shorter).

He looks like another improver in this contest, and there is a form line through Soldier Of Destiny suggesting he could have the beating of today’s Irish runner Gringo D’aubrelle who is much shorter in the market.

The lack of an eighth runner tempers enthusiasm for a bet, but he is no back number, and for those looking for one at a price that stays strongly could find this one appropriate.

Big race verdict

As mentioned above, the lack of three places is frustrating for a good each-way play on Party Business, but I think he has been underestimated and could pick up the pieces if they go hard, so he will get a small saver.

Whether he will be good enough to beat LOSSIEMOUTH is different, and he looks at the horse to side with towards the head of the market at the morning odds. He ticks plenty of boxes, stays further, has run the fastest figures and has the strongest form on offer. The comparison of Stage Star to Bravemansgame has perhaps had a knock-on effect on his price, and it is simply a price point where he falls short, not the lack of considerable potential that he holds. He is not passed over at all lightly, but the value lies with Lossiemouth.

Timeform digging for value at Doncaster

Timeform’s Andrew Asquith highlights a NAP, Next Best and Each-Way selection at Doncaster on Wednesday.

Cheltenham Festival Focus week eight

If you missed this weeks Cheltenham Focus column the 8/1 ante-post price on the bet is still available on the Sportsbook.

Thyme to put it white at Doncaster

Doncaster 13:38 Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase

Thyme White disgraced himself when throwing Harry Cobden off before the first at Ascot last time out when strongly fancied in this column, and he looks worth forgiving that run given he has never shown those signs before.

SBK9/5

EXC2.9

Trainer: Paul Nicholls
Jockey: Bryony Frost
Age: 5
Weight: 11st 8lbs
OR: 134

He finds himself in a much lesser contest today and is worth keeping the faith to build on his promising chase debut at Wincanton last month, for which that form sets a lofty standard in this race.

His power-packed finish at Wincanton off of today’s handicap mark suggested he has plenty more to offer still, and this is only his second (third including Ascot) attempt down into a Class 3 contest.

He is very lightly raced, and there is undoubtedly more to come from him in this sphere.

Final Word

Wow, what a day of special performances yesterday at Leopardstown. Klassical Dream and Galopin Des Champs highlighted just how powerful the Willie Mullins yard is. Both made their reappearances, and both dominated their rivals in decisive fashion.

Of the 16 races priced up for the Cheltenham Festival on the Betfair Sportsbook, 14 of the favourites represent Ireland.

The British are just miles and miles behind bar one or two, which come from one stable (Nicky Henderson).

Leopardstown has made for some seriously good viewing, though. Just look at the Savills Chase yesterday. A high-class field of eight went to post offering each-way punters good value, and it made for a terrific contest with strength in depth despite the reigning Gold Cup hero absent after a visit to England two days earlier.

Then you look at that King George at Kempton, take out the three Irish runners, and we have a field of just seven, and between them, only two had won a Grade 1 in open company within the last two years. It was the same story as the Christmas Hurdle.

Britain has a lot of Grade 2 horses, while Ireland has a lot of Grade 1 horses, and somewhere along the line, something went wrong.

The Kempton Christmas Festival, bar the outstanding performance from Shishkin, was a bit naff in terms of strength in depth compared to Leopardstown’s, and that’s still going on today – In Britain we wouldn’t be able to fill the races.

Nothing is going to change this for a good while, but looking at the Novice Hurdle division can allow us to glance into the future, and while this year looks above average for Britain, it’s going to take a few years of rebuilding across the board.

I am not into this team Ireland team Britain thing, unless the Prestbury Cup offers good odds. I think we all just want to back winners, but it’s worth highlighting for the future.

Until tomorrow, be lucky.

Follow Daryl Carter on Twitter @DarylCarter7

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