Newbury winter showpiece looks wide open

A glance at the past winners of an event usually gives you a great idea of its relative quality. Buckle up and consider with interest some of these bad boys.

Mill House. Arkle. Burrough Hill Lad. Denman. Bobs Worth. Native River. I could go on. And on ..

Formerly for many years known as the Hennessy, it’s a handicap staying chase that attracts Gold Cup-class animals trying to give the weight, durable types in general, and some hugely promising youngsters looking to begin what they hope will be stellar careers.

As I write it’s around 13/2 the field, which is exactly how it should be. The trip on winter ground is a test – pretty much mirroring the Cheltenham Gold Cup at 3m 2f. It’s invariably a fantastic spectacle, setting us up form-wise for races like the King George, and all those mouth-watering spring contests in the UK and Ireland.

Bet on Horse Racing with Betfred here

Trainers to note? Paul Nicholls won it a couple of times as a jock, and achieved similar as a trainer. He’s represented by Threeunderthrufive, who had a pipe-opener over hurdles at Wetherby. I’m always encouraged by this tactic as his chase handicap mark isn’t being risked, and last season’s very promising novice is evidently well regarded.

Still carries 11st 5lb though – a testament to that obvious ability. David Pipe saddles Gericault Roque, a French-bred 6-yr-old who ran well in the Ultima at the last Cheltenham Festival. Another who prepped for this over hurdles, and carries a lovely weight of just 10st 7lb.

That legendary Pipe name is also behind the challenge of Remastered, who fell 4 out in this last term when holding every chance. Another running a cracker in the Ultima leads us to the Tizzard’s Oscar Elite, just 10st 7lb once again on his back, and Harry Cobden no less in the plate.

Busselton for me is a notable Irish raider. Trained by the great Joseph O’Brien, and a 5-yr-old son of Mastercraftsman. Took the Kerry National and a huge pot in September , and is feared here. It’s a brilliant renewal for me, all the more so given the number who’ll really fancy their chances.

I’m going for Oscar Elite at around 8/1, each-way. Great racing weight, superb training operation regarding staying chasers, and a top jock booked.

Selection – Coral Gold Cup handicap – Oscar Elite, e/w

Enjoy what’s always a wonderful spectacle.

Alan Firkins

Horse Racing Odds