With such an aray of top class racing coming from Kempton, Leopardstown and Chepstow; Newbury is unfortunately overlooked by many over the festive period. This is an obvious shame as they host the Challow Hurdle, a top quality Grade 1 race with the likes of Denman and Reve De Sivola winning the event in the year’s gone by. Always influential for the Cheltenham novice hurdle races here are my thoughts on the likliest winner!
This year’s contest looks like being run on desperate ground and will suit the future staying chasing types in the field. KAKI DE LA PREE (15/2 BetVictor) fits the bill well having shown that stamina is his forte when comfortably on top at the finish over an extended three miles at Carlisle. That handicap win was impressive as it came off a mark of 127 and twenty lengths separated the runner up and the third. Tom Symond’s exciting six year-old began the season when only going down by a length to Kings Palace who has been mightily impressive twice since. The step down in trip is probably not in Kaki De La Pree's favour but he has already shown his ability to handle plenty of cut and his stamina could prove very useful here.
Timesremembered (3/1 Betfred) is another proven on soft ground, winning a Grade 2 race at Chepstow. He was never quite able to reel in Creepy at Cheltenham last time but has a seven pound pull for just a length beating and the ground may have been a little quicker than ideal for him there. Creepy (11/2 Stan James) has shown improvement on good ground this season and while this trip looks ideal, the ground looks a definite concern.
Oscar Rock (5/2 BetVictor) has shown a liking to ground with plenty of cut and looks more likely to give his running in these conditions.
Nicky Henderson has an interesting hand with Captain Cutter (8/1 Stan James). This horse has a bit to find with a few of these on official ratings over hurdles having won two weak novices at prohibitive odds, but his debut win last December over Kings Palace is very strong form.
Shantou Magic (11/2 BetVictor) is an interesting contender for Charlie Longsdon. Both of his hurdle wins have been on soft ground; firstly at Fontwell when eased down to beat a half decent field with a number of runners rated in the early 120's. He followed that up at Market Rasen with another facile success. The third that day beaten 19 lengths in receipt of 7lbs is now rated 110, both bits of form would give him a massive chance here.
A case can be made for all 6 runners in what looks an ultra competitive renewal. I marginally prefer KAKI DE LA PREE over Timesremembered and Shantou Magic as I believe his proven extra stamina is going to be vital in these conditions. Whatever the result, it's a race to keep in mind for the rest of the season and beyond, as this group of horses are going to be winning an awful lot more races between them.
KAKI DE LA PREE (WIN) (15/2 BetVictor)
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