Free betting tips for the Greatwood Gold Cup at Newbury, a Grade 3 Handicap Chase on Saturday 1st March
With the Cheltenham Festival just over a week away, understandably the quality of racing on show dips slightly. This year’s renewal of the Greatwood Gold Cup at Newbury has attracted a depleted field of 7 runners, who, in the main, will be looking to bounce back to form and salvage somthing from their so far disappointing seasons. Only two of the runners entered have won this season and many have found their handicap marks falling as a result of their poor form. Sure to be a tricky race to decipher, here are my thoughts and my tip for victory.
Paul Nicholls has a fantastic record in this race (since 2006 he has only failed to win this contest twice), and he picked up the prize last year with Pacha Du Polder. That horse was piloted by Ryan Mahon and this year he takes the ride on the top weight Rebel Rebellion (5/1 William Hill), another Paul Nicholls inmate. Rebel Rebellion has had four starts this season all in class two handicap contests and managed to pick up a victory on his penultimate start at Aintree. He finds himself on a career high mark, 7lbs higher than his last winning mark, but seems to run far better over 2m4f and should give a good account of himself. A winner on soft and heavy ground, the conditions shouldn’t pose too many problems and he has the routine benefit of a tongue tie but with the addition of the blinkers for the first time.
Paul Nicholls has also entered Ulck Du Lin (9/2 BetVictor), the mount of Noel Fehily. As the only horse in the field with a victory at Newbury, this horse should appreciate a return to the track where he produced the best performance of his career to date. He has so far performed well below par on four starts this season and as such finds himself off a mark of 133, 3lbs lower than his last victory at Ascot in 2012. His best form has come over an extended 2m and his latest start saw him tackle 2m5f at Cheltenham where he finished some 41 lengths behind the winner. He may well have been inconvenienced by the unique demands of Cheltenham and could well thrive now back on to a flat track such as Newbury. However, with no guarantees over his stamina the testing conditions may well prove too much and he could struggle to reel in the leaders if they go a good gallop.
A line through Ulck Du Lin’s Cheltenham form gives a good account to SHANGANI (7/2 William Hill). This Venetia Williams trained horse also contested the Trophy Chase and despite only finishing fifth, he did manage to finish 20 lengths ahead of Ulck Du Lin. He finds himself 2lbs worse off with the Paul Nicholls’ runner but looks to be a more interesting proposition. On his latest start he finished 3 lengths behind the useful mare Une Artiste who was receiving 18lbs from her challenger. There are some jumping frailties with this horse and that was certainly clear at Kempton, however the return to a flat track where the emphasis is less on speed and more on stamina should prove ideal. This horse does give away ground over his fences but finds plenty for pressure and rallies well. If his trainer has managed to improve his jumping then this test should suit and, when you consider the current form of the stable, he should run well.
Majala (5/1 Stan James) was impressive last season as a novice over 2m and after a trio of victories he was allotted a mark of 152. Since then his form has seedily declined and he has been dropped 10lbs by the handicapper. His latest start came of 2m5f at Warwick on heavy ground where he weakened two out and didn't seem to thrive when upped in trip. His best form has come on heavy ground so conditions shouldn't pose a problem but there are question marks about his current form.
The only horse in the field who has claimed a victory on his latest start is Dashing George (7/1 Stan James), who won a low grade race by 11 lengths at Fakenham. The winning distance is slightly flattering as both the race favourites made costly jumping errors and the 12/1 winner was able to capitalise. The form itself looks nothing special and this horse is inclined to make jumping mistakes himself so is difficult to trust implicitly.
The race favourite beaten by Dashing George was Elenika (5/1 BetVictor) who reposes today off bottom weight. Racing off 10/3 this Venetia Williams trained runner finds himself 13lbs better off with Dashing George. Despite this, there are concerns over his jumping and others are preferred.
The field is completed by Tara Rose (7/1 William Hill) who looks to still be on a stiff handicap mark and should find others in the field far too good for her.
In what looks to be a vary tricky race to get a handle on, I find myself drawn to SHANGANI. Prominent in the betting on his penultimate start in a competitive Grade 3 handicap and Cheltenham, his rivals today shouldn’t pose such a tough assignment and he looks to have a good a chance as any. The stable of Venetia Williams is still in fantastic form and as 8 year-old do particularly well Im hoping that this horse can claim yet another big Saturday prize for his trainer. Dangers are all around and the recent race record of Paul Nicholls has to be respected. His pair look to be the biggest threat with Rebel Rebellion just preferred of the duo.
SHANGANI (WIN) (7/2 William Hill)
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