Jumps season returns to Newbury with bumper eight-race card as Henderson’s highly-rated new acquisition makes seasonal reappearance
The colder, wetter and worse weather has arrived in the UK and that usually signifies the early stages of the jumps season - none more so than at Newbury where the first fixture over obstacles this season gets underway on Thursday.
An eight-race card will greet punters to the track after a brief recess following the end of the Flat season, which was also marred by some bad weather as Storm Babet wreaked havoc.
As things stand, everything is all set to go at Newbury tomorrow (Thursday), with racing getting underway at 12.05 and rounding off at 4.10 with all races shown live on Racing TV.
Up first is an 11-runner handicap hurdle over the two miles and the Anthony Honeyball-trained Brookie, who made a winning start for the trainer at Fontwell five weeks ago, saw off a rival who has since gone on to score and can defy a 6lb penalty here to take the win. The chief threat could come from last season’s runner up in this race Grievetana, with Paul Nicholls sending the five-year-old for another crack.
Race two at 12.40 looks pretty wide open apart from one runner, Wilmount, for Lambourn powerhouse trainer Nicky Henderson. The five-year-old has won on both starts in his career, both at Doncaster, and will have premier jockey Nico de Boinville on board and it would be a huge shock if he doesn’t pick up a comfortable win here.
The third race on the card (1.15) looks a much more competitive affair in the handicap chase over 2m7f. The Nicholls-trained Knowsley Road had an excellent 2022/23 campaign with three wins but was below-par on his last two runs of last season so is of interest on return on Thursday. Scrum Diddly arrives in good form with two wins back in May and a strong second at Cartmel off a career-high mark on his last run.
Race four (1.50) is a mares’ novices hurdle and another runner from Henderson’s yard, Break My Soul, should go off a heavy favourite. After landing an Irish point-to-point, the four-year-old was snapped up for £290,000 and with Henderson having won this race in 2018 and 2020, the stats all point to a Rules-winning debut for the new recruit.
The midway point of the meeting (2.25) has yet another Henderson runner at the top of the market, though Bold Endeavour will be under top weight in the 3m handicap hurdle and that could scupper his chances, The Alan King-trained Emitom is a grade two winning hurdler and scored over course and distance in March so should be a major player once again, as will Equin is for Nigel Twiston-Davies, a winner of two straight starts and unexposed at this trip.
Race six on the card arrives at 3.00 and Northern Bound heads south after travelling in the right direction when third at Wetherby last time out and also won this race last year off a 9lb higher mark. The main challenge will likely come from Kandoo Kid, who should improve from his season debut at Warwick.
The card is rounded off with two bumpers, the first at 3.35 and the second at 4.10. In the earlier bumper, Gentleman’s Relish should relish the step down in class having disappointed in a grade two bumper last time around, while in the final race of the day, a £450,000 purchase for the Nicholls yard in Histrionic makes his rules debut and is of major interest.
Newbury selections - Thursday
12.05 - Brookie
12.40 - Wilmount
1.15 - Scrum Diddly
1.50 - Break My Soul
2.25 - Equinus
3.00 - Northern Bound
3.35 - Gentleman’s Relish
4.10 - Histrionic