Jeriko Du Reponet and Marie’s Rock are Henderson’s headline acts ahead of Long Distance Hurdle Day at Newbury
Two spectacular days of racing are on the cards at Newbury on Friday and Saturday as the jumps season gets fully into its swing.
Friday is Long Distance Hurdle day at the track and is the feature race of a packed seven-race card in Berkshire ahead of Saturday’s Gold Cup meeting.
But before that, racing gets underway on Friday at 12.10 with a maiden hurdle and rounds off with a handicap hurdle at 3.35 with all races shown live on Racing TV.
Race one (12.10) sees the very highly-rated Jeriko Du Reponet take to the track for the first time for Lambourn trainer Nicky Henderson, who has hailed the four-year-old as “special” after burning up the Newbury gallops last week. Henderson has introduced some crackers in this race previously, including last year's winner Jet Powered.
Six runners will take to the track for race two of the afternoon (12.40) in the two-mile handicap chase. Djelo looks to be the one to take here for trainer Venetia Williams, winning on chase debut at Aintree 20 days ago. Lallygag is off an enticing mark for Paul Nicholls and rates as the main danger to Djelo.
The third race on the card (1.15) has the Gordon Elliott-trained Woodoh rate as the main play, three for three over hurdles since switching from the flat and will have top jockey Jack Kennedy on board. Max Of Stars for trainer Ollie Pears should pose the biggest threat to Woodoh, having also taken well to hurdles and has won four from six starts.
The midway point of the card arrives at 1.50 with the Grade 2 John Francome Chase. Nicholls-trained Hermes Allen makes his chase debut here having starred over hurdles at Newbury previously in the Challow, so rates as the main play here. Marble Sands cannot be underestimated however, having finished a fine fifth at the Cheltenham Festival in the Ballymore.
A nine-runner handicap chase is up next on the card at 2.25 and looks highly competitive. Frero Banbou shaped very well before finishing third in the Grand Sefton at Aintree and should be well in the mix here, while Iron Bridge was rapidly improving for the very much in-form Jonjo O’Neill yard and could make a winning return here after eight months off.
The feature race of the day arrives at 3.00 with the Long Distance Hurdle and it promises to be a belter. The Henderson-trained Marie’s Rock looks the one to beat, a dual Grade 1 winner who landed the Relkeel at Cheltenham before flopping at the Festival, but bounced back last time out at Aintree. Dashel Drasher will have a say in things having finished second in the Relkeel behind Marie’s Rock and also runner-up places in the Cleeve and Stayers Hurdles. The legendary and likeable Paisley Park can’t be ruled out either but does have to saddle a 6lb penalty in this one.
The card is rounded off at 3.35 with the handicap hurdle where Ed Keeper is taken to carry on his solid start to life on the racetrack, having yet to finish outside of the places - including one victory - in four starts.
Newbury selections - Friday (via Betway)
12.10 - Jeriko Du Reponet
12.40 - Djelo
1.15 - Woodoh
1.50 - Hermes Allen
2.25 - Iron Bridge
3.00 - Marie’s Rock
3.35 - Ed Keeper