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ITV Racing Tips: First Street can show he is no second string at Newbury

| 11.02.2022

The richest handicap hurdle in Britain is the centrepiece of the racing this weekend with a smattering of Cheltenham Festival interest between Newbury and Warwick.

The 15:35 race is the one that will attract the most attention with fourteen runners on the card. However, Newbury’s big day will also feature the last run before Cheltenham of the exciting Bravemansgame in a Novices’ Handicap Chase and two Grade 2 chases, the Denman and the Game Spirit.

Neither are likely to carry the significance of past editions when the races were the springboard to the Festival for the likes of Native River and Altior but the appearance of Clan Des Obeaux, Royalle Pagaille, Sceau Royal and Hitman should provide some competitive action.

At Warwick Edwardstone will try to enhance his Arkle prospects in the Kingmaker Novices’ Chase, one of three races from the Midlands track.

There will be five races from Newbury, with the coverage beginning on ITV from 1pm and we have previewed the three most significant races of the day in our ITV Racing Tips.

14:25 – Denman Chase

The three-time winner of this race, the redoubtable Native River, will be at Newbury, but not to run. Now retired, he will be parading.

But his trainer Colin Tizzard will be trying to keep his success going and has decent claims in Eldorado Allen, at least on talent. Eldorado Allen won the Haldon Gold Cup in November and has been placed in two Grade 2 chases since. But now he is moving up to three miles for the first time.

That is the domain of the likes of Clan Des Obeaux and Royalle Pagaille, but Clan Des Obeaux was turned over in the race last year and Royalle Pagaille is best on testing going, which he is unlikely to get, so Eldorado Allen could be a good alternative, as long as he stays.

15:00 – Game Spirit Novices’ Chase

There are four fairly well matched horses set to line up, including last year’s winner Sceau Royal, but if Paul Nicholls’ horses are over their issues, then Hitman could pack a punch.

Dolos’s victory at Sandown last month was the champion trainer’s first of the month with his normally excellent strike rate having slipped to three per cent. He has been up front about the dip in form, without having established the reason for it.

Hitman has posted two good efforts this season, finishing second in the Haldon Gold Cup and second in the Tingle Creek. Captain Guinness, Nube Negra and Chacun Pour Soi finished behind him at Sandown and, if at his best, a repeat would see him back in the winners’ enclosure.

15:35 – Betfair Hurdle

A smaller than usual field lines up but it looks no easier to solve. On recent trends novices are the horses to follow and there are plenty of qualifiers, among them Jpr One, who heads the market and Knappers Hill.

Nicky Henderson has two of his own and his stable must always be respected having won the race five times. Of his pair, Broomfield Burg, a ten lengths winner at Kempton last time, is the shortest priced but that could be as much to do with the fact he is owned by J P McManus.

For that reason, First Street could be overpriced. He has won three of his four starts over hurdles, coming back after wind surgery to score with plenty in hand at Kempton last month. He is not your usual second string.

ITV Racing Schedule, Saturday, 12th February

13:15 Newbury – 3m novices’ handicap chase

13:35 Warwick – Warwick Mares’ Hurdle

13:50 Newbury – 3m handicap hurdle

14:05 Warwick – Kingmaker Novices’ Chase

14:25 Newbury – Denman Chase

15:00 Newbury – Game Spirit Chase

15:15 Warwick – Warwick Castle Handicap Chase

15:35 Newbury – Betfair Hurdle

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All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.



Jonathan Lees