Sign off with Victory
Man On The Spot previews all the action on the second day of Newbury's Hennessy Gold Cup meeting.
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It is very significant that this juvenile hurdle has been won by a French-bred three-year-old five times in the last six years. Several of these fall into that category with Calipto likely to start favourite on the back of his second in a Listed contest at Auteuil in September. But BARADARI may represent more value as he was a very decent performer up to 1m4f on the Flat and has also joined a top NH yard. Bumper winner Activial and Huntingdon third Andi'amu have scope and Dawalan will have been well schooled. Chocala certainly won't fail through a lack of stamina and will also figure if translating his Flat form to the winter game.
Definite Dream beat Wednesday's Wetherby winner Firth Of The Clyde at Chepstow last month and will be fancied to follow up. But a number of these have the past form to figure including the headstrong Wessex King and Highway Code, though the latter is still awaiting a first victory over fences. Speed Master and Massena are unexposed but WINGS OF SMOKE ran well for a long way on his reappearance at Worcester in September and should strip fitter today. The top weight beat Ballywatt by two lengths in this 12 months ago and is 4lb better off today so can stage an encore.
These qualifiers are rarely short of interest and the big yards are well represented again, no doubt targeting a few of their charges at the final itself next March. Philip Hobbs' Pateese and Arthurian Legend are near the head of the weights but they are headed by Free To Dream, courtesy of the penalty he received for winning at Market Rasen last week. Western Warhorse only found stablemate Home Run too good over a shorter trip at Cheltenham earlier this month and is the pick of the Pipe duo while Seventh Sign and Twelve Roses have place claims. McCoy's mount Minella For Steak is on a hat-trick, as is Invicta Lake, while Fourovakind was a progressive sort last season. Valid Reason came back to form at Sandown last time but the vote goes to CHIBERTA KING. Winner of the Queen Alexandra Stakes at Royal Ascot this year and fourth in the Cesarewitch, he should be suited by this first try over 3m and has already won here over hurdles on soft ground.
WONDERFUL CHARM has taken to fences like a duck to water and is fancied to complete his hat-trick. He was run close by Fox Appeal at Wincanton last time but the runner-up is decent and this course is likely to suit him better. Up To Something was just touched off by Ivor's King at Ascot after winning at Carlisle but will need more here. The Romford Pele will be winning soon, however, judged on placed efforts at Chepstow and Cheltenham while Tanerko Emery will be one to watch once the ground turns heavy. Harry Hunt was engaged to run in a novices' handicap here yesterday and that is more his level.
It may be significant that Daryl Jacob rides CEDRE BLEU in preference to Grandioso, who was a very good novice last season. The former clearly found 3m2f too far at Cheltenham in April but won over this trip at Haydock in March and is only 4lb higher today. Niceonefrankie may be the danger having got back to winning ways at Ascot, though Cantlow was quite highly regarded last season and Ackertac ran well on his reappearance at Sandown. Pauline Robson rarely wastes a trip this far south so Kelso third Upsilion Bleu also warrants a second look with Timmy Murphy partnering the five-year-old in preference to Full Jack. Easter Meteor and Hazy Tom have a bit to prove now, however, along with Quinz and Theatrical Star.
Toubeera was well beaten in a Grade 2 at Cheltenham last time but had won at Huntingdon and Uttoxeter earlier. Irish raider Tropical Three has similar credentials but Carole's Spirit possibly has more scope, though made hard work of beating Fountain's Mary, who has been well beaten since, at Plumpton. Midnight Cataria scraped home at Ludlow on her hurdling debut but FABRIKA may be good enough to make a winning start over timber. She won a bumper here in March and was far from disgraced when fourth in a Listed contest at Cheltenham subsequent when Midnight Cataria was only sixth. Tagrita won a point-to-point by 15 lengths in May and it would be no surprise to see her prominent as well.
A very interesting maiden hurdle featuring several likely to go on to better things. Tiqris possibly has the best hurdles form having only found one too good over a longer trip at Ludlow in January. Backhomeinderry was second at Wincanton earlier this month while Chase The Wind, Vazaro Delafayette and Wilde Blue Yonder arrive on the back of some decent form in bumpers. SIGN OF A VICTORY easily landed a Ludlow bumper just over two weeks ago and can score over hurdles at the first time of asking as both Seedling and Very Noble were a little disappointing last time. The latter's stablemate Fascino Rustico ran in the Champion Bumper in March so is obviously held in some regard and shouldn't be ignored.