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Man On The Spot previews Saturday's terrestrial TV races from Newbury and Warwick.
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Flicka Williams was raised a harsh-looking 8lb for finishing second at Uttoxeter and Pateese has climbed the weights this season, though will be hard to keep out of the frame again with a 7lb claimer on board. Kilmurvy has been threatening to get his head back in front while Virginia Ash ground out a victory at Plumpton last month, though had earlier finished behind Moorlands Mist and Brackloon High over this trip at Chepstow. ANDY KELLY was having just his fourth start over hurdles when only beaten a neck at Ascot. He has the beating of Kilmurvy on that run and can get back to winning ways today. Rydon Pynes is lightly-raced and may be a danger to the selection but Upswing and Scholastica try 3m for the first time.
This is virtually a re-run of a similar Listed event held over 2m3f here last month. Glens Melody made a successful raid over from Ireland on that occasion and the runner-up Mischievous Milly re-opposes on the same terms. But HIDDEN IDENTITY was beaten only a length in third and is 5lb better off today. That gives her a good chance of taking revenge and Tim Vaughan's mare may well come out best in what looks a tight contest. Prima Porta finished a further three lengths back in fourth and has been well beaten since while L'Unique's progressive form of last year came to an abrupt end after landing the Grade 1 Juvenile Hurdle at Aintree in April.
Al Ferof is the form pick on his third in the King George but there must be a big doubt about the grey getting home on this stiffer track on the ground. Walkon is another who may have stamina limitations but Vino Griego beat Harry Topper by 14 lengths at Sandown in December, though the latter stayed on strongly in the Argento Chase at Cheltenham two weeks ago and may be capable of turning the tables if jumping a little better here. KATENKO has been a little disappointing this term but has conditions in his favour today and is given a final chance to prove himself in this grade given he gets weight from all bar one of his rivals.
Tchang Goon has no chance on official figures but will pick up some prize money for just completing. There's a suspicion that Valco De Touzaine is best on a faster surface and the same comment may also apply to Balder Success, although the latter's defeat of Baby Mix over track and trip in November gives him leading claims on the book. Lord Of The House scored in heavy ground at Ludlow last time and had earlier gone close behind Tresor De Bontee. But the latter has been well beaten by BRICK RED at Wincanton subsequently so it's Venetia Williams' charge that rates the selection in a competitive chase.
Paul Nicholls has won this with the likes of Flagship Uberalles, Azertyuiop and Master Minded in the past but Dodging Bullets has a lot to prove before he can be talked of in the same breath. He steps out of novice company in a bid to extend his unbeaten record but MODULE has the stronger form. His stamina appeared to run out when only fourth in the Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon last time but an earlier second to Somersby at Exeter can't be faulted as the top-class Cue Card was a further six lengths away in third. He won't mind the mud and neither will stablemate Majala. Raya Star should also handle the ground, as will Desert Cry. But Donald McCain's charge appears to face a stiff task at the weights, as does Lord Of The House.
This is one of the richest handicap hurdles on the calendar and it's regularly targeted by the big yards with their up-and-coming hurdlers. Five and six-year-olds tend to dominate but we fancy CHELTENIAN to buck the trends this season as the handicapper may have let Philip Hobbs' charge in lightly. He proved his well-being with an effortless victory in a maiden hurdle at Uttoxeter in December and the former Champion Bumper looks well treated on his handicap debut off a mark of 134 given he ran the 145-rated Minella Forfitness to a short-head at Doncaster around this time last year. Rolling Star and Irish Saint finished behind Chris Pea Green in the Ladbroke just before Christmas but the latter has since won easily at Ascot over a longer trip. Dell'Arca was badly impeded and unseated his rider in the Ladbroke but was going well at the time and is interesting here off the same mark while Willie Mullins' Smashing is on a hat-trick. The consistent Deep Trouble should run his race again and Totalize could have each-way claims but previous winner Recession Proof has a lot to prove now and Vendor is 8lb higher than when scoring over 2m3f here in November.