Simon Holt is back with his take on Friday's ITV action at Newbury, where he suspects the Skelton brothers could be in business with a previous course winner.
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There is a theory that horses improve on their second run after a wind operation and, if true in the case of OLD GRANGEWOOD, then Dan Skelton's eight-year-old can capitalise on a low mark when bidding to repeat his 2017 success in the Get Your Ladbrokes £1 Free Bet Today Handicap Chase at Newbury on Friday.
When successful that day, Old Grangewood defied a rating of 145, yet he can run off 136 here and third-placed O O Seven is now set to renew rivalry on 13lb worse terms.
Old Grangewood's mark has declined for a reason as he is winless since, but he ran well to finish third on two occasions over a possibly too-far extended three miles at Aintree last spring and, on his return to the same venue over this trip earlier in the month (post wind-op), shaped well in what may prove a hot race in which Riders Of The Storm outpointed the smart Cepage.
If the selection can improve for that first run back, then he is certainly well enough handicapped to go close under Harry Skelton (stable-mate Spiritofthegames is ridden by Bridget Andrews).
The potential class act in the field has to be Kalashnikov but a big weight here demands plenty and this popular gelding will probably start short enough in the betting.
Another horse who looks potentially well treated is SULLY D'OC AA in the Ladbrokes Novices' Limited Handicap Chase.
The lightly-raced French import, who won three of his four races over hurdles across the Channel in 2017 at around two miles on soft ground, ran much better than his finishing placing suggests at Ascot (2m3f) earlier in the month when he travelled well throughout and turned for home disputing third before weakening (not knocked about) behind Doctor Dex.
Back in distance here and with that run under his belt, the Anthony Honeyball-trained, J P McManus-owned five-year-old could go very well off a rating of 127 which may seriously under-estimate him.
In the closing Ladbrokes Handicap Hurdle over three miles, the progressive SAMBURU SHUJAA could be another winner for the in-form Philip Hobbs team.
Richard Johnson's mount proved highly progressive last season winning twice at Chepstow, firstly slamming the now 131-rated Liosduin Bhearna and on the latter occasion from the super-tough Tobefair (up 20lb since).
On one subsequent outing, he finished behind the latter horse in the Pertemps Network Final at the Cheltenham Festival but wasn't at all disgraced holding every chance approaching the last despite making one or two jumping errors.
One suspects there will be more to come from Samburu Shujaa this season and conditions look ideal for him here.
Hobbs also runs the David Maxwell-ridden Wincanton winner Dolphin Square who makes his handicap debut as does One For The Team who could be handily weighted on novice hurdle defeats by Quoi De Neuf, One For Rosie and Big Shark, the last named successful at Hereford this week.
Posted at 1400 GMT on 28/11/19.