Ben Linfoot guides you around Friday's racing with Kalashnikov the star attraction, while there are a couple of interesting hurdlers out at Hexham.
1. Arkle favourite runs at Warwick
The big guns are starting to reappear over jumps, as is evidenced by the declaration of Kalashnikov (boom, boom!) in the £50 Risk Free On Racing with Smarkets Novices’ Chase at Warwick on Friday.
Amy Murphy’s weapon has only been beaten by one horse in his entire life, Summerville Boy, a rival that beat him in both the Tolworth Hurdle and Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle last season.
Kalashnikov has won every other race he’s contested, including his seasonal reappearances the last two campaigns, his Betfair Hurdle victory at Newbury the highlight so far.
So it is with great excitement that this five-year-old makes his debut over fences on Friday, on what in all probability will be the liveliest ground he’s ever run on.
Warwick applied 5mm of water on Thursday, but it’s likely to be ‘Good’ ground and this will ask a new question of Kalashnikov, if he takes his chance, even if he does have around 20lb in hand of his three rivals on hurdling form.
Hopefully we’ll see him, as he’s very much the star attraction on Friday – a point underlined by his position as favourite in the ante-post Arkle Trophy market, where his price ranges from 9/2 to 7/1.
2. We’re gonna rock down to… Electric Avenue
“Probably the best novice in the yard," Brian Ellison said about Windsor Avenue in his Stable Tour. "He jumps for fun and I’m very excited by him."
Owned by Phil & Julie Martin, whose red and green colours are also carried by stable star Definitly Red, Windsor Avenue was beaten on his hurdling debut at Carlisle on October 18, but he did little wrong.
He just bumped into another good one in Al Dancer from Nigel Twiston-Davies’, but he travelled well and pulled clear of the rest, hinting that his first win over hurdles wouldn't be far away.
That standard is head and shoulders above the rest in the Alan Young Memorial Maiden Hurdle at Hexham (1.05) on Friday and, while he won’t be much of a price, he’s well worth watching ahead of likely much stiffer tasks in the future.
3. Mistiroc makes hurdling debut
If you like your highly-rated Flat horses trying their luck over timber then head to the racecard for the Weatherbys Racing Bank Novices Hurdle at Hexham (1.40) where Mistiroc makes his hurdling debut.
John Quinn’s seven-year-old has won five races on the Flat and was rated 99 at one stage, recently, although he has struggled to win since landing a race at Ascot's Shergar Cup off a rating of 91 in 2016.
Still, a 90-plus rated horse switching codes is always a source of interest, although, a word of warning, he has been running flat on the Flat since returning from an absence in August.
4. Grandee worth a look on Newcastle Tapeta
And finally… an actual tip as I really like the look of Grandee at what should be a decent price in the sunracing.co.uk Handicap at Newcastle (5.15).
David O’Meara’s four-year-old was rated 100 when he arrived at the yard at the start of the year but he’s dropped 17lb after a string of 11 defeats for his new trainer.
Connections have experimented with him trip-wise as he ran in the Chester Cup in May, has run six times over a mile-and-a-half and is now plying his trade over a mile on the all-weather.
Three runs over that trip at Kempton have yielded nothing better than a sixth-place finish, but he’s shown promise coming from off the pace on each occasion.
Coming from the rear around the bend at the Sunbury track doesn’t seem to quite suit him, but the straight mile at Newcastle is as fair a test as you can get and it could bring out the best in him.
His sire, Lope De Vega, has a tremendous record at Newcastle, with his progeny having won 13 from 40 on the Tapeta surface at a more-than healthy 32.5 per cent.
When you drill down further into that data Lope De Vega progeny have particularly excelled in mile handicaps at the track, winning five from 11 at 45.45 per cent.
This is his first go at Newcastle and his first go on a Tapeta surface, too, but it’s with hope it can reignite a spark in him, one that has been flickering on recent starts at Kempton.
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