ITV Racing Saturday Newbury And Ayr Preview

James Mackie | @JMackieRacing

Ayr - April 01 2022
Ayr 12:15
Nathan Moscrop


J: Nathan Moscrop
T: Rebecca Menzies
Age: 8
Weight: 11-2
OR: 135
Days: 112

The first selection of the afternoon from Ayr is the Listed Handicap Chase over 2m 1/2f and the horse we think is the value in the field is the Rebecca Menzies trained Sao.

At an each way price the eight year old looks weighted to go well in this event, having been largely consistent in the last 18 months of his career.

Winning back to back races at the end of 2020 off marks of 120 and 125, he then had a run in a jumpers bumper before getting back to winning ways at Wetherby.

Tried in a big fielded Grade Three Handicap at the Grand National meeting off a career high of 138 he just wasn't good enough, with the winner now being a 150s horse.

Seen three more times since then the gelding has come slightly down the handicap after two good seconds at Perth and Aintree and last time out at Doncaster he was fourth of six, but less than four lengths behind the winner.

Now off a mark of 134, which sees him only 1lb higher than his last winning mark, this event produces itself as a race to get back to winning ways in.

Newbury - April 01 2022
Newbury 12:35


T: Fergal O'Brien
Age: 5
Weight: 10-10
OR: 114
Days: 28

The first event of the afternoon on ITV from Newbury is the 2m3f Handicap Hurdle and Punctuation for Fergal O'Brien is weighted to go close.

A decent horse on the flat for trainer Andrew Balding and The Queen, he was sold and sent over hurdles this term, where he tool some time to get the hang of things.

The penny finally dropped two starts ago at Warwick when winning a 12 runner Novices' Handicap Hurdle, seeing off Sainte Doctor who has since gone onto win.

Punctuation also franked the form last time out when beating a nice type for Paul Nicholls in Irish Hill over two miles at Newbury, giving weight away.

Up 8lb for that run he still looks to be progressing and should still be better than his mark of 114.

Getting a stone off his closest rivals.

Ayr - April 01 2022
Ayr 12:50
Nico de Boinville


J: Nico de Boinville
T: Nicky Henderson
Age: 7
Weight: 11-12
OR: 147
Days: 17

Another nice race on the Ayr card on Saturday is the Novices' Champion Handicap Chase over three miles and we feel as though the favourite Dusart will have too much class for the field.

The seven year old is very lightly raced for his age only being seen five times throughout his career due to a setback last term, but that plays to his strengths in this race.

An extremely smart hurdler over two miles, he beat Betfair Hurdle winner Soaring Glory easily before getting that setback and he then returned at the Grand National meeting last year when a good third after a break in the Grade One Top Novices' Hurdle behind Belfast Banter, who won at the Cheltenham festival that year.

Sent chasing this term over staying trips, he was a five lengths winner on seasonal debut, jumping slightly out to his left, but having plenty of stamina to get the job done.

He made it back to back wins over three miles at Exeter under a penalty next time out, winning by a further 11 lengths.

With three miles looking his trip he was sent to the Cheltenham festival last time out and finished a fair fifth of nine in the Grade One Brown Advisory Novices' Chase in attritional conditions.

Although top weight for this event, if none the worse for that run he looks a class above this field and should get the job done.

Needs to jump better though.

Newbury - April 01 2022
Newbury 13:10
Ned Fox

First Figaro

J: Ned Fox
T: Venetia Williams
Age: 12
Weight: 10-2
OR: 109
Days: 22

The Veteran's Handicap Chase at Newbury sees some familiar faces head to post and we are siding with the Venetia Williams hat-trick seeking First Figaro.

A very consistent horse in his old age the 12 year old has now placed in all five of his last runs, including in his last two races where he has gone on to win.

Having his first run for a year at the start of March he was an impressive winner of a similar event over three miles and then a week later backed that up at Leicester when coming on for the run to score by 14 lengths.

Even at the grand old age of 12 he still seems to have bags of enthusiasm for the game and should go close once more off 9lb higher on his hat-trick bid.

Ayr - April 01 2022
Ayr 13:25
Harry Skelton

West Cork

J: Harry Skelton
T: Dan Skelton
Age: 8
Weight: 11-2
OR: 142
Days: 15

One of the feature events of the afternoon in Scotland on Saturday is the Grade Two Scottish Champion Hurdle and West Cork for the Skelton's looks a class above this field.

The eight year old has always been a top hurdler for the yard and this season came back from a setback with a bang landing the Grade Three Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham after over 18 months off the track.

He made a mockery of his mark of 134 and after the win it looked obvious if fully fit, being a top novice hurdler winning good events at Huntingdon twice.

The form of that Greatwood is unbelievable with the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth and 14th since going to either win or run credibly in better races.

Moved up to a mark of 141 after his win in the Greatwood, he was a fair fifth in a Grade Three Handicap Hurdle at Ascot behind Tritonic.

Since then he was saved for the County Hurdle at the Cheltenham festival with the yard having a good record in it and West Cork was a superb fourth of 26, not far behind the likes of State Man, First Street and Colonel Mustard.

That looks some of the stand out form heading into this race only being penalised 1lb to a mark of 142 and getting 8lb off the second favourite looks huge.

Newbury - April 01 2022
Newbury 13:45

Speech Bubble

T: Noel Williams
Age: 7
Weight: 11-10
OR: 130
Days: 44

The last event on ITV from Newbury on Saturday and is their feature race the Grade Two Novices' Mares' Hurdle over 2m 4 1/2f.

The horse we think has a big chance and is the Noel Williams trained Speech Bubble who holds some leading form.

Being a fair bumper horse last term, racing three times and winning on her debut at Ffos Las, she was then sixth of 13 in a strong event and improved from that when last seen on the level to finish behind the Kim Bailey trained Flirtatious Girl for the second time.

Sent over hurdles in November this season for her debut, she was a good second behind a nice type for Jonathan Portman and then up further in trip over this races' course and distance next time out she got off the mark in the qualifier for this event.

The seven year old was last seen finishing a very good second behind the Grade Two Mares' Novices' Hurdle winner at the Cheltenham festival Love Envoi.

Saved for this event since February, she holds a leading chance under Gavin Sheehan.

Ayr - April 01 2022
Ayr 14:00
Brian Hughes

Minella Drama

J: Brian Hughes
T: Donald McCain
Age: 7
Weight: 11-5
OR: 146
Days: 35

The Grade Two Jordan Electrics Ltd Future Champion Novices' Chase is another cracking event at Ayr this weekend and Minella Drama for Donald McCain takes the eye.

The Donald McCain trained seven year old was a very smart P2P horse finishing second on both his outings behind two smart types in Sir Gerhard and Erne River.

Bought for £60,000 by Green Day Racing, he was a smart hurdler last year, racing six times and never coming outside the top two in any of his races, winning on three occasions.

Having finished a narrow second in the Grade Two Supreme Trial at Haydock, he then won nicely in a Listed event at Market Rasen before finishing his hurdles career at Aintree's Grand National meeting when second to the smart My Drogo in the Grade One Mersey Novices' Hurdle.

Sent over fences this term the gelding got off the mark on his first try at Uttoxeter and then backed that up at Carlisle when a short head second to the smart War Lord for the Tizzard's.

Looking for Grade One glory next time out at Sandown he was well beaten in the Henry VIII Novices' Chase, with the race not going to plan.

Always looking like he needed a step up in trip he went to Haydock over 2m4f in a good Grade Two event and got back to winning ways in emphatic style.

Last time out he faded badly in the Grade Two Pendil Novices' Chase at Kempton, but we are hoping he puts that run behind him having been well backed that day and getting back to his previous form makes him hard to beat.

Ayr - April 01 2022
Ayr 14:35
Mr R James

Win My Wings

J: Mr R James
T: Christian Williams
Age: 9
Weight: 11-5
OR: 140
Days: 35

The big contest of the season at Ayr is the Grade Three Scottish Grand National and with 24 runners heading to post we have picked out two selections at each way prices.

The first is the Christian Williams trained Win My Wings with the mare proving she is a thorough stayer last time out and looking to have more in the tank that day makes her interesting off only 8lb higher.

Twice a winner at the back end of last term at Cheltenham in April in a 3m2f Handicap Chase and then at Compeigne over in France when going back over hurdles.

Needing her first two runs this term, she got back to form in a big way at Exeter in January when winning a decent three mile Handicap Chase.

Having looked like she always needed a trip, she was sent over a similar distance to the Scottish Grand National in the Eider Handicap Chase at Newcastle and ran out a very easy winner.

It is surprising to us she is not the clear favourite for this event and with a handy 7lb claimer in the saddle she is effectively only 1lb higher than her latest win.

Big player.

Ayr - April 01 2022
Ayr 14:35
A P Heskin

The Wolf

J: A P Heskin
T: Olly Murphy
Age: 8
Weight: 11-4
OR: 139
Days: 56

At a slightly bigger price is the McNeill family owned The Wolf, who is another runner that has been crying out for a trip and since getting a go at one has looked a different horse.

The gelding has been a horse that has always flattered to deceive until this term, where on his last two runs he has shown the best form of his career.

On New Year's Day at Cheltenham he ran out a very good second behind a nice type in Full Back for Gary Moore over 3m2f in a good handicap event.

Upped again in trip to the Scottish National distance he kept on staying on to grab a close second again behind a very lowly weighted rival in Captain Cattistock.

Trying that trip for the first time bought out big improvement and only going up 2lb for that run makes him a huge each way player if getting a clear run.