Newbury Saturday Preview - 02/03/2019

13:30 - Betameche

The Peter O'Sullevan Charitable Trust H.O.P.E Programme Seniors' Handicap Hurdle raises the curtain on the penultimate Saturday before the Cheltenham Festival, with seven races from Newbury in Berkshire.

Betameche has bounced back off from a lengthy layoff this term - returning to finish down the field on his hurdles debut here at Newbury, before a good second at Wetherby.

He won last time out at Uttoxeter readily holding off his pursuers, seemly now fulfilling the promise he showed back in 2016 for this yard when he won two bumpers - the second of which finishing four lengths clear of Sam Spinner.

Now back fit and firing, and looks to now take things to the next step.

14:05 - The Last Samuri

The Last Samuri will look to justify top weight in Leg Three of the Veterans' Chase Series at Newbury - registered at the William Hill Supporting Greatwood Veterans' Handicap Chase.

One-time runner up in the Grand National has rarely hit the rights since, knocking at the door in several efforts but has not won since prevailing at Doncaster in 2016.

Was a good third to Tiger Roll in last season's Cross Country at Cheltenham before being pulled up in the National itself, and has since moved on from Kim Bailey to Harry Fry.

Surely in with a shout by being maintained in this class, and dropping in distance.

14:40 - Dolos and Happy Diva

The big race of the day is the Grade Three William Hill Supporting Greatwood Gold Cup Handicap Chase, where we have compiled the field down to two selections.

Firstly, Dolos is highly commendable in his own right and has always run with great credit, until appearing to come up short at the top level.

After a series of close efforts in Class Two's, he finally got his head in front at Sandown a month ago today in the same category and had plenty in hand when crossing the line.

Last raced at this level in last season's Grand Annual when finishing a never competitive seventh, but deserves his chance to fire again, whilst Happy Diva - our other selection, is a useful mare who won well in a Listed contest back in January at Huntingdon.

She got the better of Jessica Harrington's Magic Of Light, having finished two lengths down on Aso at Cheltenham on New Years Day when last racing in this company - so on that basis she could be in with a very good chance off two furlongs shorter.

Good course form with a solid second to Ms Parfois thirteen months ago, and looks a valiant contender here.

15:10 - Crooks Peak

Crooks Peak can take the In Memory Of The Late Michael Yeadon Handicap Hurdle over two miles for trainer Philip Hobbs, who in turn is trying to build up some momentum ahead of Cheltenham.

This 6yo has won a Listed Bumper along with two novices hurdles in small fields to date, and he looks manageable on his handicap debut.

Searching for the hat-trick after those wins at Exeter and Kempton, and would not come as a surprise if he did so.

Major player.

15:45 - Laughing Luis

Laughing Luis can laugh down his opposition in the Awdry Bailey & Douglas Supporting Greatwood Novices' Handicap Hurdle, also over two miles.

This 5yo has won two bumpers, before landing his first win over hurdles at Leicester in December over the distance for today.

Proved he was not a stayer at the same venue in January, so a return to this trip surely will bring back his best.

Only ever raced on good ground, so will want the ground to dry up a bit faster.

16:15 - Molineaux

Molineaux can carry the famous colours of John and Heather Snook - known best for owning Thistlecrack, in the BetVictor Novices' Chase over two-and-a-half miles.

A narrow winner over this distance at Wincanton on his last start but one, he was then found out by a smart prospect at Exeter last week; albeit that was more of a stamina test over three.

Still he was far from disgraced and only went down by a length, and will demand a good pace here if hoping to be involved.

That we are sure he will be.

16:50 - Faustinovick

The final race is the ITM Supporting Greatwood Standard Open NH Flat Race, and Faustinovick can wrap things up for us.

This will be the 5yo's first start for Colin Tizzard - having made the move from Ellmarie Holden's yard in Ireland.

On his only start over the Irish sea, Faustinovick actually finished six lengths down on the promising Andy Dufresne, who is certainly a name to bare in mind in the future for Gordon Elliott.

Lots more to offer here, and will look to make a positive impact having been off the track for almost a year now.