Saturday’s Horse Racing Tips: Tom Collins is splitting his stake in Newbury’s feature

9 February 2024

Wintery conditions have caused several cancellations this week with Doncaster and Thurles succumbing to the weather on Thursday, Bangor called off on Friday, and Uttoxeter and Warwick biting the dust on Saturday.

However, Newbury should get the go-ahead despite a predicted forecast of 3.1mm of rain on Friday and a further 12.6mm during racing on Saturday. Those numbers may change depending on which website you look at! The going is currently listed as ‘soft, good to soft in places’ as I write this on Thursday evening and it’s likely to get pretty testing by the time they start racing.

All four of my selections this week are running at the West Berkshire venue and should handle the deep ground. Let’s start with the Grade 2 Game Spirit Chase (2.40 Newbury), which hasn’t really delivered a good punting heat in recent years - the average field size over the last decade is just four runners per renewal and in six of those contests there has been an odds-on favourite.

This year’s edition is a little more exciting, although there are still only six runners declared. Three of those are out-and-out front-runners in the form of Calico, Editeur Du Gite and Funambule Sivola, who landed this prize in 2022 and 2023. Perhaps the latter-named runner can adopt stalking tactics, but the first two listed only have one way of going and therefore a fast and contentious pace is likely from the outset.

That should set it up for a closer, which brings into play the market leaders: Boothill and Edwardstone. As much as the former has been prolific in his career, I have almost convinced myself that he’s a flat-track, right-handed bully with six of his seven victories coming at Ascot, Kempton and Taunton. Newbury isn’t exactly undulating, but he will have to run the other way round here and that may not see him at his best.

Boothill is also coming off the back of a fall in the Grade 2 Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton. He was keen early in that race and didn’t jump brilliantly before coming down at the fourth-last. He was still travelling well enough at the time, but that incident could have left a scar or two and certainly doesn’t rate as a positive.

With that being said, I much prefer Edwardstone despite the fact that he hasn’t won a race for 14 months. Alan King’s ten-year-old was a fantastic novice in 2021 and won the Tingle Creek in 2022, but he has struggled since Jonbon switched from hurdling to chasing and saw the back-end of that rival on his first two outings this season.

After the second of those defeats, which came in December, King said “Tom Cannon thinks Edwardstone is still as good as ever, we've just got a superstar in front of us. I couldn't be happier with him.” That quote has to be considered a positive given his age and winless drought. I wouldn’t be someone keen to follow a horseman’s word - I’d rather use my own eyes - but that gives me some confidence that he retains his ability.

I was dead against Edwardstone in the Silviniaco Conti Chase last time as I just don’t think he wants two-and-a-half miles, so I love this cutback in trip. The fast gallop will put a little more emphasis on stamina and, although he probably doesn’t need heavy ground, he has won on it in the past.

Let’s move onto the Betfair Hurdle (3.15 Newbury), which has a fantastic punting shape to it. Bookmakers have installed French import Ocastle Des Mottes as favourite, but he’s a shocking price all things considered and has to be opposed. I know he represents Willie Mullins and he could easily be well handicapped, but it’s pretty much a guessing game with a horse coming off a layoff over a shorter trip than he’s used to for different connections and I want no part of the 9/2.

There is much better value elsewhere so I’m going to throw two darts, the first of which at the Harry Fry-trained Altobelli. This big, scopey individual hasn’t had his ground on either start this campaign but has performed notably well in defeat, especially last time out where he finished just behind two nice types in Luccia and Impose Toi. 

I’m convinced he’s well treated off a mark of 132, especially now that he gets mud underfoot, and it looks as though he’s been targeted here for a while. He jumps and travels like a good horse.

That also seems to be the case with Brentford Hope, who is a bigger price than I anticipated at around 14/1. Formerly trained by Richard Hughes on the flat, for whom he placed in Group 2 and Group 3 company, Brentford Hope has won three of his five hurdling starts for sharp trainer Harry Derham and now enters this event off a lenient-looking 134.

He’s had a break since his last outing, so he’ll be freshened up, and now has cheekpieces put back on as connections look to find a catalyst for further improvement. We know he handles this track and trip as he’s a course-and-distance winner, while soft ground has been the key to this horse in the past.

Finally, I’m going to have a bet in the Listed bumper (4.25 Newbury) that ends the card. Nicky Henderson took out Kingston Pride at the declaration stage, who likely would have been the market leader, and that might open the door for the Jimmy Moffatt-trained Union Avenue, who is unbeaten in two starts under rules.

This son of Shantou placed on his two point outings for Colin Bowe, but has come alive since racing in bumpers and has been impressive on each occasion, even if the winning margins don’t suggest that to be the case. He slipped and stumbled on the turn at Kelso first time up - he had a readymade excuse if he was beaten - and still got the job done, before gamely battling off the well-regarded Farland to score at Aintree 46 days ago.

He’s slightly overlooked in the market due to the presence of rivals from big stables and I’m happy to keep with the in-form horse, especially now the ground has come in his favour.

Saturday’s Horse Racing Tips

Edwardstone (2.40 Newbury) @ 13/8
Altobelli (3.15 Newbury) @ 38/5
Brentford Hope (3.15 Newbury) @ 14/1
Union Avenue (4.25 Newbury) @ 26/5

Latest Horse Racing Odds

We use cookies to manage user login sessions, enhance user experience, perform essential site operations and tailor advertising and other content to reflect your specific interests. By clicking "I Accept" you consent to the use of cookies and similar technologies for the purposes we outline in our Cookie Policy.