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The Duke Weekend’s Preview

It’s Hennessy weekend. Only it isn’t. It’s now the Ladbrokes Winter Carnival.

I’m sure the bookmaker is glad for some positive headlines around racing, after being dragged a little through the mud from the case involving trainer David Evans (if you don’t know, do a bit of googling). Anyway, hopefully we’ll all get a tasty price enhancement this weekend!

Before we crack in to Newbury, let’s take a look at the Grade 1 at Newcastle; the Unibet Fighting Fifth Hurdle.

We don’t need to spend too long gazing over it. Irving has won the race twice before and this has become his cup final. He loves Newcastle and he loves soft ground, so odds-on favourite Buveur D’Air won’t have it all his own way. Nicky Henderson’s magnificent Champion Hurdler has a lot of big race targets to aim at this season and this is his first test of the new campaign. All the team at Seven Barrows will be relishing his return and seeing just what Buveur D’Air can do after his summer break.

Over at Newbury at 2.25pm, there’s a decent Listed race over an extended two miles.

High Bridge was third behind Elgin at Ascot last month and that form has been franked with Elgin scoring again at Cheltenham.

Charli Parcs remains open to improvement and is favourite in some books. He should certainly be respected while there is some value in Amour De Nuit who seems to be on a fair mark.

Mount Mews is the one for me though. I think there is a lot more to come from him this season. He had a very bright novice hurdling campaign last term, winning three races and placing twice, including in a Grade 1. His recent spin at Ayr will have brought his fitness back somewhat, probably after eating to his heart’s content over the summer (I’m the same it must be said, I just carry on eating through winter too). In all seriousness, I really think Mount Mews is one to follow this season.

The big race is at 3pm, the Ladbrokes Trophy Chase. Coneygree tops the weights and it would be a tough enough race if he was at the peak of his abilities, let alone if he’s not.

Whisper was second in the RSA last season but he’s not getting any younger and others make more appeal. Singlefarmpayment probably has more to come over fences, while A Genie In Abottle, Present Man and Cogry are all in good form and taken seriously.

Total Recall looked excellent at Limerick and hailing from the all-conquering Willie Mullins yard, he has a big chance. He travels well in to his races and may need that kind of ability at Newbury.

The one that gets the vote though, is American. Harry Fry’s gelding is three from three over fences and if he can shake the cobwebs away in this, there’s no reason he shouldn’t be in the mix for the win. At long odds, keep an eye on Double Ross, who was third in the race last year and is now 2lbs lower. Best of luck with your punting.

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