Bryony Frost will miss the Grand National meeting at Aintree in two weeks’ time after she confirmed on Thursday that she had broken her collarbone in a fall sustained at Southwell on Monday.
There is little rain forecast for the next fortnight on Merseyside and the entries were announced earlier in the week for both the Foxhunters’ Chase and Topham Trophy over the National fences. My initial thoughts are that Theatre Territory (14/1 for the Topham at BetVictor) can improve on last years third from a 2lbs higher mark, but I am not convinced she will get a run such is the quality of the field.
In the Foxhunters’ Road To Rome (6/1 at BetVictor) would be a confident choice were it not for jumping out to his right throughout the Cheltenham equivalent last week when he finished fourth behind impressive winner Hazel Hill who misses the race.
There is an eight-race card at Newbury today and the ground – drying out all the time – was described as good to soft (good in places) on Thursday morning. There are four previous winners in the opening Novices’ Hurdle, but I hope Alan King’s Smith’s Bay (1.45) is more amenable to restraint than was the case at Warwick on his hurdles debut.
That run was his first start for 12 months and he was too keen to get home, but he showed plenty of ability and gets the ew vote with, hopefully, the fizz taken out of him. He is one to keep on side going forward whatever today’s outcome, although I have slight reservations that this 2m 5f trip will tax his stamina.
I hope it is a good day for King as Voie Dans Voie (2.20) – in the same ownership as Smith’s Bay – is taken to go one better than when runner up to Orchardstown Cross at Taunton last time. The winner has since scored easily over today’s C&D and is now rated 19lbs higher than when beating the selection last month. One note of caution. That improved Taunton run was gained from the front, but he certainly won’t get a soft lead with the front-running grey Valadom in the field.
Hurricane Dylan is progressing nicely over fences and the form of his recent third at Taunton has been franked by runner up Whoshotwho who was an unlucky loser at Haydock earlier in the week. Red Rising has disappointed so far this season over fences but looks well treated for his inform (Dan Skelton) yard.
I might be tilting at windmills, but the vote goes to Queens Present (4.00) despite the fact that she is returning from a 700-day lay-off. The selection has gone well fresh in the past, will love the drying ground, is a winning pointer and can reward each way support even though she is 2lb out of the handicap.
Dan Skelton saddles two in the 2m Handicap Hurdle and preference for Nube Negra (4.30) over Late Night Lily is marginal with the selection having to give 12lbs to the mare. The selection had not been asked a serious question when brought down two out at Taunton last time by the ill-fated Misterton. He can be a bit keen in his races and an end-to-end gallop would suit.
Azets (2.10 Lingfield) is bred to be smart and, although there isn’t much of him, he showed improved form when a staying on third at Kempton over 7f on his all-weather debut. Jason Watson takes over in the saddle this afternoon, the step up to a mile should suit and he is well drawn in stall two. An opening mark of 69 looks workable.
In the finale and Twist (4.55) makes his handicap debut back to the trip of his C&D success back in December. Nicky Henderson’s lightly-raced 4-y-o pulled hard and failed to get home in a better race at Kempton last time and is another who may be well treated on his handicap bow. Adam Kirby keeps the ride.
At Newcastle Coastline (6.30) can make it third time lucky for James Tate having finished runner up in both her starts over 6f as a juvenile. She will appreciate a mile in time but this stiff 7f trip should suit.