Saturday’s Impressive Clarence House Chase winner Defi Du Seuil was cut to 7/4 favourite (from 7/2) with BetVictor for the Champion Chase at Cheltenham in March and Altior will have to be back to his brilliant best if he is to keep his two-mile crown. Altior – who is due to have his prep race in the Game Spirit Chase at Newbury next month – is out to 7/2 with Chacun Pour Soi – likely to run in the Dublin Chase at Leopardstown at the beginning of February – out to 4/1 with BetVictor.
The ground was given as soft (heavy in places) at noon on Sunday for Newcastle’s seven-race jumps card which opens with a Bumper on their all-weather tapeta surface. In the mares’ novices’ hurdle Clondaw Caitlin (2.30) can defy the 6lbs penalty she picked up for winning at Wetherby on Boxing Day when the further she went the better she went.
Ruth Jefferson’s mare had previously won a Bumper at the same track and she is taken to give the weight to Stainsby Girl who improved on her first start over timber when second at Hexham last time. She is entitled to improve again for today’s additional four furlongs and rates a big danger as does the hurdling newcomer Lugg River who showed smart form in her Bumpers. Richard Johnson takes the ride.
Maxed Out King should ensure the 2m Chase is run at a fair clip and that should suit Dunly (3.30) who did us a favour when scoring at Ayr earlier in the month from an 8lb lower mark. That success was gained in first-time blinkers and I hope the headgear works a second time. Title-chasing Brian Hughes keeps the mount.
At Plumpton Sussex National winner Christmas In April (2.40) can land his hat-trick having scored at Fontwell previously. Colin Tizzard’s progressive chaser reverts to novice company this afternoon and a 6lbs rise looks fair given the ease with which he won here earlier in the month.
In the Veterans’ Chase Uhlan Bute has dropped to a mark 4lbs lower than when scoring here 12 months ago but Tzar De L’Elfe (3.40) did us a huge favour when scoring at 16/1 when last seen seven weeks ago and from a 3lbs higher mark he is taken to follow up. The selection has only just turned 10 and he might be able to cope with the forecast heavy ground better than Gary Moore’s Antony who has also dropped to a winning mark. He will be winning on better ground in the spring.
There is a fascinating 3-year-old Conditions event at Kempton and the Charlie Hills-trained colt Fleeting Prince would be giving weight away all-round if this were a handicap. On official figures he looks to have a simple task, but he is likely to be a short-priced favourite and he disappointed on his last couple of starts last turf season. He is bred for a synthetic surface, but I just favour Amarillo Star (2.50) who scored over C&D last month – albeit in a minor event – and is taken to follow up for Charlie Fellowes.
Jomrok is interesting at the foot of the weights for David Loughnane whose string are in such good form. The mare ran a promising race – her first run since August – at Wolverhampton at the beginning of the month and a market move would be worth noting.
Marginal preference, however, is for My Boy Sepoy (3.50) who is edging back up the weights after a series of good runs but goes particularly well here and deserves to get his reward for a series of good efforts. Adam Kirby returns to the plate on Stuart Williams’ five-year-old.
Double Legend (4.20) is down to the same mark as when scoring over C&D in February and he travelled well when fifth returning from a lay-off here at the beginning of the month. Rab Havlin gets on well with Amanda Perrett’s five-year-old and he has a decent draw in stall five.