The first running of Newbury’s most historic handicap chase in its new guise as the Coral Gold Cup is one of the most competitive renewals this century, with no fewer than five horses top-priced as 8-1 co-favourites on Friday morning and four more a point behind on 9-1.
Remastered, a faller four out when going like the winner 12 months ago, may prove to be the pick of the market leaders, but despite the strength and depth of the field, it is a surprise to find Our Power (3.05) at a double-figure price a little further down the list.
Sam Thomas’s seven-year-old was steadily progressive last season and put up a new career-best to win the London Gold Cup at Ascot in October, posting an excellent time in the process. Our Power remains unexposed beyond three miles, is proven on good ground and is an excellent bet at around 12-1 to give both Thomas and Sam Twiston-Davies, his jockey, a first win in this race.
Newbury 1.20 Paul Nicholls had Kapcorse – who carries the famous colours of the late Sir Peter O’Sullevan – ready to win this race run in O’Sullevan’s memory first time up last year and a 6lb rise in the weights may not be enough to prevent a repeat performance.
Newcastle 1.35 Malinello has a long absence to overcome on his chasing debut but Ben Pauling has an impressive record with horses returning from a layoff and the seven-year-old’s brief hurdling career in 2020-21 suggests his opening mark is more than fair.
Newbury 1.55 Lightly-raced mare West Balboa has excellent prospects of making a winning handicap debut off 127 having finished within seven lengths of Stage Star in last year’s Challow Hurdle over track and trip.
Newcastle 2.10 Seven days later than planned, Constitution Hill returns to action with at least a stone in hand of his field on Timeform’s ratings and anything other than a third Grade One win from four starts over hurdles will be one of the shocks of the season.
Newbury 2.30 Nicky Henderson has two runners as he looks for a third win in this race in four years and Theatre Glory, an impressive winner off an 8lb lower mark at Kelso in March, could be the pick of them with useful conditional Nathan Brennan taking off 7lb.
Newcastle 3.25 A tough assignment for L’Homme Presse, last season’s Brown Advisory Novice Chase winner at Cheltenham, as he returns to action in a handicap off a mark of 164. At the likely odds, Into Overdrive looks a better bet at around 4-1, as he gets 22lb from the favourite and has the benefit of a run this season.
Newbury 3.40 Amarillo Sky has returned in excellent form and should follow up his recent win at Cheltenham’s November meeting.
Champ beats Paisley Park in thriller
Champ and Paisley Park, the veterans in a five-horse field, produced a memorable finish to the Grade Two Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury on Friday, with Champ holding the late charge of his fellow 10-year-old, Paisley Park, by a neck ahead of what is likely to be a rematch in the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot in three weeks’ time.
Champ set out to make all the running under Jonjo O’Neill jnr and looked set for a straightforward success as Paisley Park came under pressure on the run to the second-last. The former Stayers’ Hurdle winner kept finding more for Aidan Coleman, however, and the gap between the two horses was down to less than two lengths at the final flight.
They were separated by the width of the track as Paisley Park continued to eat into Champ’s lead all the way to the line, but Nicky Henderson’s runner had just enough in the tank to get over the line.
“Our old boy has won an RSA Chase over fences and everybody adores him,” Henderson told Racing TV afterwards. “He’s got the most lovely character and he’s such a sweet horse. AP [McCoy] rode him in a gallop here 10 days ago and he thought he was in great form, but he does have his ailments as well. He’s a bit creaky, like all of us at that age.
“You could see we were travelling and Paisley Park was off the bridle, but you can never write him off. You can never read Paisley Park, he might stand still at the start and still come and beat you.
He’s a bizarre character, but he’s a phenomenal horse with a phenomenal team and I’m sure we’re going to meet again in three weeks’ time.”
Henderson was completing a double after Jet Powered’s impressive 11-length success in the card’s novice hurdle, a performance which saw the five-year-old installed as an 8-1 chance for the Supreme Novice Hurdle at Cheltenham in March.
The card’s Grade Two novice chase, meanwhile, produced a surprise as Sebastopol, the 22-1 outsider of four runners, stayed on strongly to beat Paul Nicholls’s Stage Star, the 2-7 favourite, by five lengths.