It’s Greatwood Gold Cup day at Newbury and Racing Post tipster Robbie Wilders is back with two each-way plays, including a selection in the feature.
Pileon @ 7/1
Sebastopol @ 6/1
Conditions will be much quicker than those which presented themselves in the previous running of the 2m4½f handicap hurdle at Newbury (2.10), and I would wager this is a stronger renewal than the one Bold Plan landed in 2022.
Bold Plan is back for more off 3lb higher and should go well, but ready preference is for Pileon each-way for the resurgent Christian Williams stable.
Williams only saddled three winners from September until mid-February before Cap Du Nord bolted up in the Swinley Chase at Ascot, and a further big-race handicap victory followed in the Eider at Newcastle last weekend with Kitty’s Light.
The trainer was again on the board with a 16/1 winner at Taunton on Thursday (backed down from 22/1 on the show) and Pileon is undoubtedly well handicapped off a mark of 125.
Second in the Martin Pipe at the Cheltenham Festival a few years ago off 138 for former trainer Philip Hobbs, Pileon is 6lb lower than his previous winning rating, and it must be long-odds on Williams can conjure a decent prize out of him eventually after just four runs for the yard during a period in which the horses were underperforming.
Pileon showed more spark on his last start when second under an inexperienced conditional jockey at Doncaster in February and, with Jack Tudor turning up for just the one ride at Newbury aboard Williams’ sole runner, the nine-year-old can keep the yard in the headlines on the quick ground he enjoys.
It is a minor concern Pileon may be best suited to three miles nowadays. However, there are multiple avenues of pace in this and he has scored over this intermediate distance in the past. Back him each-way.
The Greatwood Gold Cup (2.45) brings a high level of intrigue and represents arguably the showdown of the weekend between Paint The Dream and Zanza, who dispute favoritism.
These nine-year-olds absolutely love it at the Berkshire track and are unbeaten in chases here.
However, I’d be slightly concerned about them each running off a mark of 158 and conceding lumps of weight to plenty of promising types in their own right.
A lifetime best will probably be required if one of them can bring the house down at Newbury with a weight-carrying performance to marvel.
With bet365 offering three places despite just seven runners lining up, I’m attracted to Sebastopol as a betting proposition.
Tom Lacey’s progressive novice must defy a 99-day break, but his record fresh is respectable and a rest was absolutely required after a busy autumn in which he ran four times from October through to November.
Sebastopol needs spring ground to thrive and gets that here, and the last time he ran at Newbury he produced a big career-best, accounting for the smart Stage Star in a Grade 2 by five lengths under a 5lb penalty.
While Stage Star might have underperformed that day, the effort still indicates my selection could be well treated back in a handicap off a mark of 147.
Stage Star is now considered a live chance for the Grade 1 Turners at the Cheltenham Festival after a decisive triumph on Trials day.