The first day of what was once fondly known as the Hennessy meeting takes place at Newbury on Friday and Racing Post tipster Graeme Rodway returns to mark your card.
The 2m4f handicap chase (2.25) looks like a competitive race on paper, but it might not prove that way in practice because Kandoo Kid is fancied to get the reward for a string of good efforts.
The lightly raced seven-year-old was third in a hot race at Ascot last November on his first start following a long absence and has returned from another long break to run well this year.
He was probably in need of the run when second behind Nickle Back on his chasing debut at Warwick in October and improved significantly on that effort to take the same position over course and distance three weeks ago. He was beaten a neck behind winner Galop De Chasse.
The front two pulled 32 lengths clear of the remainder of the field that day in a good time for the grade and a 6lb rise in the weights doesn’t look too harsh when taking that into account.
There should be plenty more to come from Kandoo Kid here and he is set to go one better.
The Long Distance Hurdle (3.00) is the feature on the first day and it looks like a good opportunity for the richly talented Marie’s Rock to make a successful seasonal return.
Marie’s Rock made it to the track only three times last season, but her best effort came following a long break when winning the Relkeel Hurdle at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day.
She evidently goes well fresh, so the 230-day absence can be considered a positive, and she proved she is a top-class stayer when second behind Sire Du Berlais in a Grade 1 at Aintree’s Grand National meeting in April. That was her first run over 3m1/2f and she appeared to stay.
Marie’s Rock remains unexposed and open to plenty of further improvement over long distances this season, so it will be disappointing if she can’t win this en route to better things.
The 3m handicap hurdle (3.35) is an open-looking race, but they may all have go to beat Hoe Joly Smoke, who should improve significantly for his reappearance at Chepstow last month.
Hoe Joly Smoke was having his first run following wind surgery that day and he was easy to back. That’s probably because many of trainer Dan Skelton’s runners have been needing their reappearance and this five-year-old was another who shaped like he was short of peak fitness.
The son of Black Sam Bellamy travelled nicely for much of the way but became outpaced at a crucial stage and only stayed on into third late. Maybe the 2m31/2f was too sharp for him.
Hoe Joly Smoke steps up to 3m for the first time here and looks certain to improve for the greater emphasis on stamina, especially now that he has that seasonal return behind him
Skelton’s runners are finally starting to hit form now and Holy Joe Smoke is ready to peak.
Graeme Rodway’s tip:
This article was written by a partner sports writer via Spotlight Sports Group. All odds displayed on this page were correct at the time of writing and are subject to withdrawal or change at any time.