It is Super Saturday at Newbury, with multiple Grade 2 races to complement red-hot handicap action in the feature. Keith Melrose from the Racing Post provides his best bets on the card.
The field for the Game Spirit Chase would have made this a proper trial for the Queen Mother Champion Chase. Edwardstone and Editeur Du Gite were both among the market leaders for that race last year, having won the Tingle Creek and Clarence House respectively.
Both are 10 now and neither has looked quite their old self this season. Editeur Du Gite did win the Desert Orchid, now a handicap, while Edwardstone's standout effort when second in the Tingle Creek is extremely hard form to pin down and winner Jonbon subsequently being turned over hardly encourages a positive reading.
If AMARILLO SKY can return after a year off in the same form as when we last saw him, he is no double-figure shot. He has an excellent record at the track, too. In three chase runs at Newbury, he has fallen (two out when looking in command), won by 10 lengths and won by 14 lengths. He also gets 6lb from the main players here, which brings him even closer to their level.
There are six places on offer in this major handicap hurdle, which is so competitive that the offer is very welcome for punters.
Much of the discussion is about Ocastle Des Mottes, who is making his debut for Willie Mullins. He has to improve on his French form, but the expectation is that he will now Mullins is doing the training.
He has been uneasy in the betting, perhaps partly because punters are looking at horses more tangibly well treated than a horse we assume will have improved for a change of yards.
You are guessing less with a 20/1 shot. KNICKERBOCKERGLORY has form that ties in with the much more fancied Altobelli, has a good relationship with claiming rider Tristan Durrell and has a strong record in the mud. In races on soft or heavy going, his form figures read 1-1-1-1-2-2-9-1-7. On quicker ground they are 2-4-5-3-1.
Knickerbockerglory can clearly do it in these big handicap hurdles. He was second in last year's Imperial Cup at Sandown. He strikes as the sort who should be right there at the finish, and even if an Oracle Des Mottes goes past him he should collect the place part of his bet for followers.
This is a warm novices' handicap chase. Inch House is a deserving favourite, having run away with a similar event when last seen here. The only gremlin is he showed little of the same zip when he ran at Cheltenham on New Year's Day.
That gives just enough room to take him on. You would have done well to oppose talented perennial loser Mister Coffey to this point and that would not change overall even if he were to win this. Much better to side with HITCHING JACKING, who has been showing clear promise over fences.
On both chase runs so far, Hitching Jacking has crept into contention despite jumping struggles. He has therefore not seen his races out, while absences before both runs suggest he might not have been hard-fit either. He ought to satisfy the second condition now, while his jumping should sharpen up as he learns - habitual poor jumpers are rare in the Skelton yard. He is better than a rating of 126 and saved his best over hurdles for soft ground.
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.