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There is a plethora of top-class racing action this weekend
  1. Horse Racing

Weekend Racing Preview: Nicholls aims for Newbury double

Champion trainer Paul Nicholls will be hoping a pair of his stable stars can land graded successes at Newbury on Saturday, while Arkle favourite Jonbon is the star attraction at Warwick.

The Game Spirit and Denman Chase are amongst the standouts at Newbury, where subsequent Arkle winner Edwardstone won the Kingmaker at Warwick last season before his Cotswolds glory.

There's also plenty to get stuck into on Sunday, with Exeter and Navan boasting some quality jumps racing to round off the weekend.

Follow all the UK and Irish racing via our bet365 live Sports Streaming Service as we look ahead to another stellar weekend's racing. 

Champion trainer plays strong hand at Newbury

Paul Nicholls is enjoying a fine season and the champion trainer will be hoping for more success on Saturday afternoon at Newbury.

He's won what is now the Denman Chase (2.25) a record ten times in his career and the Ditcheat supremo has 7/4 Hitman bidding for glory this time. He found the King George at Kempton on Boxing Day too hot but could yet have plenty to offer at this sort of trip. 

Joe Tizzard's Eldorado Allen at 11/4 and the Venetia Williams-trained Fanion D'estruval at 7/2 are amongst the key opponents for Hitman. 

Following that is the second of Newbury's Grade 2 contests, the Game Spirit Chase (3.00) a race Nicholls last won in 2015 on the afternoon where AP McCoy stunned the racing public by announcing he was set to retire.

Tingle Creek runner-up Greaneteen is 4/9 to land this contest for Nicholls and Harry Cobden, with last season's Champion Chase second Funambule Sivola heading the opposition at 5/1 for Williams and Charlie Deutsch. 

Irish raiders targeting Newbury pot

Also on the Newbury card is the Betfair Hurdle (3.35) one of Britain's key spring handicaps and a pot worth north of £87k to the winner.

A field of 18 runners are set to contest this tough handicap and there are Irish raiders in the form of 7/2 Filey Bay for trainer Emmet Mullins and 8/1 Icare Allen for his uncle Willie Mullins. 

Nicholls and Cobden meanwhile will look to progressive Rubaud at 7/1 to try and stem the raiding party, while further home hopes are held by 10/1 No Ordinary Joe for Nicky Henderson and the Philip Hobbs-trained Monviel at 11/1 in a contest where the raceday betting market can often be a crucial aid.

Related Horse Racing News

Cheltenham Festival: A look at Paul Nicholls' Festival runners

Cheltenham Festival: A look at Nicky Henderson's Festival runners

Jonbon on show at Warwick

It's a big day for Warwick racecourse on Saturday as they host the Grade 2 Kingmaker Novices' Chase (2.40) where no less than unbeaten chaser Jonbon is 2/9 favourite for Nicky Henderson.

The Seven Barrows inmate is as short at 11/8 for next month's Arkle in Cheltenham and will now bid to emulate Edwardstone, who won this race last year en route to taking that two-miler in the Cotswolds.

Jonbon's only career defeat saw him finishing second to the monster that is Constitution Hill in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle last season and he should be too classy for Haddex Des Obeaux, Bass Rock, and Calico here.

He isn't the only Cheltenham Festival contender bound for Warwick on Saturday.

Harry Fry's Love Envoi has won both starts this season and is 8/15 to land the Listed Mares' Hurdle (2.05) over two-miles-and-five-furlongs, after which last year's Festival-winning novice is likely bound for the Mares' Hurdle back at Cheltenham on 14th March.

Nicky Henderson's 5/2 chance Theatre Glory and Dan Skelton's Molly Ollys Wishes at 10/1 are amongst those bidding to cause an upset. 

Elimay faces pretenders in Opera Hat defence

Across in Ireland the feature event on Saturday is the Listed Opera Hat Mares Chase (3.25) at Naas where Willie Mullins' Elimay will defend a crown she won last spring.

The tough grey faces a stern challenge in a field of seven runners. Paul Townend remains faithful to Elimay, but the other Closutton entry, Dinoblue, has some promising form in the book too. 

Henry De Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore meanwhile will be eager to see what Magic Daze can produce in opposition to the JP McManus-owned pair. She is two years the junior of Elimay, has been second in both runs this season and doesn't have a lot to find on ratings – ensuring she's very interesting getting weight from the defending champ.

Blazing Khal returns in Boyne Hurdle 

Grade 2 action from Ireland on Sunday comes via the Boyne Hurdle (2.40) at Navan. Tiger Roll used this is a stepping stone for the Cross Country at Cheltenham and his trainer Gordon Elliott is following a similar path now with Delta Work, the 5/4 favourite to retain his title in the Cotswolds next month.

This contest however is more likely to see Mullins' Saint Sam heading the betting after me made a winning return to the hurdling ranks on New Year's Eve in clear cut fashion.

Perhaps the runner that most eyes will be on is Charles Byrnes' Blazing Khal on his first appearance in 428 days. He's been touted as a leading Stayers' Hurdle contender for next month in Cheltenham – a race he's 7/1 to win – and a satisfactory showing here could stamp his passport. 

Exeter keeps the quality coming

Not to be outdone, Exeter has two Listed races on their Sunday afternoon card. 

The first is a Mares' Chase (3.00) over three-miles and features a field of five. Pink Lady has lost her way a bit this season but could look for a rebound now, while Jeremy Scott's Kissesforkatie is showing real consistency this season (2212) and rates as the one to beat getting 4lb from Venetia Williams' mare.

Later, look out for Luccia in the Novices' Hurdle (3.30) as Nicky Henderson's mare seeks to maintain her perfect record and supplement November's win at Newbury in this grade against her own sex. 

She takes on some geldings now and will look to enhance her reputation ahead of the Mares' Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham on 16th March, a contest the Seven Barrows inmate is 3/1 to win.

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