THERE has been plenty said about the modern day obsession with the Cheltenham Festival, but the next 48 hours at Newbury prove that there are plenty of other delights during the jumps season.
The highlight of today’s intriguing card is the Ladbrokes Long Distance Hurdle (3.00pm), which looks an absolute humdinger of a race.
Thistlecrack produced an electrifying performance to win last season’s King George at Kempton and it was such a shame when he suffered a tendon injury ahead of the Festival.
This will be his first start since his defeat to the ill-fated Many Clouds in Cheltenham’s Cotswold Chase last January.
It’s always been the scheduled starting point, although it clearly isn’t the main target. Tizzard already has one eye on Kempton.
The nine-year-old is a brilliant horse and a worthy favourite in receipt of weight, but I’m siding with another nine-year-old in the shape of UNOWHATIMEANHARRY.
Harry Fry’s stable star has incredibly won 10 of his 11 starts since joining the yard, his only defeat coming in the Stayers’ Hurdle when he wasn’t right.
He showed his well-being at Aintree a few weeks ago on his reappearance, beating Value At Risk and Top Notch over a trip short of his best.
Although it’s going to be a tough ask conceding 6lbs to Thistlecrack, I think he can do it and 7/4 looks too big.
I’m going to rely on a different Harry for my second selection because Harry Whittington can land the Ladbrokes Chase (12.50pm) with BIGMARTRE.
The yard won this novices’ handicap with Arzal two years ago and they can repeat the dose with this son of Montmatre, who couldn’t have been more impressive on his chasing debut at Ludlow in October.
POINTERS – TODAY
Bigmartre 12.50pm Newbury
Unowhatimeanharry 3.00pm Newbury