Saturday’s Daily Double – 35/1 each-way double covering televised races at Newbury and Newcastle
Jon Vine rolls his NAP of the day and his Next Best into his Daily Double, covering runners in ITV Races at Newbury and Newcastle on Saturday 30th November.
Saturday’s Daily Double
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2:25pm Newbury Ladbrokes “Where The Nation Plays” Intermediate Hurdle (A Limited Handicap) (Listed Race) 2m
Nicky Henderson’s usually rules the roost here at Newbury and he’s won this handicap, which was formerly known as the Gerry Feilden, on six separate occasions. While the betting may suggest Elusive Belle is his first-string in this year’s renewal, his classiest entrant is clearly EPATANTE (NAP) and she should have the beating of this field.
The winner of a Grade One bumper when based in France, Epatante made the perfect start to her new life at Seven Barrows last season, securing cosy three-length victories on her first couple of starts over hurdles. Henderson’s mare then went into the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham as the firm favourite, but ran a little flat on the day, crossing the line a well-beaten ninth.
The handicapper took a dim view on that performance, dropping Epatante down the ratings by six pounds. However, reports coming out of Seven Barrows after Cheltenham said Henderson almost pulled Epatante out of the Festival, as she hadn’t reacted well to the flu jab she was given just weeks previous, and that would have accounted for her lacklustre display.
Epatante’s new mark of 137 looks extremely generous and a little extra juice in the ground won’t hinder her chances one bit. Aidan Coleman will be very keen to impress as he dons JP McManus’ silks and I fancy Epatante will take all the beating on Saturday.
3:20pm Newcastle Betfair Rehearsal Handicap Chase (Listed Race) 2m7½f
Jonniesofa returned from a long absence in fine style at Ayr and could be competitive again, now back up in trip. Kilfilum Cross also looks to have a strong chance, if he takes to the heavy ground. While both appeal, I’ve been hoping to see TOP VILLE BEN (NB) dropped into handicap company this term and this test of stamina could suit Phil Kirby’s charge perfectly.
Top Ville Ben really impressed during his first season over fences, despite an early fall in the RSA at Cheltenham. Kirby’s seven-year-old secured three victories by a combined winning distance of 96 lengths last term and rounded off his campaign at Aintree, where he finished third in the Mildmay behind Lostintranslation and Topofthegame.
Kirby’s charge travelled to Wetherby on his reappearance, but produced a terrible effort in the Charlie Hall, trailing over the line fifth after fading rapidly from the front. That wasn’t the first time Kirby’s front-runner has thrown in a shocker, but there’s no doubting he’s capable of a huge performance on his day and his current mark of 151 is certainly not beyond him.
Lake View Lad’s presence leaves Top Ville Ben carrying just 11-7 on Saturday. Thomas Dowson guided Kirby’s seven-year-old to victory on his first start over fences last autumn and Top Ville Ben bolted up twice on heavy ground over hurdles. I’m hoping to see him jumping boldly on the front end and Top Ville Ben could take some catching, if he can maintain his rhythm throughout.