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Runners and Riders
Mark Your Card: your best bets for Betfair Day at Newbury
With some top Cheltenham contenders set to go to post, Declan Smyth picks us a few winners from today’s rescheduled card at Newbury.

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NEWBURY’S SUPER SATURDAY has become Fab Friday, with the majority of last weekend’s abandoned Betfair card set to go to post this afternoon. While there might not be a lot of value for punters in our graded races, we should be a lot wiser on some of the fancied horses for Cheltenham.

The white flag is due to be raised just before 12:10 for the Grade 2 Game Spirit Chase, and Sprinter Sacre is expected to go off a short-priced favourite. His jockey Barry Geraghty has said that he’s one of the best horses he’s ever sat on and that’s saying something.

Of the other five runners, Zaynar drops back in trip here but will have to improve to win, while the favourite’s stable companion and last year’s winner, French Opera, has his first outing since last April.

Hold Fast has improved since joining Paul Nicholls and owner Graham Wylie can expect a good showing from his horse. However, he will have to show more improvement to beat our selection SPRINTER SACRE.


The Grade 2 Denman Chase is due off at 12:40, and today is Long Run’s chance to show his detractors what he’s made of. He probably wasn’t fit enough when beaten in the Betfair at Haydock and put up a much improved showing in the King George, when he was beaten by just over a length by the great Kauto Star. My one concern is that when the pace is upped, his jumping can be a bit iffy.

His stable companion Burton Port has his first run since November 2010, while Tidal Bay and What A Friend both have a few quirks. A positive for What A Friend is the 10lbs he receives from Long Run, and if he’s on a good day, he could be in the shake-up.

The Giant Bolster is improving and will probably go off in front, but if he’s to have any chance of winning the Gold Cup, LONG RUN must win this. I think that his class will tell.


The Scilly Isles chase is a Grade 1 Novice Chase over 2m4f, and it goes to post at 14:55. It looks to be another tricky affair.

For Non Stop steps back up in trip after finishing runner-up to Al Ferof over 2m and Cue Card over 2m3f back in December. The step up should benefit him as he won his point-to -point over 3m at Horse and Jockey back in 2009.

The trip should also help Walkon who beat Zaynar by six lengths over the trip in December before a disappointing 15-length third behind Cue Card and For Non Stop at Newbury at the end of December.

Cedre Bleu should improve for his first run since last January when he beat Belvano over the shorter 2m1f at this track. Our Mick is an improving sort who comes here on the back of a hat-trick of wins, but steps up in class following an impressive 15-length win on heavy ground at Haydock last time.

Mossley drops back in trip and doesn’t appeal as much as FOR NON STOP who might just be good enough, although Walkon and Cedre Blue will make him work hard.

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