Search For A Tipster winner Karl Hedley (@KarlHedley1) pinpoints his best bets from Friday's ITV Racing coverage at Newbury. Karl selects four horses to go to war with in Berkshire.
Gala Ball absolutely loves it at Newbury and his recent record over the course and distance reads 122221. He has been a model of consistency though and clearly handles a flat track. The rain looks to have come in time for the selection and he ought to prefer this softer ground.
Richard Johnson is in the saddle once again and the duo look set to go close. Gala Ball has proved that he can go well fresh. In what was his first run back after injury he was runner up to San Benedeto in the Greatwood Handicap Chase again over this course and distance earlier in the year.
At a track where feels so fully at ease, it is difficult to leave him out of calculations particularly with the yard in top form at present. Philip Hobbs is enjoying a twenty five percent-strike rate with his hurdlers over the last thirty days, so anything he runs warrants a second look. Richard Johnson does prefer him to stablemate Dolphin Square so that choice has to be respected.
Kalashnikov could pose the biggest threat to the selection. He is three from four on good to soft ground and is bidding to maintain a one hundred percent strike rate at the track having won the Betfair Hurdle just over eighteen months ago. He was sent off as favourite on his seasonal return but couldn’t cope with late challenge of Forest Bihan at Aintree last month. That run may well have left him spot on for this and he is a formidable opponent.
Alan King has his yard in fine shape and Azzerti was last seen wining over this course and distance three weeks ago. Further improvement cannot be ruled out from this seven year old and although trying to defy a career high mark, he is capable of going close too.
Champ made his chasing debut at the beginning of the month and swiftly put Dashel Drasher in his place when recording an easy three length win at this track. He was a smart performer over hurdles and has clearly transitioned that ability to the larger obstacles.
Whilst this is a step down in trip for him, he clearly oozes class and has to be high on any shortlist. Nicky Henderson has his team in fantastic form and Barry Geraghty comes in for the ride once again.
Following his relatively smooth success here last time he was made a clear favourite for the RSA Chase. He will need to put in another taking display to justify that support and intensify his position at the head of the market. If taking this it will be interesting to see which route connections take with him. The Kauto Star Novice Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day looks an obvious destination.
Black Op may well be prove the main threat this afternoon. He looked like a reformed character when winning a beginners chase at Stratford-on-Avon last month. He will have learned plenty from that experience and he didn’t turn a hair when giving a fifteen length drubbing to Mr Antolini. He is expected to improve again and his current 14/1 SP for the RSA may well shrink on the back of a good effort here.
Paisley Park is undefeated in his last five starts. Wins have come in such races as the Cleeve Hurdle and the Stayers Hurdle both at Cheltenham earlier in the year. Prior to that he won the Betfair Stayers Hurdle at Haydock and the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot. He is clearly a class act and if fit enough to do himself justice, he has to take all of the beating here.
Emma Lavelle has made a good start with her runners so far this season, many of whom were making their seasonal reappearances. She is likely to have her stable star fully primed to deliver another valuable prize over a trip at which he excels.
Unowhatimeanharry is top class on his day and comes here race fit. He recovered from a six month break to chase home the re-opposing The Worlds End at Wetherby last time. With him being fully at home under these conditions, I expect him to reverse the form with the Warren Greatrex runner.
Paisley Park is rated a full stone higher than Unowhatimeanharry. He is still only a seven year old and with every reason to believe there is further improvement to come this year, he is the strongly
Samburu Shujaa won two races at Chepstow earlier this year. The form has worked out well with Liosduin Bhearna winning subsequently at Ayr and and Chepstow. He also beat Debra Hamer’s ultra-consistent Tobefair who has rattled up two wins at Cheltenham since.
The trainer has clearly hit the reset button here as he tries to establish a clear path for Philip Hobbs and Richard Johnson are enjoying a purple patch at present and it would be of little surprise to see the six-year-old turn in a half decent performance.
This three-mile trip seems to have been the making of him. Despite a fairly ordinary performance in the Pertemps Final Handicap at Cheltenham earlier in the year, there is every reason to believe that there is further improvement to come.
Vive Le Roi is the only previous course and distance winner in the field. He will have to find something extra despite having a lot in his favour. He was leading at Aintree, but made a blunder and unshipped Harry Bannister in a race won by Skandiburg. Jockey and horse will need to up there game around here if they are to be involved.
Champers On Ice skates through the mud so any rain that is forecast will be welcomed by connections. Despite being burdened with top-weight he is still well handicapped on the best of his old form. He can front run in his races and that may be a tactic that is deployed by Tom Scudamore. He is certainly an intriguing opponent and rates as a live danger.
Karl Hedley's Best Bets
1:50 Newbury - Gala Ball (8/1 Bet365)
2:25 Newbury - Champ (11/10 Unibet)
3:00 Newbury - Paisley Park (4/6 William Hill)
3:35 Newbury - Shamburu Shujaa (11/1 Bet Victor)