kevin-o-malley-the-tips-den-ante-postJumps action at Newbury on Saturday is far from top class, but the races do have a decent shape to them for ante-post betting purposes and a midweek nibble at a few being offered up at nice prices…

The 2.05 at Newbury is a 3m2f handicap chase where the Philip Hobbs trained Strong Pursuit is a likely favourite for a yard going great guns. This horse ran well at Sandown last time out and looks well handicapped off the same mark here. At over three times his odds though, the Alan King trained SALMANAZAR doesn’t look a bad bet at 16/1 with Bet365. This 11yo is clearly hard to win with, but one thing he has been doing is holding his form well over three miles in recent outings and I think he is due a sterner test of stamina, so this step up in trip is likely to suit. He came up a little short against Strong Pursuit at Sandown last time up, but it is worth noting the absolute howler he had to recover from at the 15th fence, an open ditch, which he landed on top of. He was lucky not to completely lose his stride and all told, it was a sound effort to keep jumping and finding for pressure. He was off for nearly two years between 2016 and 2018, so despite being an 11yo veteran, he doesn’t have too many miles on the clock over fences. The one risk against what I feel would be a very solid run here for Salmanazar, is the fact he is also potentially engaged in the GG Racing Podcast Handicap Chase at Exeter on Sunday; where I would see him in the flesh. Let’s hope we get a run for our money at Newbury, but do keep stakes small. He’d have a good chance on Sunday too.

The Be Wiser Insurance Juvenile Handicap Hurdle at 2.40pm will take a bit of getting over the 2m3f distance, where plenty of these are stepping up in trip for the first time. I like two or three of the likely runners for a bet in truth. Philip Hobbs was going through a bad patch when his Zafar lost at short odds last time out, but the stable has definitely turned the corner now, so this unexposed 4yo makes some appeal at 8s from the head of the market. I could see 16/1 The Knot Is Tied being in the frame again, but the one I like at double those odds is the Richard Hobson trained FANZIO at 33/1 with Betfair. This fella hasn’t been out since the 16th of February, where he went off at 66/1 but stayed on well behind Quel Destin. The 2nd horse home, Capone, out-battled an in-form mare to land a handicap off 127 yesterday, so Fanzio rather catches the eye up in trip now from his lowly mark of 115. He has improved with each run over hurdles in the UK thus far, boasts a notable line of form in his most recent start, has a lovely racing weight of 10st 9lb at the time of writing and solid 3lb conditional Paul O’Brien is already declared for the ride.

The the Mares’ EBF Final at 3.15pm, the Oliver Sherwood trained MILLARVILLE is sure to give a really good account of herself, with the step up in distance at a more galloping track likely to be right up the street of this athletic 6yo. She is not the finished article physically, but has a natural and likeable ability to travel and bar a few clumsy errors last time out, her jumping is fast and nimble too. She finished a staying on 10 lengths behind The Cull Bank last time out, which looks an even better effort from a handicapping point of view since that horse absolutely bolted up impressively at Plumpton on Tuesday, recording an RPR of 136 without coming off the bridle. Millarville will tackle this hot contest on a mark of 120. It is a fair and potentially exploitable rating, provided she continues her upward curve. Conditions are likely to be right in her favour and as for those mistakes under pressure last time out, I’m sure it’s nothing Mr Sherwood hasn’t addressed on the schooling grounds at Rhonehurst since. This mare is going the right way. Her experience in winning a soft ground point to point will be more help than hindrance now she’s creeping up in trip and at 14/1 with Betfair, she rates a good looking value bet.

You can get in touch with me via email: Kevin.OMalley@GG.CO.UK OR by finding me on Twitter: @KOM_GGRacing

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