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As any regular visitor to the east coast of the US will testify, the way Britain grinds to a halt in even mildly inclement winter weather is pathetic. The prompt action of officials at Newbury to cover much of its 28 acres of track ahead of this week’s cold snap and protect Saturday’s feature meeting should then be applauded. It is not beyond the wit of man to beat the weather.
With the Cheltenham Festival barely a week away, Newbury deserves an additional bouquet for hosting such a high-quality card, largely thanks to Vodafone’s sponsorship. The biggest race of the day is the Vodafone Gold Cup Handicap Chase, and a prize of ₤61,000 to the winner has ensured a competitive field of horses who would no doubt otherwise be bound for Cheltenham.
This is a difficult race for punters, with plenty of horses with a somewhat mixed reputation. The likely favourite Claymore owes his position near
the top of the market
because of his admirable consistency. However, that consistency also ensures that the attentions of
the handicapper are unremitting and after a good season he may be
one to swerve on this occasion. One horse long overdue a big win over fences is Non So and he looks like each-way value. He ought to reverse places with Claymore on their running at Wetherby last time when Non So
was beaten by around two lengths whilst given away five pounds. He was ridden off the pace that day as his connections were uncertain he would stay.
Now they know he will, he can be ridden more positively and provided his sometimes fragile jumping holds up he looks to have an excellent opportunity to run into at least a place.
In Newbury’s big hurdle race, likely favourite Tokala has excellent claims.
3:15 – Non So (each-way)
3:45 – Tokala (win)