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With £71,000 up for grabs to the winner it is hardly surprising that today’s Newbury feature (Jack Frost allowing) the totesport Trophy Hurdle, is one of the most competitive handicaps contested over timber in the calendar. Don’t be put off, this looks like a good race to take a punting interest in.

Al Eile is both top of the betting and top of the handicap. That makes little sense. If Al Eile wins this, the form would be absolutely gilt-edged, so much so that the horse would likely be promoted to Champion Hurdle favourite. But in truth Al Eile is very unlikely to claim the Champion Hurdle crown and would be a surprising winner of this race. The last horse to win a Trophy Hurdle from top weight is Persian War. Al Eile is no Persian War.

With some suspect horses at the top of the market there is each-way value to be had. Natal has attracted plenty of ante-post support but be warned, the last novice to win this without a prior tilt in a handicap was Large Action in 1993. The one horse that springs from the line-up is Manorson who runs at around 16/1.

Finishing tenth in the Supreme Novices’ at Cheltenham is neither stellar nor shabby, but Manorson’s win in Listed company over course and distance is worth noting. Another who would have a chance at decent odds is Royal Paradise. He has also shown a liking for good ground and bad horses don’t finish fourth in a Cheltenham bumper.

The Aon Chase puts Cheltenham Gold Cup wannabes to the test. Monkerhostin is near the top of the market for the big one and favourite today. However, we now know that this horse only got to within spitting distance of reigning Cheltenham hero Kicking King in the King George because the champ was injured. Take The Stand is a better bet.

Still at Newbury, Kauto Star faces a penalty kick in Game Spirit and will score. Up at Warwick Voy Por Ustedes is taken to prevail in by far his toughest test yet. Get on this morning (ante-post) if you fancy him for the Arkle.

Selections

2:20 Warwick Voy Por Ustedes (win)

2:35 Newbury Take The Stand (win)

3:10 Newbury Manorson (each-way)

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