Jake returns again this weekend with three selections for Saturday's racing action at Newbury. Did you back his 12/1 winner last week? Let's hope for another sucessful weekend of racing. 

Don't miss out on his ante post tips for Saturday's racing! 

13:15 Newbury Betting Tips

Sir Peter O’Sullevan Memorial Handicap Chase (Class 2) 2m6½f

Killer Clown 1pt EW @ 10/1

 

I’m not saying we’re going to get a small field in the Sir Peter O’Sullevan memorial by any means, but the current Ante-Post market looks as if it will cut up a little come declarations on Thursday morning, as Phoenix Way, Nevilles Cross and Morning Vicar have all been declared for Friday’s 2m4f Handicap Chase instead.

Despite JP McManus’ love for the race I feel I can also quickly rule out Dame De Compagnie unless the ground softens significantly, and I’d imagine it will be a similar story for Venetia Williams’ Farinet. That doesn’t leave too many Horses towards the front end of the market left to pick through, but I think Emma Lavelle’s Killer Clown has a great chance.

This P2P winner needed a couple starts to really get going over fences last season, but after he got the hang of his new sphere, he really enjoyed a successful first season over fences. An unseat at Uttoxeter at the 2nd flight when badly hampered can clearly be excused, although he did disappoint a little at Exeter on his next start – but again I think you can excuse it considering he was chucked straight into open Handicap company, despite only ever jumping 1 fence in public.

Reverting back to Novice Handicap Chase company at Sandown in December last year however, Killer Clown was finally able to show some real promise over the larger obstacles, as he ran a much better race over 2m4f – finishing 3rd behind Alnadam (143) and Before Midnight (148). Dropped 1lb to a mark of 123 for that run, Killer Clown then went to the 2m4½f Novices’ Handicap Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day – and this time he absolutely bolted up, racing prominently and going on to beat Falco Blitz (139) by an impressive 7.5 lengths.

Connections gave Killer Clown a little break of 70 days after that victory, and he returned to action at Newbury in March for the Grade 3 Greatwood Gold Cup Handicap Chase over 2m4f, when contesting from his new mark of 138. Running a grand race once again, Killer Clown made smooth progress through the race and jumped the penultimate flight just behind the leaders. When The Big Bite then started to hang after the final flight this 7yo really took advantage of the opportunity however, and he stayed on strongly for 2nd place.

Only beaten a length by Umbrigado (146) that day at Newbury was a great effort, and the form looks fairly strong with The Big Bite (147) 3rd, and Senior Citizen (144) back in 4th place. Emma Lavelle went to the well one more time with Killer Clown following that Graded placed effort, as he turned up in a Sandown 2m4f Novices’ Handicap Chase off his new mark of 141 – but despite travelling well into the race he seemed to struggle when they quickened, dropping out to last place at the top of the straight, before then staying on strongly up the hill to somehow finish in 3rd place.

Connections decided to give Killer Clown a wind operation over the Summer which should help him, and he made a very pleasing return to action last month in the 2m4f Grade 2 Old Roan Chase at Aintree. Fairly out of his depth class wise, Killer Clown was pushed along but still held 4th place jumping the third last – but he just kept on at the one pace thereafter, eventually coming home in 6th place. That doesn’t sound too promising on the face of it, but he was actually only beaten 12 lengths by the winner Allmankind (164), and he was also only 7 lengths behind Nuts Well (158).

The form of that Old Roan is working out well, but regardless I think it was a good opening effort from Killer Clown – especially as Horses can often need their first run after a wind operation to actually realise that they can breathe properly again. On the evidence of his latest two starts at Aintree and Sandown I think you can safely say that Killer Clown is crying out for a step up in trip however, and this unique 2m6½f test could be a perfect trip for him, as he probably isn’t a thorough stayer who wants to go straight up to 3m.

Another really pleasing aspect of Killer Clown’s return at Aintree last month was the fact that he ran well for such a long way off a mark of 140, but the Handicapper has now dropped him 2lbs back down to 138 – the same mark in which he finished 2nd in the Grade 3 Greatwood Gold Cup here at Newbury back in March. With the decent ground suiting, the step up in trip sure to help, fitness not an issue after a good opening effort, a Handicap mark well within his reach, and Emma Lavelle in good form lately (4 winners from last 18 runners), Killer Clown must have a great chance back at Newbury on Saturday.

13:50 Newbury Betting Tips

Handicap Hurdle (Class 2) 2m4½f

Masters Legacy 1pt EW @ 8/1
Annsam 0.5pts EW @ 16/1

 

1. I’m feeling a bit of déjà vu in this 2m4½f Handicap Hurdle on Saturday, as I’ve got two selections for the race, and both are trained by last week’s Stayers Handicap Hurdle selections. Last weekend at Haydock Dans Le Vent trained by Evan Williams got the better of my other selection in Orbys Legend trained by Philip Hobbs, and there may be a similar story at Newbury this week.

My first selection for the race comes from Philip Hobbs’ Somerset yard, who saddled the winner of this race in 2016 - and this year they rely on Masters Legacy. This 6yo has a similar profile to 2016 winner Onefitzall in that he wasn’t a world beater of a Novice Hurdler, but he has some decent form to his name and returning to this intermediate 2m4½f trip should really help him find even further improvement.

Making his racecourse debut in a Taunton Novice Hurdle back in November 2019, Masters Legacy kept on well to finish 2nd behind Wild Max (142) over 2m – jumping well and showing plenty of promise behind a Horse who’s won three times since. Masters Legacy would actually go on to win two races of his own subsequently, firstly returning to Taunton a month later when beating Eritage (133 Hurdler, 142 Chaser) by a very convincing 4.5 lengths.

Masters Legacy had one further start at Taunton in January 2020 when stepping up in trip to 2m3f for the first time, and on this occasion he put in his most impressive performance of all when running under a penalty – relishing the increase in distance to come away from the field and beat Polish (135) by 3.25 lengths, despite giving that rival 6lbs on the day. Unfortunately his season got cut short at that point however, and he wasn’t seen again for 413 days.

Returning to the track at Taunton once again in February, connections finally got Masters Legacy back on the racecourse in a 2m Handicap Hurdle – where he was definitely up against it off a mark of 136 after such a lengthy absence. Travelling strongly through the race, you could tell that this 6yo needed the run as he took a lead at the third last then faded tamely thereafter – just blowing up in the home straight when finishing 4th in a decent field which included Pic D’Orhy (153).

Connections must have thought that run would have brought him on considerably as he was a fairly short price on his next start came at Newbury in March, where again he ran over 2m but this time off a mark of 134 – but things just never went right for him. Taking a keen hold, Masters Legacy still looked quite threatening when jumping the third last, but he just didn’t seem to have the pace for 2m anymore when kicked out of the way once the others quickened up.

Regardless of how he ran earlier this year it was good for connections to get his career back on track, and this season he’s been able to have a much more conventional campaign. Rubber stamping that assertion that he is back on track, Masters Legacy contested a Class 2 Handicap Hurdle at Chepstow’s season opener meeting at the beginning of October, where he was able to run off a mark of 132. Held up in the rear, this 6yo made steady progress into the race as it developed in earnest, but jumping the penultimate flight you would’ve said he had no chance of winning.

Keeping on well for Tom O’Brien down the long home straight at Chepstow however, Masters Legacy was the only Horse left in picture away from the front 3 going to the last – and heading towards it you could really see him starting to steam home. Continuing that momentum after a quick jump at the final flight, Masters Legacy came right through the leading pack and flew home to pull it out of the fire – getting up in the final stride to beat Valentino Dancer (129) by a head.

That Chepstow race looks to be quite decent considering the 3rd was subsequent Grade 2 Old Roan Chase winner Allmankind (164 Chaser, 150 Hurdler), whilst the 4th Galice Macalo (130) ran okay for midfield in the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham on his next start. Away from the form however it is clear that the time has come for Masters Legacy to step up in trip, and this 2m4½f contest should provide him with the perfect test. His trainer even said that he was surprised he won that day, and that he will be much better stepping up in trip.

Philip Hobbs has said in the past that this Horse runs up a bit light after his races, so I’m pleased to see they’ve given him 49 days between runs, and I think the Handicapper has been very fair in only raising him 2lbs to a mark of 134. I think the step up in trip really could help him improve by a further 10lbs+, so I clearly believe he is nicely treated, and he could take a bit of stopping in this fairly weak looking contest.

2. The other Horse who I will be backing in this race however is Evan Williams’ Annsam, as he just looks too big of a price to ignore. Another 6yo Gelding who doesn’t have a sexy Novice Hurdle profile, Annsam has really developed into a nice Horse through experience, and there could yet be plenty of juice in his current Hurdles mark.

As a Novice Annsam won a Maiden Hurdle at Wincanton in May 2019 before going on his Summer break, and when he returned in the Autumn he struggled in Handicap Hurdles through lack of experience more than anything else. After two modest efforts over 2m however, connections stepped him up in trip to 2m3f at Taunton in December 2019 and he won well off a mark of 113 – before then following up at Catterick a month later off 118, beating the now prolific winner Minella Trump (130 Hurdler, 140 Chaser) by 2.5 lengths.

Sent straight over fences last season, Annsam fell early on during his debut at Exeter last November in a Novice Handicap off a mark of 127, but he ran a cracker on his next start at Ludlow over 2m4f 12 days later – finishing a close 2nd behind House Island (137). Once again building with experience, Annsam returned to the same course and distance a month later and this time he absolutely bolted up – thrashing the very useful Fidelio Vallis (147) by 41 lengths at a hack canter from the front.

That facile victory saw Annsam’s Chase mark skyrocket from 127 to 139, and connections found a good race to aim him at in the Listed Novices’ Handicap Chase at Sandown – the race which was dropped from the Cheltenham Festival. Obviously it was nowhere near as competitive as a Festival Handicap would be, but Annsam really struggled off his mark – losing his position after a mistake, and pulling up having never got into a rhythm.

What really interests me about this Horse for Newbury on Saturday however is the fact that connections sent him back over Hurdles for his seasonal reappearance earlier this month at Kempton, and I thought he ran a lovely race on his return. Running in a 2m5f Pertemps Qualifier Handicap Hurdle, Annsam was held up on this occasion, but he came there absolutely swinging round the home bend – cruising up the outside of the field and last off the bridle. Jumping the penultimate flight upsides the leaders, it looked a matter of when not if he’d go past – but he seemed to just blow up at that point, and kept on at the one pace up the straight for 4th place.

Finishing 4th when only beaten 2.25 lengths was still a great return for Annsam however, and in the context of this Newbury Handicap he will now be 10lbs better off with the Kempton winner and favourite for this race Calva D’Auge (146), whilst he will also be 3lbs better off with the 5th placed Horse at Kempton in Boreham Bill (133).

These Handicap movements are in part owing to the fact that Jockey of the moment Isabel Williams takes off 5lbs at the weights, but as she showed last week on Dans Le Vent she is full value for that allowance. The other factor is that the Handicapper has dropped Annsam 1lb to a mark of 129 for that effort – so he is now rated 6lbs lower over Hurdles than he is over fences.

If Annsam has indeed come on for the run as much as that opening effort suggests, then he should have a massive chance at Newbury on Saturday, and perhaps dropping back in trip slightly from 2m5f to 2m4½f might help him see out his race a little stronger – whilst the good to soft ground should also enhance his chances. He also will only have a featherweight to carry, as his effective mark of 124 gives him a racing weight of just 10st3lbs.

Any Horse who is 10lbs better off with another rival for a 2.25 length defeat is worth a second look, and the fact that Annsam is nearly 3 times the price of the favourite makes him a solid bet here. If connections have aspirations of running in the Pertemps Final at the Cheltenham Festival then they also will need to win a race like this in order to get a run.