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The 2018 Cheltenham Festival is less than five weeks away, and this Saturday’s Newbury meeting is a great opportunity to see some of the stars that might light up the festival. There’s the Denman Chase which is a recognised trial for the Cheltenham Gold Cup, whilst the Game Spirit Chase is a usually contested by horse heading for the Champion Chase. There’s also the UK’s richest handicap hurdle the Betfair Hurdle.
Barters Hill could have got in light on a mark of 142, tackling handicap company for the first time, as he makes his comeback after having 15 months off the track. Some of his novice hurdle form suggested he would be rated in the mid 150’s or higher and, though he may not be 100% fit here, his trainer has been firing in plenty of winners this week. He’s also 2 from 2 at Newbury, and in winning those races he beat three rivals that are now amongst the highest-rated horses in England in Altior, Buverur D’air and Politologue.
Barters Hill win @ 11/4 Bet365, PaddyPower
Cloudy Dream would be a great boost to the Jefferson family after trainer Malcolm Jefferson sadly passed way this week. His daughter Ruth takes over, and he’s an interesting punt against Native River and Saphir Du Rheu who are both having their first runs of the season. He didn’t quite look to see out the extended 3-mile trip last time at Aintree, but the winner Definitely Red boosted that form by winning over further next time, and he should get home over 3-miles on better ground here.
Cloudy Dream win @ 15/8 Betfair, PaddyPower
Altior makes his return from a wind operation in the Game Spirit Chase, and his trainer Nicky Henderson will be hoping that back-to-back victories in this race for last year’s Arkle winner will give him his fourth winner of this race in the last eight years. He’s fancied to prove he’s as good as the formbook says he is, but he’ll need to be at his best with this year’s Haldon Gold Cup winner and Tingle Creek Chase winner Politologue in opposition.
Altior win @ 8/13 Bet365
Moon Racer has never officially been rated higher than 148 but was deemed good enough to run in last season’s Champion Hurdle. He was pulled up in that race, and again at Aintree, but connections have given him a wind operation since, and look to have saved him for this. If back to form, he certainly has the past form to go close. He beat the likes of Modus, Yanworth and Supasundae when winning the Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival, and also boasts a victory over hurdles over last year’s winner of this race Ballyandy.
Moon Race each way @ 33/1 Bet365, WilliamHill
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