THIS is one of the quietest weekends of the National Hunt season as trainers get their ducks in a row ahead of Cheltenham.
However, The Racecourse Newbury hosts its hugely popular Greatwood Charity Raceday tomorrow which celebrates all aspects of equestrianism.
The highlight is the StanJames.com Supporting Greatwood Gold Cup (3.50pm) which has turned into a Paul Nicholls benefit in recent years. The seemingly champion trainer-elect has won five of the last six renewals and six of the last eight overall.
He relies on two runners tomorrow and jockey bookings suggest Ulck Du Lin could be the stable’s number one hope. Noel Fehily takes the mount and after some shoddy performances the six-year-old is down to a winnable mark.
But I prefer top weight REBEL REBELLION who won the Grand Sefton at Aintree two starts back. That was a gutsy effort and the drop back to two miles at Sandown didn’t suit last time.
It doesn’t look like the hottest of races, in all honesty, but first time cheekpieces for the horse could give him an edge for a stable that has won this many times with its supposed second-string.
Veterans races are loved by jumps enthusiasts and the Barbury International Supporting Greatwood Veterans’ Handicap Chase (2.40pm) looks set to be a cracker.
The magnificent Carruthers is poised to return to the scene of his greatest triumph in the 2011 Hennessy after a tremendous performance in the Classic Chase at Warwick last time. He will ensure it is a real test of stamina, but that will suit my selection PETE THE FEAT down to the ground.
Charlie Longsdon’s 10-year-old went on a remarkable run at the beginning of last season and he picked up another win this campaign at Fontwell. Sandown didn’t seem like the ideal track last time and he should be much more at home back at Newbury.
The big race at Doncaster is the William Hill Grimthorpe Chase (3.30pm) and I’m going to take a chance on Emma Lavelle’s COURT BY SURPRISE. He was disappointing in this race last year, but has won over three miles at the track and should go well off his low weight.
PETE THE FEAT e/w 2.40pm Newbury (tomorrow)
COURT BY SURPRISE e/w 3.30pm Doncaster (tomorrow)
REBEL REBELLION 3.50pm Newbury (tomorrow)