NEWBURY’S Ladbrokes Winter Festival continues to go from strength to strength as a two rather than three day meeting.
The quality is now higher across the board and many will be turning up at the Berkshire track just to catch a glimpse of Paisley Park in today’s Ladbrokes Long Distance Hurdle (3.00pm).
Emma Lavelle’s superstar is taking on some old favourites like Thistlecrack and Unowhatimeanharry, but he should have too much for them.
It’s a watching race for me, though, and my first selection is Harry Fry’s KING ROLAND in the opening Ladbrokes ‘Where The Nation Plays’ Maiden Hurdle (12.15pm).
This son of Stowaway won both his bumpers last season before having a break and getting his wind done.
Looking good on both of those starts, he could be a top class novice hurdler this season who may well end up in something like the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham.
This race has been won by some top class horses like Lostintranslation and Buveur D’Air in recent years, so it won’t be easy but I’m hoping this horse could be quite special.
Amy Murphy’s decision to target KALASHNIKOV at the Get Your Ladbrokes £1 Free Bet Today Handicap Chase (1.50pm) rather than the BetVictor Gold Cup can be rewarded.
Her stable star won a Grade One at Aintree in April and then was an excellent second to Forest Bihan in the Old Roan Chase on his reappearance.
He is better than a handicapper and worth backing at 10/3 with the sponsors.
King Roland 12.15pm Newbury
Kalashnikov 1.50pm Newbury