Super Saturday at Newbury

Saturday 10th February, 3:15pm

Ocastle Des Mottes @ 11/2
Iberico Lord @ 6/1
Altobelli @ 7/1
Spirit D’aunou @ 17/2
view odds

*prices correct at time of writing. 

The two-mile handicap hurdle (3-15) at the centre of Newbury’s ‘Super Saturday’ is one of the most competitive – and celebrated – prizes outside the spring festivals. As well as showcasing a string of star names, there have been controversial years, not least when legendarily-shrewd trainer Captain H. Ryan Price and jockey Josh Gifford lost their licences following the marked improvement of Rosyth to win what was then the Schweppes in 1964. And in 1967, after bolting up, Price’s Hill House failed a post-race dope test for a steroid which he successfully argued was produced naturally by the horse. 2024 provides a proper puzzler.

Conditions will be ultra examining after rain which shouldn’t be a particular problem for Willie Mullins’ Ocastle Des Mottes, a winner at a decent level in France on heavy and very soft. Of more concern perhaps is that the horse takes on such a major assignment after quite such a long break, and less so his handicap level which could easily be generous.

Altobelli is here following two excellent efforts at Ascot for which he doesn’t seem to have been unduly penalised. When he was a close third in December, it was the Nicky Henderson-trained Luccia (worse off and conditions a negative) which won, while another Henderson runner, Iberico Lord, didn’t really show up in seventh. Iberico Lord is fine with rain-softened ground as demonstrated in the Greatwood at Cheltenham when accounting for Lookaway and Luccia in second and third. What a likeable horse Lookaway is, putting in another fine display when filling the same position in the Challow Hurdle, over further on this course, though he does have plenty of weight.

Go Dante was sixth in the Greatwood and improved from there, inflicting defeat for the first time on another Henderson runner in this, Doddiethegreat. Doddiethegreat has just the profile that tends to do well in this. Others to note in conditions are the well-regarded Aurigny Mill which, considering recent success, would probably be shorter in the market if trained at a higher profile stable; the highly progressive Spirit D’Aunou which positively danced away with a victory at Sandown; and Norman Fletcher which relished the (very) heavy going at Aintree on Becher Chase day.

In the Denman Chase (2-05), Shishkin attempts to underline his position as leading British contender for the Gold Cup, returning after unseating Nico de Boinville in the King George.

The pressure’s on Edwardstone, back to two miles in the Game Spirit Chase (2-40). He went up in distance last time but pulled hard and bombed out. In the handicap hurdle at 1-30, Kyntara looks to put behind him a luckless late stumble at Warwick last time.

At Naas (3-40), hopes are high that Cheltenham Festival winner Maskada can build on a better run last time behind the mighty El Fabiolo.

Nicky Henderson has won five times but not since My Tent Or Yours (2013); that may change perhaps with Iberico Lord.

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