Storm Arwen is expected to deposit the most significant rainfall for several weeks on Newbury racecourse before the Ladbrokes Trophy Chase on Saturday, which adds an extra layer of uncertainty to the task of sifting a value bet from a long list of possibilities.
Second-season chasers have a strong recent record in this historic handicap, though, and it seems likely to go to an up-and-comer again this year with at least half a dozen plausible candidates towards the top of the betting.
Those include Eklat De Rire, with just four chase starts in the book, who will attract plenty of support to give Henry de Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore another big Saturday winner.
The seven-year-old was still travelling well when he unseated Blackmore at the 12th fence in the three-mile Grade One novice chase at last season’s Festival meeting, and made a satisfactory return from his summer break in a four-runner Listed event at Wexford in October.
Today’s race is a very different test, however, and Eklat De Rire has also done all his winning so far on heavy ground, so at the likely odds, Remastered (3.00) makes more appeal.
David Pipe’s eight-year-old was a Grade Two winner as a novice last season in the Reynoldstown at Ascot, gets weight from most of the market leaders and has the useful Fergus Gillard taking off another 3lb. Like several recent winners of this race, he also likes to race up with the pace and looks overpriced at around 14-1.
Newbury 1.15: Kalooki has not seen a track since March, but he was an easy winner first time up last season over this track and trip and remains on a fair mark.
Newcastle 1.30: Cooper’s Cross made plenty of ground to win last time and looks overpriced at around 7-2 against likely favourite Valleres.
Newbury 1.50: The bare form of Black Mischief’s easy win at Newton Abbot in July is backed up by the clock and he is a solid each-way bet at around 14-1.
Newcastle 2.05: The Ferry Master should improve for his comeback run earlier this month and was a cosy winner over course and distance – from a 4lb lower mark – on this card 12 months ago.
Newbury 2.25: Nicky Henderson is going for a hat-trick in this race and his recent Ascot winner, Captain Morgs, gets 18lb from likely favourite Soaring Glory.
Newcastle 3.15: Monmiral is an interesting new opponent for former Champion Hurdle winner Epatante but Nicky Henderson’s mare gets 7lb from the four-year-old and should make the most of it.
Newbury 3.35: Grey Diamond has been dropped 1lb after a promising return to action at Ascot and could be another winner for the in-form Sam Thomas yard.