Top-class cast set for Newbury
A look ahead to the rest of Friday's action from Newbury including the Warren Greatrex-trained One Track Mind.
Jockey Gavin Sheehan stands with One Track Mind
One Track Mind is one of the key names to feature on the opening day of the Hennessy meeting at Newbury.
Warren Greatrex's One Track Mind achieved more than any over hurdles, winning the Grade One Champion Stayers Hurdle at the Punchestown Festival.
However, Greatrex admits his lack of recent winners – the success of Petticoat Tails in the Wetherby bumper on Wednesday was his first for nearly two weeks – is adding to his apprehension.
"He's starting off over two and a half miles which you'd have to think is a bit short of his best, but I had to start him off somewhere," said the Lambourn handler.
"He's schooled very well this week and I'm very happy with him. He's won over the course and distance over hurdles so that is a bonus. Just at the back of my mind I'd like to be having a few more winners. However, I'd probably say that whatever form we were in! It was a relief to finally get one on the board at Wetherby yesterday."
Up against him is Dan Skelton's Virgilio, winner of his first two runs over fences before pulling up in the Rising Stars Novices' Chase at Wincanton.
Paul Nicholls runs Clan Des Obeaux, who was fourth on his chasing debut, while Nicky Henderson runs fellow four-year-old Protek Des Flos.
In the Bet365 Open Handicap Chase,Tom George's Double Shuffle is back out again just 13 days after he failed to live up to expectations when well fancied for the BetVictor Gold Cup.
"We decided to ride him differently at Cheltenham, he's always been handy but we thought we'd drop him out. It's fair to say it backfired," said George.
"The one bonus was he didn't give himself a hard race because he never picked up the bridle, he was never going at any stage. He gave himself too easy a race. We'll ride him handier this time and hope he bounces back. It's a shame, as he'd been in good form going into it but these things happen."
Skelton runs Three Musketeers, who was well fancied for the Old Roan at Aintree on his return but faded to finish sixth of seven. However, the one horse he did beat was Sire De Grugy who has come out and won since, while one place in front was Royal Regatta, who has also subsequently scored.
Tenor Nivernais and Stilleto make seasonal reappearances while Red Spinner and Splash Of Ginge are also involved.
Malcolm Jefferson makes a very rare foray down to Newbury with one of his brightest hopes, Double W's, in the Bet365 Chase.
Winner of his first two outings over fences, barely putting a foot wrong in the process, he carries top weight in the Limited Handicap
"The plan is to run him as long as the ground is OK. We wouldn't want it getting too soft," said Jefferson.
"There aren't that many opportunities for him and this is the ideal sort of race for him really. I like the limited handicaps, they are perfect for horses like him without having to aim too high too early. He's not a horse who'd want very soft ground, so the idea is to give him as much experience as we can and then give him a break before bringing him back in the spring.
"He always looked like being a chaser and he's been very good so far. This is another step up but I'm hoping the better the race, the better he'll be."
George's Valseur Du Granval has also won his last two in good style and takes a leap in class.
"This is another better race but he's earned it," said George.
"He has been improving but he needs to raise his game. I like these races, they are ideal for horses like him who start at a low level."
Alan King has always thought the world of Winner Massagot and he was sent off favourite for The Ladbroke last year only to disappoint. He makes his chasing debut.
"Winner Massagot won a big handicap hurdle at Ascot this time last year, but he cracked his pelvis two races later so we are looking forward to him returning to battle," said King on his website.
"He has been very good over fences and schooled on Monday, and it's a lovely track at which to start him off."