Turf Talk ‑ Testing times ahead at Newcastle and Chepstow

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RACING on Saturday will provide a real test, with cards at Newcastle and Chepstow, where the severity of their trademark stiff finishes will be severely increased because of the anticipated heavy going.

There is also racing from Kempton Park, with The Adonis Hurdle and the Racing Plus Chase being the highlights.

Kempton have had to tweak Saturday’s card due to some rearranged races. They have the Grade 2 Adonis Hurdle as well as the Grade 2 Dovecote Novices Hurdle. My focus will be the Racing Plus Chase, won last year by Quinz for the Phillip Hobbs yard, and they have a strong chance once more with ante post favourite Planet of Sound.

Three miles on a flat track usually means Nacarat is there or thereabouts, and although he should run into a place, it is hard to see him winning. The Tizzard stable had five wins inside an hour last Saturday and their runners Cannington Brook and Mount Oscar have to be respected. Deep Purple looks a classy sort off top weight, but I feel he stays all day and would want further ultimately. By process of elimination the answer could lie with FRUITY O’ ROONEY for the in-form Gary Moore yard.

He won a Class 3 handicap chase over course and distance on December 27, meeting trouble in jumping throughout but still beating subsequent winner Midnight Appeal by four lengths. He followed up that win with a good third in the Great Yorkshire Chase behind potential Grand National horses Calgary Bay and Shakalakaboomboom. That was a fair effort and he could be a terrific each way price come the day.

The Betfred Eider Chase is a gruelling four miles and promises to test the stamina of the most hardened stayer. Horses generally need to have won over 3 ½ miles previous, and recent four miles Kelso winner EYRE SQUARE ticks all the boxes. His win in the Borders National was mightily impressive and, on softish ground, highlighted his versatility. He was given too much to do when dropping down to 3 miles in another handicap chase, when up 5lb, and jockey James Reveley can make amends here. The Ferdy Murphy trained Negus De Beaumont and Peter Niven trained Posh Bird are dangers.

AP McCoy opts to ride at Chepstow rather than Newcastle and Kempton and he has two strong chances. The first is TEAFORTHREE who has shown glimpses of class, resulting in an official rating of 146. His novice chase win on heavy ground over course and distance has led to him being aimed at the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham, and the drop down in grade from the Feltham Chase at Kempton should provide him with a nice prep run in the build up to that.

McCoy’s other possibility is CHESTNUT BEN, who looks to put aside a disappointing run when unseating last time out. Prior to that he had won a good two mile handicap chase at Hereford by six lengths, on soft ground, in eye-catching fashion. Providing he has a clean round, he should go very close on a workable mark.

3.05 (Kempton) Fruity O’ Rooney (Ew)

3.25 (Newcastle) Eyre Square (Ew)

2.40 (Chepstow) Teaforthree (Nap)

4.55 (Chepstow) Chestnut Ben