Newton Abbot Preview Monday 5 June
Cleni Wells went down by just half a length on his latest run at Newton Abbot on Tuesday and is fancied to land the £20,000 Totequadpot Insure Your Placepot Last Four Handicap Hurdle, the feature race at the course today, for Littlehempston trainer Martin Hill.
Conditional jockey Charlie Deutsch, who rode 25 winners last season, was on board Cleni Wells that evening, his second ride on the horse. The combination had clicked first time out when winning at Kempton Park in February, but a 10lb hike in the weights for that success has made life a little harder since.
Cleni Wells was only caught close home by Doubly Clever last time and should be up to winning from his current rating of 117, although this a very competitive contest in which all eight runners are in with a chance.
Top-weight Rossetti has won 14 races in all, including a host at Les Landes in Jersey where he was trained before joining Neil Mulholland. He loves this time of the year, but has never won from a handicap mark of 135 and has plenty to do here.
Golden Birthday looked like winning easily at Warwick, but a penultimate flight error nearly cost him the race and it took all of Noel Fehily’s strength and experience to get him home by half a length. He has been raised 6lbs for that success.
A field of 14 line up for the opening Toteplacepot Six Places In Six Races Handicap Hurdle, including Hija, who sprang an 80-1 surprise when scoring over the course on her debut over jumps for Moretonhampstead trainer Gail Haywood. It took Hija two years to follow up that win, taking a three-mile handicap at Taunton on her penultimate run.
She didn’t build on that success when well beaten at Worcester last time but, in an open-looking contest, could go close.
Paul Nicholls, who is looking to regain the champion trainer title from Nicky Henderson, has selected top-weight Alcala from his three entries in the Totepool Racecourse Debit Card Betting Available Chase. A winner at Ludlow in April, he finished last of three behind Opening Batsman and Gowanauthat at Fontwell Park on his latest start, but he was taking on experienced rivals there and should be more at home in today’s novice company.
The danger looks to be bottom-weight Royal Plaza, whose trainer Alan King is going great guns this season with 11 winners at a 38% strike rate, although he will need to step up on his chasing debut at Southwell when a blunder at the 12th fence didn’t help his cause.
Strollawaynow is an interesting runner in the long-distance handicap chase, returning to racing under Rules after an absence of 10 months, having run in point-to-points when trained by his owner Andrew Wates. He is now back with David Arbuthnot, for whom he won a novices’ race at Taunton in December 2014 off a rating of 114.
Strollawaynow comes into this race having won two of his last three outings between the flags and his current rating of 98 sees him line up receiving weight from five of his seven rivals. Topping the weights is Calin Du Brizais, who won by a neck here on Tuesday evening, but a 7lb penalty means that he races from a mark of 111 and he will need to improve from that run to score again.
The Henderson-trained Polly’s Pursuit has failed to add to her Lingfield Park bumper win in three outings since, but went close at Southwell on her latest run two weeks ago and, if settling better here, can open her account.
Despite topping the weights, the consistent Stynes, a course winner over hurdles on his debut for trainer Graeme McPherson 11 months ago, is the one to beat in the Totepool Betting On All UK Racing Handicap Chase. He was giving away 12lb in weight when beating rival Deauville Dancer last time at Worcester and is now better off, as the runner-up is penalised for his subsequent win at Huntingdon.
The biggest field of the afternoon lines up in the concluding conditional jockeys handicap hurdle, with 17 due to face the starter and, in another wide-open contest, Lake Chapala, who has been mixing chasing with hurdling, is taken to complete a four-timer with David Noonan.