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Aug 06, 2018

Newton Abbot Racecourse Preview Monday 6 August 2018

Newton Abbot is the scene for the latest round in what is becoming a fascinating duel for this season’s jockeys’ championship, as leader Harry Skelton and reigning champion Richard Johnson both look to add to their scores ahead of the summer jumps programme short break which starts tomorrow.

Skelton went into yesterday afternoon’s meeting at Market Rasen with a lead of 26 over the three-time champion and the position remained the same at the end of the day, as they landed a winner apiece. Whilst Johnson has been winning on a commendable 18% of his mounts, Skelton is achieving a phenomenal 34% strike rate which has catapulted him to the top of the table.

They go head-to-head in the opening Actuate Marketing Handicap Hurdle over two and three-quarter miles with Skelton on Bold Image, who will be reappearing after wind surgery and having his first run for Warwickshire trainer Dan Skelton, who has provided all but one of brother’s winners.

Johnson is on Baily Sunset, another who has had a change of stables, moving from John Joseph Hanlon in Ireland to Warren Greatrex at Upper Lambourn but, with his sole victory coming two years ago at Kilbeggan from a rating of 86, it is difficult to see him winning from a mark of 92 today.

Angel Of Harlem was beaten last time out by Mister Fizz but, with the winner landing a Class 3 event here last week in impressive style, that form looks strong and Olly Murphy’s runner should be in with a good chance, as should Johnny Farrelly’s Western Sunrise, who deserves a change of fortune after a last flight error cost her a winning chance against Mr Mafia at the course a month ago.

Just four have been declared for the Handicap Chase over an extended two miles, including Amalfi Doug, who was one of four runners withdrawn by Dan Skelton at last week’s meeting because of the soft ground.

Amalfi Doug was last seen out when well down the field at Stratford in April, but he wouldn’t be the first horse to benefit from a move to the Skelton academy and could be well-handicapped. Although still to win, he has a couple of bits of form over hurdles to suggest he has a race in him.

However, he could face a real challenge from course regular No No Cardinal, who was beaten by another Skelton runner in King’s Reste last time. The winner has scored again from a 5lb higher mark and, with No No Cardinal being dropped to a new rating of 81, he has been given a chance by the handicapper to record his first win in 13 months.

Yensir has gone from strength to strength since moving from Grant Tuer to the Olly Murphy stable in January. A couple of runs on the all-weather were followed by a promising debut third over hurdles at Ludlow and he showed the benefit of that experience when opening his account at Fakenham. Two more wins have followed, meaning that he carries the maximum penalty in the Racing Partnership Novices’ Hurdle.

There is nothing between him and dual winner Drovers Lane on official ratings and the two should fight out the finish, with Yensir chosen to vindicate trainer Murphy’s decision to stick to hurdles rather than go for the following chase and give Johnson another winner.

Sword Of Fate has been given a bit of a break since winning two races in a week last month, beating Capeland over course and distance on the second of them. Experienced amateur Tommie O’Brien again has the ride in the Racing Partnership TRP Novices’ Chase and it will take a good horse to get past them, with Colin Tizzard’s Drinks Interval, who defeated another of today’s runners The Unit last month, the likely danger.

There should be plenty lining up to meet Tizzard, who will be at the coure signing memorabilia of his three popular horses, Cue Card, Thistlecrack and Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Native River.

David Pipe had the hat-trick seeking Celestial Path entered at Perth and Stratford last week, but lets him take his chance in the Racegoers Club 50th Anniversary Handicap Hurdle over two miles and one furlong.

Skelton should be on the scoresheet again with Massini’s Lady, who makes a quick reappearance under a 7lb penalty after winning at Stratford on Thursday in the Newtonabbotrace On Twitter Handicap Chase, before Johnson can hit back with another winner courtesy of debutant Chapel Rock in the concluding Attheraces Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race.

Racing starts at 14.20 and gates open at 12.20. Tickets can be bought at the gaets on the day.