Midnight Tune out to defy top-weight as Newbury’s Jump season concludes tomorrow

Midnight Tune heads the weights for a hugely competitive renewal of the £40,000 G2 EBF & TBA Mares’ “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle Finale, the highlight of Newbury’s Be Wiser Jump Season Finale tomorrow, Saturday, March 24.

The EBF & TBA Mares’ “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle Finale (3.15pm, 16 runners) is a limited handicap run over an extended two and a half miles.

Midnight Tune (Anthony Honeyball/Aidan Coleman, 11st 10lb) has won three of her five starts so far this season and produced a career-best last time out to capture the G2 Jane Seymour Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle over two and a half miles on testing ground at Sandown Park on February 16.

Her trainer, Dorset-based Anthony Honeyball, said: “Midnight Tune is in good order. The key to her, certainly in better races like this, is the ground; the softer the better.

“There is some more rain around and, given the ground is already soft, it will be interesting to see how what the going looks like today at Newbury. The more attritional the better, as she stays three miles and loves heavy ground.

“Everything is in place for a big run, though my main concern is her weight, especially given the big weight range between top and bottom (11st 1olb to 10st 4lb). The handicaps at the Cheltenham Festival were condensed, whereas some of the opposition tomorrow are getting plenty of weight and are unexposed.

“I suppose if we are not in the first three or four, we go home disappointed, but equally you would not be surprised if she got run out of it close home. I think the ground could be a factor in that respect and the more testing it is, the better.

“The great thing about Sandown is that she proved she didn’t have to lead. She is very happy to sit in behind as long as they going a nice, even gallop. I would imagine it will pan out similar tomorrow.”

Champion Jump trainer Nicky Henderson, who has landed the spoils three times since 2010, saddles Sunshade (James Bowen (3), 11st 9lb), who is owned and bred by Her Majesty The Queen.

Sunshade won her first three starts under Rules, including hurdle races at Ludlow and Market Rasen, before finishing a distant third behind Maria’s Benefit in a Listed event at Taunton on December 30.

Paul Nicholls runs If You Say Run (Sam Twiston-Davies, 11st 7lb), who was second to Midnight Tune at Sandown Park most recently, while Nicholls’ former assistant Dan Skelton saddles the lightly-raced Roskana (Harry Skelton, 11st 5lb), an impressive winner at Plumpton and Fontwell Park this season.

Charlie Longsdon has won two of the last three runnings, including last year with Snow Leopardess. The Chipping Norton handler relies on Jet Set (Johnny Burke, 10st 9lb) who fell when in contention at Sandown Park on March 9.

Jamie Snowden has two interesting contenders in Kalahari Queen (11st 1lb, Gavin Sheehan) and Lostnfound (Micheal Nolan, 10st 4lb).

Others to note include Oscar Rose (Fergal O’Brien/Paddy Brennan, 10st 8lb), Lady Of Lamanver (Harry Fry/Noel Fehily, 11st), who finished second in this race in 2016, and the unexposed Petticoat Tails (Warren Greatrex/Richard Johnson, 10st 11lb).

The other £40,000 handicap on the card is the Be Wiser Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (2.40pm) over just shy of two miles and three furlongs. French import Oistrakh Le Noir (Ben Pauling/Daryl Jacob, 11st 9lb) looks to have strong claims after scoring nicely at Market Rasen last month.

The most valuable race of the afternoon is the £50,000 Goffs UK Spring Sales Bumper (5.00pm, 11 runners) over two miles. Past winners of this race include subsequent Ladbrokes Trophy hero Diamond Harry, who won back-to-back renewals in 2007 and 2008.

Trainer Harry Fry and owners Phil Fry and Charlie Walker combined successfully 12 months ago with Bullionaire. They are represented this time around by Wincanton scorer Caribert (Noel Fehily, 11st 7lb).

Alan King has won the race three times since 2009 and saddles three runners – Brigade Of Guards (Wayne Hutchinson, 10st 10lb), Mr Pumblechook (Tom Cannon, 10st 10lb) and the debutant Hotter Than Hell (Brendan Powell, 10st 3lb).

Grand National contender Seeyouatmidnight (Sandy Thomson/Danny Cook, 11st 12lb) travels down from Scotland to be top-weight in the £20,000 Doom Bar Handicap Chase (3.50pm, nine runners) over two and a half miles.

The 10-year-old has been off the track since contesting at handicap hurdle at Kelso in March, 2017, after which he had a wind operation.

He needs to run in a chase to be qualified for the Grand National, run over four and a quarter miles and 30 fences, at Aintree on April 14.

The Be Wiser Jump Season Finale starts today at Newbury, with the highlight being the £15,000 Be Wiser Insurance Handicap Hurdle (4.10pm,) over an extended two miles.

The going at Newbury is currently Soft.