Saint Calvados going for back-to-back successes as Newbury’s action gets underway for 2018

Newbury Racecourse stages its first fixture of 2018 tomorrow, Wednesday, January 17, with a fascinating six-race programme on Betfred Day.

Betfred Day is the first of 29 racedays at Newbury in 2018, with record prize money of over £5 million on offer during the next 12 months.

The two richest races tomorrow are the Betfred Mobile Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase (2.25pm, four runners) over an extended two miles and the Betfred Treble Odds On All Lucky 15s Handicap Chase (3.00pm, 10 runners), which takes place over just short of three miles. Both contests are worth £12,700.

Impressive French recruit Saint Calvados (Harry Whittington/Aidan Coleman, 11st 8lb) bids to make it two from two on these shores in the Betfred Mobile Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase.

The Andrew Brooks-owned five-year-old jumped soundly on his chasing debut as he defeated Remiluc by nine lengths in a novices’ handicap chase over tomorrow’s course and distance on December 30.

Saint Calvados’ three opponents include Jameson (Nigel Twiston-Davies/Sam Twiston-Davies, 11st 5lb), who was narrowly denied by Oldgrangewood in a valuable two and a half mile handicap chase at the Ladbrokes Winter Carnival, and recent Ludlow scorer Tree Of Liberty (Kerry Lee/Jamie Moore, 11st 2lb).

Trainer Harry Whittington said today: “Saint Calvados won nicely at Newbury last time and has come out of it well. He shows us a lot of ability at home and we hold him in high regard.

“We thought it would be good to take in another one of these races before going up in class. He got a 4lb rise (in the ratings) and hopefully can defy that.

“At the moment, we are happy to keep him at two miles as he shows lots of speed.

“In time, he will probably improve when he goes up to two and a half, although we will keep that up our sleeve for now and just take each race as it comes.”

War Sound (Philip Hobbs/Richard Johnson, 10st 13lb), winner of the G3 Swinton Handicap Hurdle in 2015, completes the field after chasing home talented novices Brain Power and Rather Be on his last two starts.

The Betfred Treble Odds On All Lucky 15s Handicap Chase is a qualifier for the £50,000 Challenger Staying Chase Series Final, staged at Haydock Park on Easter Saturday, March 31. Horses need to finish in the first eight tomorrow to qualify for the Haydock Park contest.

Killala Quay (Charlie Longsdon/Richard Johnson, 11st 12lb), a G2 winner as a novice in 2016, heads the weights and was last seen out when a staying-on fourth at Doncaster on December 16.

Other prominent contenders include the J P McManus-owned Kimberlite Candy (Tom Lacey/Barry Geraghty, 11st 11lb), successful last time out at Market Rasen on Boxing Day plus Millanisi Boy (Richard Woollacott/Micheal Nolan, 11st 6lb) and Indy Five (David Dennis/Noel Fehily, 11st 5lb), who were both winners on their latest appearance.

An intriguing contender tomorrow is OK Corral (Nicky Henderson/Barry Geraghty), also owned by J P McManus, who is one of 14 runners in the Betfred Home Of Goals Galore Novices’ Hurdle (1.50pm) over two miles.

The lightly-raced eight-year-old chased home subsequent multiple G1 winner Yorkhill in a bumper at Punchestown in 2015 and was the easy winner of a novices’ hurdle on his only subsequent appearance at Kempton Park in May, 2017.

Action on Betfred Day gets underway at 1.20pm with the Betfred Supports Jack Berry House Handicap Hurdle (12 runners) over two miles and runs through to 4.05pm with the Betfred Like Us On Facebook Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race (11 runners), also over two miles.

Following Betfred Day, the next action at Newbury is Betfair Super Saturday on February 10, which boasts a tremendous seven-race programme and over £300,000 in prize money.

The highlights on Betfair Super Saturday are the £155,000 Betfair Hurdle, Britain’s richest handicap hurdle, the £50,000 G2 Betfair Denman Chase, a leading trial for the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the £50,000 G2 Betfair Exchange Chase over an extended two miles, won by the Nicky Henderson-trained superstars Sprinter Sacre and Altior in recent years.