Talking Horses: Sadlier has quality to foil Champion Hurdle hopefuls

Newbury’s Challow Hurdle card on Tuesday is subject to a precautionary inspection at 8.30am but there are no concerns at Leopardstown where the Grade One Matheson Hurdle is the feature event on the final day of the Christmas meeting.

An up-to-scratch renewal has added interest after Epatante’s defeat at Kempton Park on Boxing Day and Abacadabras or Saint Roi, last season’s County Hurdle winner, could join or even unseat her at the top of the Champion Hurdle betting with an impressive success. Aspire Tower, who upset the odds-on Abacadabras at Down Royal in October, is also in the mix along with Sharjah, who is going for a hat-trick in this race.

With the Willie Mullins team in outstanding form, though, it could be worth chancing the fitness of Saldier (2.25) at around 10-1 as he returns from more than a year on the sidelines. He was made favourite for the Champion Hurdle after winning the Morgiana first time up in November 2019 and has a decent chance today on that form.

Leopardstown 1.15 Concertista took the Mares’ Novice Hurdle at Cheltenham in March, is the second-favourite for the Mares’ Hurdle back at the Festival next year and is an obvious favourite here, but her credentials could face a stern test from Black Tears. Gordon Elliott’s runner was second in the ultra-competitive Coral Cup in March and looked sure to find plenty of improvement for the run when third at Punchestown in November.

Newbury 1.30 The most interesting runner is Dickie Diver, who makes his chase debut 22 months after finishing 11 lengths fourth to Minella Indo in the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham. That was his third start under Rules and he is potentially a handicap blot, but that long absence – and Nicky Henderson’s iffy form – are concerns. He is up against some fit and firing opponents too, including Demachine, unbeaten in two starts over fences with more progress still to come.

Leopardstown 1.50 Monkfish, last season’s Albert Bartlett winner, cemented his place at the top of the market for the Festival’s three-mile novice chase with an impressive fencing debut at Fairyhouse in November. Latest Exhibition was just a neck behind him at Cheltenham but Monkfish, every inch a chaser, looks like the better long-term prospect.

Newbury 2.05 It is hard to rule out any of the seven runners here with confidence, and the smart Ch’Tibello is an eye-catcher dropping back to handicaps after several good runs in Graded company. Marginal preference, though, is for Ben Pauling’s The Cob, up just 5lb after a win in a strong time on his handicap debut at Haydock this month.

Newbury 2.40 Cuban Pete has shown improved form on his past two starts and won with plenty in hand at Hereford last time. This is much more competitive, but he is still quite lightly-raced for an eight-year-old and will appreciate every yard of the trip on the testing ground.

Leopardstown 3.00 Legacy Thor has his own ideas about the game and refused to race at Fairyhouse two runs ago. There was nothing wrong with his subsequent defeat of a big field at Navan, however, and while is not one for maximum faith, that is factored in to a price of around 6-1.

Quick Guide

Greg Wood’s Tuesday tips



11.40 Gipsy Rose Lee

12.12 C’Est Le Bonheur

12.47 Whiteoak Fleur

1.22 Eternally Yours

1.57 Elysian Flame

2.32 Lake Takapuna

3.07 Scoop The Pot


12.00 Dashing Perk

12.35 Flemcara

1.10 Major Dundee

1.45 Cut The Mustard

2.20 Asharann

2.55 Ronde De Nuit

3.30 Fast Buck


12.20 Mystic Dreamer

12.55 Gowel Road

1.30 De Machine

2.05 The Cob (nb)

2.40 Cuban Pete

3.15 Star Gate (nap)

3.45 Shanacoole Prince


 3.55 Native Silver

4.30 Exotic Escape

5.00 Restricted Area

5.30 A Pint Of Bear

6.00 Reaction Time

6.30 Giogiobbo

7.00 Gossip

Newbury 3.15 A fascinating renewal of the Grade One Challow Hurdle. Four of the six runners are unbeaten over timber this season and another – the overnight favourite, Bravemansgame – is two-from-three after a £370,000 transfer to the Paul Nicholls yard after a win in his only point-to-point. Any one of the five could win, but the unbeaten Star Gate has had two races under Rules and looked a top-class prospect when successful in a Grade Two at Sandown in early December.

Newbury 3.45 King D’Argent is an obvious favourite after a successful chasing debut off 114 at Warwick last time but an 11lb rise in the weights looks harsh. Shanacoole Prince, second on his first start over fences and with three races under Rules, could be a better option at around 5-1 for Kim Bailey and David Bass.


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