|1pt win Cross The Flags in 14.40 Newbury at 8/1 (general).||Favourite is worth taking on and O'Neill's mare looks primed for a big run.|
|1pt win Benny Be Good in 15.40 Newbury at 11/1 (Paddy Power).||Newbury should suit this progressive chaser who has been given a chance by handicapper.|
The possibility of having to tip something up at Lingfield filled me with dread but thankfully that scenario has been avoided with a couple of the handicaps at Newbury on Saturday priced up early enough.
Firstly, the E.B.F. Ultima Business Solutions Mares' 'National Hunt' Novices' Hurdle Finale, a race that has been won by Nicky Henderson the last couple of years and he has claims again with Heather Royal and Native Beauty.
However, it could pay to concentrate on Jonjo O'Neill's CROSS THE FLAGS, a half-sister to Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Synchronised who looks sure to appreciate a strongly-run race at this sort of trip.
She absolutely bolted up last time at Ffos Las, so much so a 16lb hike in the weights doesn't convince as a stopper.
With Kentford Grey Lady in the field her price is a very much backable 8/1, and the favourite looks worth taking on.
No winner of this race has ever run at Cheltenham and Emma Lavelle's charge, who saddles top-weight here, had a tough race chasing home Quevega at the Festival.
While that's the best form on offer, it's probably a detriment to her chances that the race was only 10 days ago and she looks one to take on at the prices.
Cross The Flags has had a nice month off since her Ffos Las romp and while O'Neill doesn't often target this race, he did win it nine years ago with Ar Muin Na Muice.
Back Cross The Flags to strengthen his record in the contest.
The day's other bet comes in the Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase where I think it's worth backing BENNY BE GOOD at 11/1.
Keith Reveley's horse was dropped 5lbs by the handicapper after finishing a remote third in the Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster and I reckon that gives him a real chance here.
He's now only 2lbs higher than when he was a neck second to Qianshan Leader at Doncaster in November and the assessor might've been quick to presume his progression has come to a halt.
That Grimthorpe Chase run was only his 10th over fences with his career form figures over the bigger obstacles reading 6-1-2-3-UR-1-1-1-2-3.
The race at Doncaster last time was a strange one as Pentiffic went off like a hare before falling and Benny Be Good was taken off his feet a little on the turn for home where he made an error.
Strictly on the figures he won't reverse the form with Ikorodu Road as he gets an 8lb pull for 20 lengths but I've a feeling he can prove that last run all wrong.
He'll love the long straight at Newbury and I think there's a chance he could outclass these. Certainly, the 11/1 looks worth taking.