Newbury, Haydock & Taunton Tips for 30th December 2023

Result: £-0.50 Results for Newbury, Haydock & Taunton Tips for 30th December 2023

There’s little time to draw breath during the Christmas/New Year interval, as the National Hunt scene keeps the good times rolling at an unrelenting pace. Newbury tops the bill on the Saturday TV card, with a cracking renewal of the Challow Novices Hurdle providing the Grade 1 highlight, backed up by a compelling edition of the Mandarin Handicap Chase. Haydock chips in with a competitive contest for the stayers, with two events from Taunton rounding out the eight-race card.

Eight races on offer means eight opportunities to head into the New Year on the right note, and here, we pick out our best betting options in this week’s Saturday Racing Tips.

1:15 New ‘Bet-In-Race’ With Coral Handicap Chase

Class 3, 2m½f


A gentle start to proceedings, as a small field line up in this handicap affair. Dan Skelton’s Richhill (13/2) catches the eye, having taken a decent step forward last time out, but seems more likely to take up his engagement at Doncaster on Friday. Guy (9/2) boasts amongst the best form from this season, but top weight of 12st makes life tough, whilst this trip looks on the short side for Issar d’Airy (13/2).

The Russian Doyen (5/1) is the only course and distance winner in the field but is 10 years old now and remains on a higher mark than when second in the 2021 edition. By process of elimination, we suspect the market has this right in rating the Venetia Williams runner Martator (15/8) as the most likely winner. His second over track and trip last time out was comfortably his best effort of the season to date, he goes for a yard operating at a 32% strike rate over the past fortnight, and Williams has won this twice in the past three years. Having scored at Listed level during his time in France, a mark of 118 may underestimate his ability.

1:25 Betfred Last Fling Handicap Chase

Class 2, 3m4½f

East Street

The most gruelling event of the day up next, as the combination of a marathon 3m4½f trip and the notorious heavy ground at Haydock place extreme stamina demands on the six-runner field. Jonjo O’Neill’s Collectors Item (2/1) heads the betting on the back of a staying-on fourth over 3m at Sandown last time. That’s solid form, but he looks short enough for a horse yet to run over this trip or on heavy ground.

Rated in the 140s in the past, the Nigel Twiston-Davies runner Fantastikas (5/1) is dangerously well-handicapped now down to 124 but hasn’t looked to be in love with these slog-like races in the past. The enigmatic but stamina-laden Fortrescue (9/2) is more interesting, but carrying top-weight of 12st in these conditions may prove too tall an order.

The one to be on is East Street (9/2) from the yard of Sue Smith. Boasting form figures of 312 on heavy ground, he is yet to run over this far, but his past two outings strongly suggest the step up in trip may bring about further improvement. Getting up late to score at Wetherby over 3m, his late withering run then failed by just a neck at Newcastle. That was still a fine effort under 12st, and his 10st10lb burden here looks far more manageable in what is likely to prove a war of attrition.

1:50 Coral Racing Club Join For Free Handicap Hurdle

Class 2, 2m4½f

Rambo T

Eight of the past 10 editions of this have fallen to a five-year-old. As the only five-year-old in the field, the Paul Nicholls-trained Irish Hill (5/1) is the obvious pick for trends fans. However, the form book would suggest he has a lot of work to do if he is to turn the tables with Get A Tonic (2/1), who beat him by 28 lengths over this course and distance last time out. Having been beaten by over 17 lengths in each of his last four runs, the application of first-time blinkers isn’t enough to persuade us that he is about to bounce back to form.

Get A Tonic is hard to fault under an 8lb penalty, but at three times the price, the horse we like is Olly Murphy’s Rambo T (13/2). This one ran a cracker in a solid event over this trip at Cheltenham two starts back, when rallying for third despite being badly hampered at the last. The 3m distance and early errors found him wanting last time out, but back down to a more suitable trip off an unchanged mark of 123, he can go close under James Bowen.

2:10 Byerley Stud Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle

Listed, 2m½f

Casa No Mento

Six go to post in this Listed event for the mares, but the market suggests this may turn into a head-to-head battle between Queen’s Gamble (Evs) and Casa No Mento (2/1). On the limited hurdles form available, it is hard to argue with that assessment, although Paul Nicholls’ Larchmont Lass (10/1) has solid bumper form in the book and could prove dangerous if able to sort her jumping out.

Whilst we agree that the winner is most likely to come from the two fancied contenders, we aren’t so sure that they are the right way around in the market. Casa No Mento is 6lbs clear of Queens Gamble on official ratings, giving her a significant theoretical edge in this level weights affair. She has also done very little wrong at the track in landing her two outings over hurdles by a combined 21 lengths. This contest was put forward as her big target following her recent romp at Hereford, and this speedy sort can hit the mark for team Twiston-Davies.

2:25 Coral Mandarin Handicap Chase

Class 3, 3m2f

Shanty Alley EW

The headline handicap of the day provides a more friendly field for each way punters, with 12 set to line up. Surrey Quest (5/1) tops the market, having made a flying start to life at the Toby Lawes yard when bolting up at Huntingdon in October. An 8lb rise won’t make life easy, but he has had a wind-op since, and there may be more to come. Atlanta Brave (6/1) looks the sort to be suited by this step up in trip and is another to note from towards the head of the betting, as is Laskalin (7/1) from the red-hot Venetia Williams yard.

However, it is an each-way punt for us here, with Striking A Pose (18/1) and Shanty Alley (9/1) the two to catch our eye. Having been rated as high as 135 in the past, Striking A Pose is now down to 113 and hinted at a return to form on his first start since a wind op last time. However, we just prefer the claims of Shanty Alley. The Ben Case-trained nine-year-old went down by just ¾l in the 2022 edition of this and gets in off a 5lb lower mark this time. A recent spin around Catterick should have blown away the cobwebs, and the mount of Jack Quinlan looks good value to hit the frame once again.

2:45 Racing TV 100% Profits Back To Racing Handicap Hurdle

Class 3, 3m


A tight little handicap rounds out the action from Taunton. Harry Derham’s Game Winner (9/4) heads the betting but is only 1lb lower than when beaten seven lengths into fourth in a weaker event at this track last time out and will need to find improvement for the first-time cheekpieces. Fergal O’Brien’s Hurricane Harvey (11/2) is a solid yardstick in this sort of race and should run well but may prove vulnerable off top weight.

The one we like best here is the Phillip Hobbs & Johnson White-trained six-year-old Ballydisco (11/2). His most recent effort on this sort of ground over this sort of trip resulted in a strong staying success at Chepstow on his final start of last season. He’s 5lb higher here but may find more in the first-time headgear. In need of the outing on his seasonal return, nothing then went right when his saddle slipped back at Chepstow on his last run. Those outings should at least have improved his fitness, and, back under ideal conditions, he can stay on best of all.

3:00 Coral Challow Novices’ Hurdle

Grade 1, 2m4½f


Having landed the past three editions with Hermes Allen, Stage Star, and Bravemansgame, Paul Nicholls bids for a fourth successive Challow success. Flying the flag for team Ditcheat in 2023 are Champion Bumper third Captain Teague (7/2) and the four-timer seeking Farnoge (11/1). Nicholls was hard on Harry Cobden following Captain Teague’s defeat in a Grade 2 at Cheltenham last time out, and we would expect more positive tactics to be employed this time. Clearly held in high regard, he shouldn’t be far away but may be seen to best effect over further. Farnoge, meanwhile, has done nothing wrong and looks like a solid option for each way players.

Nicky Henderson’s Willmount (2/1) falls into the could-be-anything category but is short enough on what he has achieved, with the form of his recent win let down by those who finished behind. The one we like best is the unbeaten Johnnywho (4/1) from the yard of Jonjo O’Neill. An impressive winner of an Irish Point, he has taken to hurdles like a duck to water and looked a horse with Graded potential when winning as he liked at Carlisle. Boasting a high-cruising speed and push-button acceleration, he is fancied to have too many guns in the straight.

3:35 Coral Get Closer To The Action Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase

Class 3, 2m6½f

Walking On Air

The closing handicap of the day is a wide-open affair, with the top four in the market all priced between 7/2 and 9/2. Passing Well (4/1) appeals as one of only two last-time-out winners in the field but is up in the weights in a hotter race and looks no more than fairly handicapped. Course winner Ballycamus (9/2) scored nicely at Chepstow earlier in the month, but with all wins under rules coming on soft or worse going, he may need the rain to arrive.

Golden Son (9/2) was one of the more highly touted recruits to the Paul Nicholls yard heading into the season but ran as though something was amiss when pulled up last time. He may bounce back, but the most solid option is Walking On Air (7/2). Nicky Henderson’s yard is now really beginning to move through the gears, and this one gets in off the same mark as when an excellent fifth in the ultra-competitive Pertemps Network Final at the Cheltenham Festival. Still lightly raced, he’s a perfect one-for-one at the track, a winner over the distance, and ideally suited by good to soft going. That combination represents the most compelling overall package, and he looks excellent value here.