Simon Holt struck with Main Fact at Haydock on Saturday and he's back for more with a 12/1 shot fancied in the feature on day one of Newbury's Winter Festival.
Recommended Bets: November 27
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As so often at this time of the year, trainer Venetia Williams is beginning to strike form and, after three winners on Wednesday, the signs are good for CEPAGE in a bid to make a winning reappearance under top weight in the Get Your Ladbrokes £1 Free Bet Today Handicap Chase at Newbury on Friday.
The eight-year-old is one of the best horses in his shrewd handler's Herefordshire yard, and boasts a good record fresh having chased home Frodon on his only start in the 2018/19 campaign at Cheltenham (good ground) before finishing second to the smart Riders On The Storm first time out at Aintree (soft) a year ago.
Subsequent events have shown that Cepage was attempting mission impossible in trying to concede the winner 7lb that day, but he ran a fantastic race and finished 12 lengths clear of third-placed Old Grangewood who is now 3lb worse off.
He also ran well on his seasonal debut in 2017 when narrowly beaten by Sir Valentine at Ascot and, back in December, 2016, made a successful debut in this country (after two wins in France) in a two-mile chase on this course.
Later on last season, Charlie Deutsch's mount gained a deserved victory at Cheltenham, beating solid yardsticks in Spiritofthegames and Lalor off a mark of 154 and, just 1lb higher in the ratings here, he looks sure to make a bold show from his usual prominent racing position with the unusually dry ground at this meeting unlikely to be a problem.
Later on, there will be much interest in the reappearance of 2019 Stayers Hurdle winner Paisley Park in the Ladbrokes Long Distance Hurdle on his first start since performing disappointingly at odds-on in defence of his title last March.
A heart problem was the likely reason for that unusually below-par effort which came after victories in this race and in the Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham where he beat the re-opposing Summerville Boy and Lisnagar Oscar.
At his best, and on official ratings, Paisley Park has a clear chance and won't mind the ground, but the stayers division looks wide open and it may be worth taking a chance on HONEST VIC proving that an effortless victory in a handicap hurdle at Cheltenham on his first try at three miles last month was no fluke.
While a bit quirky at times, Henry Daly's gelding has always shown plenty of ability and won twice last season before finishing fifth in the Coral Cup (2m5f) at the Festival in March.
Up in trip, Honest Vic's reappearance win was a revelation as he sauntered clear of Lock's Corner (a winner before and since) on ground very similar to the likely conditions at Newbury.
Even with a 9lb rise in the ratings, he still has it to do against this opposition but may have further potential now and, if in the same mood, he could just produce a surprise effort under the talented Richard Patrick.
At Doncaster, CRACKING FIND is fancied to return to winning form in the Follow At The Races on Twitter Handicap Chase.
It's fair to say that Sue Smith's nine-year-old was very subdued in four starts last season but, following an absence, he has shown signs of a revival in two recent appearances finishing third at Wetherby last time having earlier unseated Ryan Mania when holding the same position on the same course (over this trip) in a race which is working out well.
After taking advantage of a big weight concession from the smart Forest Bihan on this course over two miles in January, 2019, Cracking Find earned a rating of 136 whereas he can race here off a stone less and, with Smith sending out Joke Dancer to win at Wetherby on Wednesday, a big run could well be on the cards receiving weight from all but one of his rivals and over a distance at which he has scored three times in the past.
Posted at 1635 GMT on 26/11/20
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