FOR RACING fans, this weekend always has that feeling of after the Lord Mayors show. Cheltenham is so all-encompassing that for the past three months it is pretty much all anyone talks about.
Last weeks Festival, as is often the case, had its share of highs and lows.
A slightly subdued opening day was followed by the brilliant Altior winning his 18th straight race in Wednesdays Betway Champion Chase.
But it was Thursday which really shone thanks to Frodon, Bryony Frost, Paisley Park and Andrew Gemmell.
The fatal injury suffered by Sir Erec in Fridays Triumph Hurdle was desperately sad, yet later on there was a genuine feeling of happiness for Willie Mullins after Al Boum Photo gave him his first Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup.
There is nothing quite like those four days in the Cotswolds, but we have Aintree and the Grand National to look forward to in a couple of weeks, so it is understandable things are bit quieter this weekend.
Im going to concentrate on Newbury and the first race to look at is the Be Wiser Insurance Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (2.40pm).
Paul Nicholls had a good week at Cheltenham thanks to high profile successes with Topofthegame in the RSA Chase and Frodon in the Ryanair Chase.
That has left him in a very strong position as he tries to claw back his champion trainer title from Nicky Henderson.
He was typically bullish going into the meeting and one of his main fancies was Friend Or Foe in the Boodles Juvenile Hurdle, but he narrowly missed the cut.
Nicholls will be going anywhere and everywhere to pick up prize money over the next few weeks and this son of Walk In The Park is entered in this and at Kelso.
I would be surprised if he doesnt run at Newbury and even though he is going to be hard to beat, he is already pretty short in the market.
Alan King has long had this race in mind for ELYSEES, mentioning it as a target way back in November.
The lack of rain in the forecast is a big bonus as this Champs Elysees gelding needs a sound surface which he will get after a few drying days.
A two-time winner over hurdles this season, he was beaten just a neck by Quel Destin at Doncaster in December and that one was sent off just 4/1 when finishing fifth in last weeks Triumph Hurdle.
A recent pipe-opener on the all-weather will have blown the cobwebs away and with Kings horses in great form, he looks the each-way bet at 7/1.
The opening Insure With Be Wiser Handicap Chase (2.05pm) doesnt look the greatest of races and Im going to take a flyer on CHIC NAME at 10/1.
This 3m2f trip could be a little short for Richard Hobsons seven-year-old, but his last two wins have come in the spring, including in a three-mile novices limited handicap chase at this meeting two years ago.
He was fifth to Tiger Roll in last years Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase and although he hasnt been in the best of form so far this season, he has dropped in the weights.
Now below his last winning mark, Hobson has also gone to the trouble of booking excellent 5lb claiming jockey Jonjo ONeill Jnr, so all looks set for a good run.
Dan and Harry Skelton had a fantastic Festival and they can team up to land the EBF Mares Hurdle Final (3.15pm) with ETAMINE DU COCHET who can be backed at 7/1 with Coral.
They won this prize 12 months ago with Roksana, who followedRead More