'There'll be no excuses' - Jonjo O'Neill on hot favourite Soaring Glory
Saturday: 2.25 Newbury
Ladbrokes Committed To Safer Gambling Intermediate Hurdle (Listed) | 2m½f | 4yo+ | ITV3/RTV
Soaring Glory beat a host of subsequent winners when landing the Betfair Hurdle over course and distance last season and a reproduction of that run would probably be good enough here.
This season's chase scorers Edwardstone and Annual Invictus were third and fourth, while in fifth was last Saturday's Ascot Hurdle winner Buzz and sixth was last month's Cheltenham winner Guard Your Dreams. Soaring Glory himself won a Listed handicap hurdle at Ascot on his reappearance last month.
When Soaring Glory wins, he usually wins in a good speed figure. He received a Topspeed of 133 for his Betfair Hurdle win and 136 at Ascot last time, so he is suited by races that are run in good times.
But what happens in small-field races that are run in slower times? Soaring Glory has had three runs in single-figure fields and his form figures read 234. That compares to figures of 111211 in completed races that featured at least ten runners. Only four run here.
It's possible you could point to the same concern for Gowel Road, who has yet to run in a single-figure field. However, he proved he can cope with a tactical affair when winning at Cheltenham last time. There may have been 11 runners there, but the Topspeed was just 75.
The reason that figure is so low is because they ambled for the majority of the race and the pace was steady. It only quickened coming down the hill and Gowel Road, who was being closed right to the line by favourite Unexpected Party, won the race with tactical speed.
The big question is whether Gowel Road will be just as effective in what is likely to be a tactical race over half a mile shorter? His Cheltenham run suggests he is equipped for it.
Onemorefortheroad also has the tools, having made all at a steady pace at Huntingdon last time, and is the likely leader. Last week's Ascot winner Captain Morgs completes the line-up.
Race analysis by Graeme Rodway
What they say
Jonjo O'Neill, trainer of Soaring Glory
He's in good form and we've had this race in mind for him for some time, so there'll be no excuses. He has top weight but he's a grand type and they have him to beat. He's a course-and-distance winner and has plenty going for him. Hopefully there won't be too much rain.
Sam Twiston-Davies, rider of Gowel Road
It looks a tight race. It was a tricky decision to run him as he won well over two and a half miles at Cheltenham last time and this is a drop back in trip, plus that was only a fortnight ago. It's a intermediate hurdle for last season's novices and it looks weak on paper, so we thought we had to give it a go. We'll look to races over further in the future but this looks a nice stepping stone.
Neil King, trainer of Onemorefortheroad
It's the next step up after his wins at Stratford and Huntingdon and we expect a Flat track like Newbury will play to his strengths. Hopefully the ground remains good as that'll help him further.
Nicky Henderson, trainer of Captain Morgs
He only won a week ago but he's in very good form and has been very chirpy all week. We're running him back a bit quick, but it's a good race with good prize-money and is a nice one for second-season novices. He's progressive and has no weight, so we figured we'd give it a go. He likes good ground and we need to take advantage of that while it's here.
Reporting by David Milnes
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