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Lancashire Telegraph racing column
7:00am Saturday 8th February 2014 in Sport
Irish Saint may be an obvious choice in the Betfair Hurdle but he looks a worthy favourite with conditions to suit at Newbury.
Paul Nicholls’ charge bounced back to form in style at Ascot three weeks ago, landing a Grade Two event in facile fashion to draw a line under a couple of slightly frustrating efforts earlier in the campaign.
A Grade Two winner and Grade One-placed last year, Irish Saint returned with a whimper when falling in the Gerry Feilden at this track in November while his 12th in The Ladbroke at Ascot was nothing to write home about.
Given heavy ground in Berkshire last month though, Irish Saint laughed at his rivals as he powered home 11 lengths clear in what appeared to be a competitive heat.
The handicapper has seen fit to raise him to a mark of 152 subsequently, but he is able to run here off 145 which means he is technically 7lb well in and carries a fair degree of stable confidence.
A small each-way saver should also be invested on Chris Pea Green as he will love the ground and has been holding his own in some hot heats without troubling the winner this season.
Harry Topper thrives on just this kind of winter ground and looks the pick of a potentially trappy Betfair Denman Chase.
Perhaps Kim Bailey’s charge would not be the choice granted better conditions as Al Ferof is a classy performer, but a slog round will be just the ticket for him at this level.
Winner of the Charlie Hall at Wetherby earlier in the season, he let his supporters down when dropped to graduation company at Sandown before Christmas, trailing home in third behind the reopposing Vino Griego after some lacklustre fencing on ground that was possibly a bit too quick.
Returned to heavy conditions at Cheltenham, Harry Topper bounced back with a fine third in the Argento Chase, although once again some slipshod jumping cost him valuable lengths.
That said, he was giving weight all round and would have been a stone better off with the winner that day in a handicap so it was a creditable performance and a similar effort should see him in the frame.
Module can emerge triumphant from what is a sub-standard renewal of the Betfair Cash Out Chase, better known as the Game Spirit.
Tom George’s charge is favoured by the conditions of the race and showed over hurdles that he can handle deep ground - a factor which would be crucial.
Beaten just a head in the Haldon Gold Cup on his seasonal bow back in November, hopes were high that he could add to his tally with victory in the Peterborough Chase in December.
However, the two-and-a-half-mile trip that day appeared to stretch his stamina as he was beaten into fourth behind former champion chaser Riverside Theatre.
That was only the 10th start of his career, so he is hardly thoroughly exposed and dropping back to two miles and a furlong could prove an excellent decision.
Brick Red can claim top honours in the Star Sports Kingmaker Novices’ Chase at Warwick.
Venetia Williams’ charge has won two of his last three starts, demonstrating a particular affinity for heavy ground in the process.
He has a bit to find with a couple of his rivals here judged purely on the ratings, but Williams is obviously keen to plough on with her charge while conditions are in his favour.
An Arkle entry may prove to be aiming a little high, but Brick Red holds a decent chance in what is sure to be a testing heat.
Rivellino can reverse recent form with Perfect Pasture and snap that rival’s long winning run in the Compare Bookmakers At bookmakers.co.uk Handicap at Lingfield.
Perfect Pasture is unbeaten in his last six starts in a sequence that began off a mark of 57 at Hamilton last August.
But he now sits on a mark off 100 and that provides Rivellino with an ideal opportunity to avenge his two-length beating in a similar event at this track last month.
Rivellino was conceding 1lb to Perfect Pasture when he was beaten two lengths that day but will be in receipt of 6lb this time - a margin which surely puts him in the driving seat for Karl Burke.
Modernism can bring up a hat-trick in the Coral Mobile “Just Three Clicks To Bet” Handicap following two wins at Wolverhampton.
He has shot up 9lb from his first winning mark last month but showed a minor rise to be no problem when repelling Like A Diamond by just over a length on his last run.
Canon Law made a good start for David O’Meara when second on his debut for the yard and he can go one place better in the Download The Ladbrokes App Handicap at Wolverhampton.
Trained by Luca Cumani to win one of his five starts last year, he subsequently changed hands for 14,000 guineas at Tattersalls last October.
O’Meara then gave him a bit of time to settle in before taking the wraps off at Dunstall Park last month, where he finished a creditable second to Big Baz after trying to make all.
A mark of 74 looks perfectly workable at this stage.
LINGFIELD: 1.30 Waving, 2.00 Taquka, 2.35 Gregori, 3.10 Modernism, 3.45 Rivellino, 4.20 Mac’s Power, 4.50 Mbhali.
NAAS: 1.15 A Grey Matter, 1.45 Byerley Babe, 2.20 Nandos Well, 2.55 Page Turner, 3.30 Ludo Et Emergo, 4.05 Might Be Magic, 4.35 Milsean.
NEWBURY: 1.20 Calipto, 1.50 Pateese, 2.25 Harry Topper, 3.00 Module, 3.35 IRISH SAINT (NAP), 4.10 Sam Winner, 4.40 Thomas Brown.
WARWICK: 1.35 Tickity Bleue, 2.05 Glens Melody, 2.40 Brick Red, 3.15 Mr Moonshine, 3.50 He’s The Daddy, 4.25 Midnight Prayer, 4.55 Algernon Pazham.
WOLVERHAMPTON: 5.50 Cantor, 6.20 Do More Business, 6.50 Canon Law, 7.20 Caramack, 7.50 El Duque, 8.20 Montjen, 8.50 Volodina, 9.20 Mica Mika.
DOUBLE: Irish Saint and Module.