Honeyball to raid Newbury contest with two pronged attack
The feature at Newbury this afternoon is the Thoroughbred Breeders Association Mares' Novices' Chase and a duo look the likely ones
Seven go to post for the extended 2m 7f affair and TACENDA tops BTO+ ratings. Honeyball's charge is still plenty unexposed having only had four runs under rules and there should be more to come from her. The daughter of Flemensfirth finished third on her first two outings - first in a bumper at Ffos Las and then at Exeter on her chase debut. It proved third time lucky for Tacenda when she made her seasonal reappearance this term at Fontwell. Jockey Noel Fehily made virtually every stride on the five year old and she produced a battling and gritty performance to defeat TWO SWALLOWS by a couple lengths. After that success, Tacenda made the long trip north to Carlisle last time for the Listed Houghton Mares' Chase. She finished runner-up to Benie Des Dieux but that effort would have delighted her connections as Willie Mullins' charge looks a potential top-class mare. Tacenda should have learnt plenty from that effort and should improve at Newbury. Harry Cobden has been booked to ride and that looks a shrewd move as the young talent shows a 120% better than expected win rate at the course.
Honeyball also runs MS PARFOIS who could go off favourite for the race. The daughter of Mahler finished her novice career over timber by delivering an 11-length victory at Fontwell. Since being sent over the larger obstacles, Ms Parfois has had two runs. Her debut at Uttoxeter wasn't all that inspiring as she finished an 11-length third. However, the six year old greatly improved for that run and recorded a steely win at Cheltenham last month in the CF Roberts Electrical & Mechanical Services Mares' Handicap Chase. She was ridden handily by Fehily and Ms Parfois stayed on gamely up the hill to score by a length. Fehily has opted to ride the mare again rather than Tacenda which should be taken note of. Ms Parfois will relish the soft ground at the Berkshire venue as she shows a 164% better than expected strike rate on the going.
Two Swallows is open to plenty of improvement from her run at Fontwell last time out. The Kayf Tara mare was making her chase debut on that occasion and did brilliantly to finish second against some more experienced rivals. The run should have proved a valuable learning curve for the Ben Pauling-trained seven year old and she is second-best rated by BTO+ going into the Newbury showpiece. Pauling always means business when he runs horses at the Berkshire course,boasting a 134% better than expected win rate at the track.
Colin Tizzard has an important day at Kempton fast approaching on Boxing Day and a win for MORELLO ROYALE would help settle some pre-King George VI Chase nerves. Based on her hurdles form, the daughter of King's Theatre is much better than most of her rivals. However, she hasn't been able to make a smooth transition to larger obstacles as of yet and faces a tough task at Newbury.
HAPPY DIVA will more than likely give a good account of herself. In her past five runs, she's finished runner-up on four occasions and third in the other. Kerry Lee's charge is consistent and always runs her heart out, while she racked up a double last term so does know how to win. Jamie Moore rides and boasts a 30% better than expected strike rate at Newbury over the trip.
SURTEE DU BERLAIS has the highest official rating but that's because of her hurdles form. She was slammed by 33 lengths by Tacenda at Fontwell and will have to have progressed drastically from that run to flex her muscles successfully here.
TARA MIST won at Uttoxeter last time but today's affair is much stronger and she has to improve by several lengths being rating just 120 - the lowest of the field.