Grand National runner-up Magic Of Light returns to Newbury for the Listed mares’ chase she won last year over an extended 2m 7f and cannot be opposed this Wednesday (13:55).
Trained by Jessica Harrington for the late Alan and Ann Potts, this eight-year-old had a fine campaign last season.
After scoring in a Grade B mares’ handicap chase at the 2018 Punchestown Festival, Magic Of Light was a running on third in the Troytown on reappearance.
She resumed winning ways over course and distance here 12 months ago when a commanding 14 lengths victor over the re-opposing Drinks Interval.
As the pair meet again off exactly the same terms, there is no reason why Magic Of Light shouldn’t confirm the form.
The daughter of Flemensfirth is also rated a 21lb better chaser than when last at Newbury.
Magic Of Light even plundered the valuable Grade 2 Warfield Mares’ Hurdle at Ascot over the smaller obstacles next time up when staying on strongly to win by 3 1/4 lengths.
Although then beaten a length in a Listed chase at Huntingdon after that, she was quickly turned out.
The winner, Happy Diva, has since come out and won the Grade 3 BetVictor Gold Cup – an ultra-competitive handicap chase at Cheltenham.
Clear and obvious form claims
As Magic of Light was giving her 4lb on a flat track over a sharp trip, defeat was no disgrace.
The form is also solid as, although she didn’t fire in the Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse or in the Ultima at the Cheltenham, she ran the race of her life in the National.
Magic Of Light belied odds of 66/1 to chase home Aintree legend Tiger Roll.
She was upsides the dual Grand National hero at the last when pecking on landing, but still kept on gamely to be beaten 2 3/4 lengths. It was a massive effort by a completely unfancied runner.
Magic Of Light wasn’t knocked about on her return to action over hurdles when a distant third to subsequent Hatton’s Grace runner-up Bacardys in the Grade 2 Lismullen Hurdle at Navan.
Now eased in grade, and with 20lbs and upwards in hand on her three rivals off these terms, she simply cannot be opposed.
Robbie Power is again on board on what could be a good day for him at Newbury.
Taking all that into account, Magic Of Light is a worthy 30/100 favourite with Betway to land back-to-back runnings of this contest.
On all known form, the opposition is playing for second place.
Side with Shishkin on hurdles debut at Newbury
In-form trainer Nicky Henderson unleashes smart prospect Shishkin in the extended 2m maiden hurdle earlier on the card (12:50).
This five-year-old won the second of his two Irish points before joining the Seven Barrows handler.
Shishkin was an easy eight-length winner at Lingstown in the Emerald Isle and won by a similar margin on his bow for Henderson in a Kempton bumper in March.
That does not tell the full story, however. The son of Sholokhov made virtually all and was clear approaching the two marker.
Such was his lead that jockey Nico de Boinville eased Shishkin down in the final furlong.
It was a very impressive debut under Rules and marked him out as a horse to follow over hurdles this season.
Shishkin did take a keen hold at Kempton and is now in a large field of 21 for the first time, but clearly an above average sort.
Henderson starts many of his best prospects off at Newbury, so it’s no surprise to see this one lining up here.
With both trainer and jockey operating at about a 30 per cent strike rate in the last 14 days at the time of writing, this looks like a good opening Shishkin to make a winning start to his career over timber.
He does face some unraced horses here, but a repeat of his bumper performance should be more than good enough to land the spoils. Shishkin’s odds of 4/7 with Bethard reflect that.
The Big Breakaway fancied to follow-up
Irish jockey Power has strong claims of a quick-fire double on this Newbury card courtesy of The Big Breakaway in the extended 2m 4f novice hurdle (14:25).
Trained by Colin Tizzard, this four-year-old cruised to success on his Rules bow at Chepstow last month.
Prior to that, The Big Breakaway kept on well to land a Quakerstown point in Ireland by 10 lengths.
This Getaway gelding who could well come into his own when seny chasing then moved to Team Tizzard.
A taking debut win for the yard in Wales saw The Big Breakaway track the leaders to go second after three out.
He was soon upsides and led approaching the last, before going eight lengths clear of Blackjack Kentucky for a comfortable success.
The Big Breakaway lacked the runner-up’s racecourse experience and has the potential to be graded class.
Although in under a penalty here, he should be winning this if he is to further demonstrate his claims. There is plenty more scope for further improvement too.
Fellow previous winner I K Brunel didn’t follow-up on his own maiden hurdle success and doesn’t get the quicker going trainer Olly Murphy feels he needs at Newbury.
Despite the presence of Market Rasen bumper winner Craigneiche for Henderson and the Jonjo O’Neill trained Papa Tango Charly, The Big Breakaway looks the one to be on at 8/15 with Betfred for this hurdles contest.