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All the action from Newton Abbot today

Newton Abbot holds a competitive six race card with a couple of standout performers in the first two contests which kick-start the meeting. In the first race, Tom George saddles Seven Nation Army in the maiden hurdle and he bids to get off the mark over hurdles at the fourth attempt having bumped into the likes of Clean Sheet, One For The Guv’Nr and Sirabad, all above average performers over hurdles and this represents a good opportunity to get his first success over hurdles. The main danger in that contest looks to be Pengo’s Boy who showed some very useful bumper form including when seventh behind Supasundae in a Listed bumper at Ascot before Christmas which incidentally was won by Seven Nation Army last year.

Venetia Williams holds a strong chance in the second race with the progressive Otago Trail who brings the strongest form to the race including two runaway successes at Carlisle and Wincanton. He wasn’t disgraced last time in a strong novice contest at Ascot when third to Thistlecrack. If handling the drying ground and the step up in distance then he is by far and away the best horse in the race. The main competition looks to come from Earthmoves who needs to bounce back from a disappointing effort last time at Wincanton but the drying ground should bring about improvement for this half brother of Ptit Zig and Drumlee Lad, who has moved to David Pipe after being purchased by Roger Brookhouse.

The staying handicap chase features the father/son combination of Peter and Sean Bowen teaming up with likely favourite Velator, who showed much more improved form on his last start at Kelso behind William Money and a repeat of that should see him go close. Others to consider include former Cheltenham Festival winner Golden Chieftain, who looked earlier in the season as though he could pick up a decent prize but has gone the wrong way since falling at the first in the Badger Ales at Wincanton, and Achimota, who won at Bangor last time out but races off a career high mark.

There is a wide open betting market in the two mile one furlong handicap hurdle, with Don’t Call Me Oscar going for the four timer and, with Paul John claiming seven, he runs off officially a lower mark than when winning last time out although Tom Bellamy’s claim would have cancelled some of that out. Kapstadt was disappointing on handicap debut but the drying ground should be in his favour and he could go well for Ian Williams and Richard Johnson.

Brody Bleu drops down in distance in the two mile five furlong handicap chase, after looking not to see out three miles round Kempton after travelling well throughout that particular race. Olympian Boy has mixed chasing and hurdling but returns chasing here and would hold solid claims back on a sounder surface whilst Ballyegan goes for the hat-trick after two victories at Taunton. The step back up in trip won’t be a disadvantage for him.

The final race on the card sees Black Narcissus return after an unbelievable success last time at Exeter where she made up plenty of late ground after the leaders stopped in front. If she resents to start then she has a big chance with the step up in distance looking a positive. The favourite, though, is Giveitachance for Nick Scholfield and Claire Dyson, who appreciates a stamina test and will appreciate the drying ground.