Newbury's leap year’s day meeting: will Bennys King rule - on a day when anything can happen?
Trainer Dan Skelton hopes he has found the right horse in Bennys King to secure his first win in the William Hill Supporting Greatwood Gold Cup and deny his former boss Paul Nicholls a tenth success in the race at Newbury on Saturday (February 29).
Bennys King, owned by the Mezzone family, won the Sir Peter O’Sullevan Memorial Chase over the same course in November and was beaten a neck at Ascot on his latest start last month.
He features among 24 entries for the £50,000 Grade 3 handicap chase, in which champion jumps trainer Nicholls has included last year’s winner San Benedeto alongside Secret Investor and Mont Des Avaloirs.
The 2m4f William Hill Supporting Greatwood Gold Cup is the last Class 1 chase before the Cheltenham Festival and an ideal prize for horses not expected to line-up at the meeting.
Skelton says Bennys King will definitely run: "He won at the Ladbrokes Winter Festival, then he ran well at Ascot. I think this track is perfect and a bit of soft ground over the trip won’t be a problem."
“He is quite high in the weights, but that’s because he has gone up, but I would have to give him a chance because we have trained him specifically for it.”
Skelton spent nine years as assistant to Nicholls where he gained first-hand knowledge of the type of horse required, before he branched out on his own in 2013: “Paul used to win the race every year and if he didn’t win it he would win it the year after.”
“The William Hill Supporting Greatwood Gold Cup is a good race for horses that aren’t going to Cheltenham and we never really were going to Cheltenham with Bennys King. It fits in well, it’s graded and is worth a few quid so we will crack on and give it a go.”
There's probably an evens bet on some strange happenings at Newbury's leap year meeting. With an extra day in 2020, Newbury Racecourse is offering the perfect way to spend this leap day.
The Greatwood ‘Leap of Faith’ Charity Raceday takes place with fantastic action on the course including the Greatwood Charity Race where eight amateur jockeys will be taking their own leap of faith and competing in a race to raise valuable funds for the charity.
For anyone with a birthday on the extra day, Newbury will be giving a complimentary pair of Premier tickets on proof of your date of birth. To redeem, just speak to the Newbury team directly on 01635 40015.
As well as a great day's racing, there will be a selection of activities across the racecourse for racegoers to tick off on their ‘Leap of Faith’ checklist. One of the most famous Leap Day traditions is for the woman to pop the question to that special someone, but regardless of whether you are male or female, head out to our to the famed Proposal Bench at Newbury and take part in the tradition yourself or catch another in action.
Anyone wanting to propose, get in touch with the racecourse in advance and we can make sure everything is in place for the perfect proposal.
For those looking to learn more about racing, don’t miss our popular Behind the Scenes tours to the Weighing Room and Trips to the Jump with former jockey, Wayne Hutchinson. Find out about what goes on before a race and get up close to the final fence at Newbury as they sail over.
Finally, you can meet one of the jockeys themselves before racing and find out how they prepare for racedays.Ticket prices as follows; Premier, £35 and £25 for Grandstand and can be booked by calling the box office on 01635 40015 or visiting newburyracecourse.co.uk. Book before the day to save £2.