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October 14th

Chepstow (Going; Good, Good To Soft in places)

Persian War Novices Hurdle 2m3f110yds
It's a difficult time to pick winners with these early races attracting runners who are making their seasonal debut and others who have been running over the summer and can exploit their fitness. So it's punters beware as we head into a new jumps season. Eight runners go to post for this Grade 2. Minella Warrior represents the in form Kim Bailey's yard and the trainer has a 57% strike rate with four wins from just seven runners over the last fourteen days which suggests the horses are well forward. Minella Warrior won well on his seasonal reappearance three weeks ago having won his novice hurdle on his previous start in May. He's been lightly raced as his previous run to that was in March 2017 when he finished 2L behind Kalashnikov in a Bumper. Coolanly represents last years winning trainer Fergal O'Brien. He's still a maiden over hurdles but did win a point at Durrow and a Bumper around here last October.. He hasn't been seen out since April hen he was fifth, 12L behind the useful Lalor. Secret Investor from the Paul Nicholls yard hasn't been out since winning for the second time over hurdles at Kempton in May. He's had a wind operation since. The stable is only starting to get going and has had just six runners in the last fourteen days with five seconds among them suggesting the may need the run. Gosheven has had just two runs over hurdles following hos only attempt at a Bumper and his still a maiden. His trainer, Philip Hobbs, must think something of him to start his season off here. The stable is in good form with five wins from eighteen runners in the last fortnight. Push The Tempo has won all his four starts since February, a Point, Bumper and two Hurdles, the last just over three weeks ago. He could make his fitness tell but this could be a step up. Double Treasure  returned to hurdling in June after winning four of his seven starts over fences and has won his two starts over the smaller obstacles. He had a mark of 150 over fences and is rated 140 here which is the highest in the field. However at 7yo it remains to be seen if he has as much improvement in him as a couple of younger horses. Dorking Boy faces a tough task on his hurdling debut. He won his bumper on his first start in April but disappointed in the Grade 1 at Punchestown. Equus Millar steps up in Grade from Handicapping. He won twice in the space of four days in September but with his best form coming on Good ground the rain might have scuppered any chance he had. With the stable in great form and having the benefit of a run Minella Warrior is the selection
Selection; Minella Warrior
Best Alternative; Secret Investor

October 6th

Gowran Park

Champion Chase
Balko Des Flos was travelling like a winner in this race last year when he hit the third last hard and seemed to empty quickly after that to finish a 6L runner up to A Toi Phil who renews rivalry here. Balko Des Flos went onto to win the Ryanair at Cheltenham and Good Ground here will be a help. He has 12LB to spare at the ratings with his nearest rival Ballyoisin who has won his last two chases back in may and June and warmed up for this when exploiting a lower hurdle mark to win a handicap at Listowel. He has had his jumping issues over the years and has fallen three times. He is only a 7yo and might have a bit more improvement in him. A Toi Phil has been well tried and had plenty of racing last season. He has plenty to find on ratings and maybe slower ground would help. Davy Russell rides here and Rachel Blackmore is on Balko Des Flos which looks like the arrangement the respective trainers have recently for the Gigginstown horses. Peregrine Run disappointed in the Galway Plate but subsequently won at Killarney before going down by 3/4L to Woodland Opera on Good to Firm ground at Down royal in August. The latter will be fit after a summer campaign but has a lot to find at the ratings. The other McManus horses, Don't Touch It and Rock The World look up against it on ratings as do Jury Duty, Ballycasey and Ordinary World. If he's fit enough Balko Des Flos should win here.
Selection; Balko Des Flos (Best available 6/4 Paddy Power)
Next Best; Ballyoisin