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October 11th

Chepstow (Going; Good to Soft)

Persian War Novices Hurdle (2m3f100y)

Ten runners go to post for this Grade 2 on what is considered the opening of the National Hunt Season proper in Britain. It's not a race I would get heavily involved with and the early punters are flip flopping favouritism with one point covering the first four in the betting and early morning favourite Harambe drifting out two points. The latter was last seen finishing second to Getaway Trump at Sundown last April having won his two previous starts in Novice company. As I write , Thyme Hill is favourite at 4/1. He won his Bumper on his first start this time last year and then finished runner up behind Master Debonair at Cheltenham in November. He reversed that form wit the latter when finishing just over 2l behind Envoi Allen in the Champion Bumper in March. He must be showing his trainer, Philip Hobbs, something at home to be thrown in here on his hurtling debut and the yard is in great form with five winners and nine placed horse from twenty two runners in the last fortnight. Fiddlerontheroof has his first start since winning his Bumper at Navan last March after which he changed hands for £200,000. Again he's one who is thrown in at the deep end making his hurdling debut. Trevelyn's Corn won his point on debut back in December 2017 after which he changed hands for £400,000. He wasn't seen again until last November when he finished fourth. He was then given a break until March when he won his maiden hurdle before running a bit a free and failing to see out the 3m at Aintree. He loses his Novice tag in November and his trainer has had this as his target since he came back after his break. He had a wind op over the summer and is reported fit. Champagne Well ran a blinder in a Grade 3 at sundown in March before disappointing at Aintree over 3m. The drop back in trip should suit. Echiquier was bought by current connections out of France where he had he won once in nine starts, eight of them over the larger obstacles. He was not seen again until last week when he hacked up by 13l in a three runner field. Connections probably learnt nothing from that and it's interesting that he turns out again quickly. Ruthless Article has been busy over the summer winning three of his seven starts. However the ground may be gone for him. Some Day Soon has won his four starts since May and the form has worked out well. Whether it's good enough remains to be seen and he probably wouldn't want any more rain. He could appeal to each way punters at 14/1. I've said it before that the Skeltons aren't afraid to aim at the Graded races and they have Diomede Des Mottes here who has won his last two, the latest after a wind op. It looks a wide open race but Paul Nicholls has a great record in the race having won four of the last nine runnings and Trevelyn's Corn might win another.

Selection; Trevelyn's Corn 1pt win
Best Alternative; Thyme Hill

Oct 5th Gowran Park (Going; Good to Yielding)

Champion Chase (2m4f)
The National Hunt Season proper, as some like to call it, gets under way tomorrow at Gowran Park with the feature race the PWC Champion Chase. Eight runners goto post and it's a tricky race to read with most of them coming back from a long break. Shattered Love gets up to 14LB from her rivals and just shades favouritism. She has some pretty decent form in the book, particularly from 2m to 2m4fso I think we can ignore her last three efforts. She was well beaten at leopards town at Christmas after which she had a wind op. Her next start was in the gold Cup at Cheltenham where she weakened turning in. She then pulled up I the Irish National at Fairyhouse, her last start. Peregrine Run won five times in just over eight weeks from May to July before running a big race with 11-9 in the Galway Plate finishing a 4L fourth having been slightly impeded on the run in. He's been freshened up since and has plenty in his favour. Snow Falcon beat Shattered Love in a Grade 2 at Down Royal last November off level weights but is now 12LB worse off. That was on Good to Yielding but I've always felt he was better with more give in the ground. The Storyteller hasn't won in seven starts since a Grade 1 Novice over 3m at Punchestown in April 2018. He was over 12L behind the winner in that Grade 2 at Down Royal last November. Jury Duty was a 10L runner up here last year before going to the USA a fortnight later where he won a Grade 1 Hurdle at Far Hills. He returned to the track in March winning a Chase in Down Royal before Unseating in the Aintree National and pulling up in the Irish equivalent. This is possibly a warm up for return to Far Hills. Us And Them won his Novice at Navan last November and then had the misfortune to finish runner up in his next five starts before unseating at Punchestown in May. Those races were over 2m to 2m1f and it's likely that the step up here will help him. Jett looks held on his form with Peregrine Run while Yorkhill is a riddle wrapped up in an enigma. It looked like he'd regained his form when winning at Galway in August but was pulled upon at Listowel in September. The pull in the weights might just swing it for Shattered Love.
Selection; Shattered Love
Best Alternative; Peregrine Run