Next Race Preview
Fairyhouse (Going; Good)
There's a cracking days racing in store at Fairyhouse on Sunday with three Grade 1's a Grade 3 Juvenile Hurdle a Grade B Chase and a Grade A Handicap Hurdle. If that doesn't get you off the couch I don't know what will. Hopefully there won't be too many non runners as seven of the eight races have full Each Way Betting.
Royal Bond Novice Hurdle (2m)
Eight go to post for this Grade 1 and the early favourite My Mate Mossie got a boos to the form when Chemical Energy, whom he beat 10l in to second three weeks ago over 2m, won over 2m4f here today. Prior to that My Mate Mossie had beaten Barbados, rated 108 on the Flat, in a Maiden Hurdle at Punchestown by 8l. Mighty Potter has had just two starts winning both, a Bumper and Maiden Hurdle the latter by 29l at Down Royal although it's hard to judge the form of that race. The latter is trained by Gordon Elliott who also runs Three Stripe Life with Davy Russell up. He won his Bumper first time up then was beaten just over 8l into fourth in the Cheltenham Bumper. He reappeared here early this month and won very easily at long odds on. Colin Murphy looks to have a nice Mare on his hands with Impervious. She's won her three starts so far, all over Hurdles, with the latest in a Grade 3 at Down Royal last month with some decent horses behind her. She gets a valuable 7lb allowance. Farout was disappointing at Listowel behind Off Your Rocco while Uhtred has had his problems but got off the mark at Naas on his seasonal reappearance earlier this month. Gordon Elliott has two nice horses here but ground may be an issue. Preference is for My Mate Mossie who will definitely act on the ground with Impervious an Each Way alternative
Selection; My Mate Mossie
Best Alternative; Impervious (E.W,)
Drinmore Novice Chase (2m3f175y)
Ten go to post for this Grade 1 and there'll be no hiding place. Lifetime Ambition got his chasing career of to a good start at Down Royal last month beating Beacon Edge almos 3l with subsequent winner Vanillier another 3l back in third with those three pulling well clear of the rest. Lifetime Ambition made it all that day and it will be interesting to see if similar tactics are employed here. Gabynako beat Fury Road by just over 2l over a furlong further than today's trip earlier this month around the inner track here. He took a keen hold that day and pulled his way to the front seven fences out. He flew the last two and kept on well. His jumping was super that day and a repeat will see him in the mix. The ground might be a bit quick over this trip for Fury Road who had a wind op over the summer following two disappointing runs at the end of last season. Prior to those two runs he was beaten a neck in a Grade 2 Hurdle at Navan by Beacon Edge on Heavy and don't forget he was beaten a neck in a driving finish by Monkfish in the Albert Bartlett in 2020 on Soft. Grand Paradis fell at the second last in Lifetime Ambitions race but looked like a place was all he could get. Midnight Run was fourth behind Gabynako here on his seasonal debut. He ran about a bit going to the last and blundered it and was passed by Fury Road and Max Flamingo close home but was still only over 2l back from the winner. He had some pretty decent Bumper form, a 5l second to Envoi Allen and beat Colreevy over 9l in a Maiden Hurdle but then seemed to lose his way. He had two runs over the larger obstacles at the back end of last season the second being the best when almost 5l back in second to Captain Guinness who is now rated 153. At 9/1 he could be each way value. After two promising runs over fence when winning and beating RunWild Fred and Buddy Rich in the process Cape Gentleman came up against an inspired piece of placing by the Elliott team when Riviere D'etal made use of all the allowances to destroy the field in the Grade 2 at Punchestown last month. With this stable follow the money. There must be doubts about the ground for Fire Attack while Blue Berry who has come late to chasing may come up fall short. Global Equity gets the Mares allowance and the best she can hope for is a bit of Black Type. It's a tough one to call. Lifteime Ambition and the rest were at it from a long way out at Down Royal and one of the three who reoppose here could win it. However Gabynako gave an exhibition of jumping then last day and gets the nod.
Best Alternative; Midnight Run (E.W.)
Hatton's Grace Hurdle (2m4f)
Another field of ten for this Grade 1 and Honeysuckle bids to maintain her unbeaten record and in the process equal Apple Jade's three consecutive wins in the race. There's every chance she can do it as Henry De Bromhead says they have given her plenty of work and she's in great form as the aim towards retaining the Champion Hurdle crown. Saldier carried top weight to victory in the Galway Hurdle and then won the Grade 3 Hurdle at Tipperary the beginning of October. The Mullins horse have started to find form recently and the stable is operating at a 27% strike rate over the last fourteen days. Patrick Mullins resumes the Galway partnership and judging by the trainers comments had the choice. Abracadabras stepped up to this trip in the Aintree Hurdle and with a lot of his opponents appearing to not stay or running flat and the favourite Jason The Militant unseating some cribbed the form. But he always looked like winning after the last beating Buzz by just over 1l. Buzz has franked the form somewhat in the Grade 2 Ascot Hurdle last week. Ronald Pump was beaten a neck by the favourite here last year and despite some decent runs hasn't won since victorious in a Novice Chase here in November 2019 which was his fifth win in six starts and he is a Fairyhouse specialist with three of his five wins coming here. He wears first time blinkers. Sire Du Berlais was a 6l second to Darasso at Navan three weeks ago but is probably best of a longer trip having been runner up in the stayers at Cheltenham and and winning the Pertemps Final the previous year. Stormy Island showed her liking for the track when winning the Grade 2 over course and distance at Easter with some decent horses behind her and followed up winning the Grade 1 Mares at Punchestown. She likes to make the running so it should be a true test. Latest Exhibition had the misfortune to come up against Monkfish last year. He had a proceedure to sort out a few niggles over the summer and his trainer Paul Nolan says he was quick and slick in a schooling session last week. Probably needs further. Darasso should be hard fit after a summer campaign. It's hard to believe he's 3/1 with his form and while I don't think he can win he could run into a place. Sams Profile was poor on his return at Galway last month. Skyace has disappointed in her last two runs and is best watched. I'll take a chance with Abracadabras who has an each way chance.
Selection; Abracadabras (E.W.)
Best Alternative; Saldier (E.W.)
Newbury (Going; Good To Soft)
John Francome Novices Chase (2m7f86y)
Just four runners for this Grade 2 and the money has come during the day for Henry De Bromhead's Mr Incredible. Hew a was runner up in his point in October 2020 for Colin Bowe after which he moved to his current yard and went to Leopardstown last Christmas where he was runner up, beaten over 9l, to Gaillard Du Mesnil with stablemate Magic Daze who has won a couple since 8l back in third. He won his maiden over 2m3f on Heavy ground at Naas in January and wasn't seem again until earlier this month when his stamina came into play having looked to have plenty to do going to the last he kept on strongly to win going away. Having won his two hurdle starts, the second beating Bravemansgame 7l at Aintree last April, Ahoy Senor made his chase debut at Carlisle four weeks ago and was still in the mix when sprawling on landing two out in the race won by Fiddlerontheroof. He did unseat in his first start in a point but then won a point at Kimble by 30l. Ashtown Lad won on his only chase start last month on seasonal debut. He had mixed form over hurdles winning two of his seven starts and had a wind op before his final start last season. He had four starts in points falling first time out and winning the fourth. Flash Collonges is three from five over hurdles and makes his chase debut here having had a wind op over the summer and while he did win first time out a year ago he's probably best watched and market moves should be noted. It's dificult to get a handle on these early novice chases. Ahoy Senor was best on ratings over hurdles but the money seems to be talking for Mr Incredible who gets the selection.
Selection; Mr Incredible
Best Alternative; Flash Collonges
Newcastle (Going; Good)
Fighting Fifth Hurdle (2m46y)
I've just checked the Weather Forecast for Newcastle and it is subject to a Red Wind Warning. Some forecasts are also predicting up to 30mm of rain before post time. If all these come to fruition it could change the dynamics of the race as it stands now. Four of these ran in last years renewal which went to pieces at the first hurdle. Oh So Sleepy took a hold, didn't fancy jumping it, ducked and dived and dropped his jockey. He proceeded on to the second where he declined the offer and ran out carrying Silver Streak with him. he then went out of hot down the back straight but turning for home he reappeared and cut across Sceau Royale who had been forced to make the running. Jacob on the latter had to briefly snatch up and losta bit of momentum. Whether it affected the result I wouldn't think so othe r than the winning distance as Epatante was very impressive. Next time out the latter was beaten by Silver Streak and to be honest I was disappointed with her at Cheltenham and Punchestown. She has had an operation to correct her back since. Sceau Royal went chasing later with mixed results, Falling, beating Champ in a Grade 2 and then no match for Put The Kettle On at Cheltenham. He's followed last years route to this winning both his starts beating Silver Streak by over 3l in the first of them. The latter didn't impress his trainer that day either in the paddock or the way he ran but may have needed it. On his run at Kempton last Christmas he could have a chance if it rains. Paul Nicholls will be hoping the rain comes for Monmiral. He's only a 4yo and they don't have a great resord in the race but he's won on Heavy, Soft and God To Soft. His form on his last two starts last season is top class. He beat Nassalam by over 7l at Haydock and then won the Grade 1 Novice at Aintree by the same distance from Adagio. Not So Sleepy went on to beat Buzz at Ascot after this race last year but was no match for Honeysuckle and Abracadabras on his next two starts. He warmed up for this with a run on the flat. Given the weather forecast, and hoping it's right, I'm going to take a chance with Monmiral but if the going stayed the same I wouldn't be afraid to go with Sceau Royal.
Best Alternative; Epatante
Newbury (Going; Good To Soft)
The Berkshire Chase (2m3f
Only four runners are due to face the starter for this Grade 2 and it's a tricky affair with just 1.3 points between them in the betting. Millers Bank is the early favourite on the back of an impressive chasing debut at Huntingdon last month where he sluiced home by 11l albeit he was entitled to on hurdle ratings with his opponent. He had finished last season with a third place in the Aintree Hurdle just over 3l behind Abracadabras and ground doesn't seem to be a problem. Nassalam is only a 4yo and had a tough battle at Ascot last month on chase debut where he jumped left on occassions. He's reported to school brilliantly and he is tough as he got bumped on the run in but got back up. He also had some decent form over hurdles finishing just over 2l behind Adagio in a Grade 1. He gets a nice 4yo allowance which puts him in with a shout. A slight concern about the ground is the only negative. Tea Clipper won on his only start over fences when a comfortable 3l winner in a Listed race at Chepstow early October. He's only been out of the first three twice in ten starts but does need time between his races. Pic D'Orhy makes up the field and he's the most experienced over fences having won of his five starts over the larger obstacles. That win came last month at Ffos Lass on Good ground and was his third start after a wind op last December. There are a few question marks in relation to ground for a few but in the hope that he handles it Nassalam is the selection.
Best Alternative; Pic D'Orhy
Long Distance Hurdle (3m52y)
Six go to post for this Grade 2 Staying Hurdle. Paisley Park got his season under way her last year finishing second to Thyme Hill and reversed those positions next time out. He's already had an outing in preparation for this when just over 5l back in third behind Indefatigable in a Grade 2 at Wetherby where he hit his usual flat spot but rallied again after two out and stayed on well to be third. He wears first time cheek pieces in an attempt to get him to travel better. Indefatigable is 6lb worse off for that Wetherby win and had the benefit of a run before hand. Mrs Milner travels over from Ireland. She won the Pertemps Final at Cheltenham comfortably off a nice weight and returned to action at Limerick last month winning a Listed Mares Hurdle over an extended 2m6f. She was getting 4lb off the runner up who was rated 21lb inferior to her so Mrs Milner would have to improve on that although the step up in trip should help. Lisnagar Oscar was beaten 22l in this last year where he weakened approaching the last having taken the lead three out. He's a wind op after that and ran much better next time when beaten less than 1l by Third Wind in a Grade to at Haydock last February. He fell at the 7th at Cheltenham and was well beaten in the Aintree Stayers. He returned three weeks ago at Aintree where the 2m4f trip was too short and having been outpaced approaching the last he stayed on and went third near the finish. Having won the stayers at Cheltenham in 2020 he's worth a look. Thomas Darby is a lightly raced 8yo who has been only out of the first three twice in fifteen starts. He weakened on the run in at Wetherby last month and was overtaken by Paisley Park and on his start before that he was beaten over 4l into third by Thyne Hill in the Aintree Stayers. On The Blind Side had two disappointing runs at the backend of last season. He had started off the campaign in a Listed Hurdle at Cheltenham getting home by a neck from Mrs Milner giving her 11lb and after two runner up spots beat Lil Rockerfeller, giving him 4lb on Heavy ground. He has won on Good To Soft but his recent form on it isn't encouraging. Indefatigable did us a turn at Wetherby and she might be able to do it again here.
Best Alternative; Lisnagar Oscar
Haydock Park (Good To Soft)
Betfair Chase (3m1f125y)
The Going at Haydock on Friday morning was described as Good To Soft but with only 0.1mm forecast between now and post time it could improve to Good/Yielding which could possibly change opinions betting wise.
Eight runners go to post for this Grade 1. Connections have had this race in mind for a while as a starting point for A Plus Tard who needs to go left handed. The plan is this race followed by the Savills Chase at Leopardstown and then the Cheltenham Gold Cup. The step up in trip lasts season following a disappointing effort over 2m at Navan was the making of him as he was impressive when winning the Savills at Christmas before a career best when runner up to stablemate Minella Indo in the Gold Cup. On current form he is the highest rated horse in the race but one negative is that he hasn't won on his seasonal debut the last three seasons and a lot of De Bromhead's have needed a run this season. Bristol De Mai has won this three times, '17, '18 and '20 and was runner up in '19. Having won last years renewal he was off the course until February when second to Native River in a Grade 2 at Sandown before pulling up in the National. He runs well when fresh and ground won't be a problem. Waiting Patiently was an exciting Novice and went on to complete a seven timer in the Grade 1 Ascot Chase in February 2018 beating Cue Card, Frodon and Top Notch in the process. He didn't reappear until the King George the following December where he was badly hampered and unseated Brian Hughes at the ninth. He had just three starts the following year the best of which was a third, beaten 1l behinf Defi Du Seuil at Ascot in December 2019. He didn't run again until last years King George where he ran a big race to finish just over 2l back in second behind Frodon. He was then beaten 8l in third in a Grade 1 at Ascot over 2m1f before pulling up in the Betway Bowl at Aintree. He moved to Christian Williams yard over the summer and has his first start for him here. It's hard to fancy Royale Pigalle on this ground His hat trick of wins last season came on Soft or Heavy and he was beaten 49l in the Gold Cup on Good To Soft and he's been drifting out in the betting market. Next Destination wears cheek pieces for the first time. He was off the course from April 2018 until October last year and ran four respectable races finishing runner up to Roksana on seasons debut then winning two Grade 2's before a second to Galvin in the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham. On ratings however he has a fair bit to find with those above. Imperial Aura, having beaten Galvin at the Cheltenham Festival in 2020 in a Listed Novice, got last season off to a great start winning on his first two, a Listed chase and a Grade 2. However he unseated at Kempton last January before pulling up in then Ryanair at Cheltenham where he never travelled and reportedly bled from the nose. He's had a wind op since and steps up to this trip for the first time. His trainer, Kim Bailey, has always believed he was a 3m horse in the making and hopes that if the wind op works there is more improvement in him but on this his seasonal debut I think he is probably best watched. You have to admire Mick Winters sending over Chatham Street Lad who has a lot to find on ratings. He should improve for his run at Limerick in October where he faded from the home turn. That was his first run since winning a Grade 3 over 3m on Heavy over the same course in March, a run that came just ten days after finishing 8l behind Chantry House at Cheltenham on Good To Soft over 2m4f. The worry for me is apart from his rating he appears to need it Soft or Heavy for his best performance. Clondaw Castle is another who has to find a bit on ratings. However he will have conditions in his favour. Last season he wasn't out of the first three on six starts winning twice, the last win earning him a rating of 160. However he was well beaten on his final start of the season finishing 26l back in second behind Clan Des Obeaux at Aintree. On his only start this season he weakened before the last to finish 18l back in third behind Fusil Raffles who benefitted from the fall of Shan Blue three out. He should come on for that but it's hard to see him winning. With a few question marks around some of these slight preference is for Bristol Du Mai whose trainer is in great form at the moment operating at a 28% strike rate over the last fortnight while it's interesting that Paul Nicholls relies on Next Destination here and he might be a bit of each way value.
Selection; Bristol Du Mai
Best Alternative; Next Destination (Each Way)
Ascot (Going; Good)
Chanelle Pharma 1965 Chase (2m5f8y)
Six runners go to post for this Grade 2 which has a terrific Roll of Honour. There is just 2lb in ratings between the top four in the race 160/162 but Dashel Drasher (162), who is the early favourite and Master Tommytucker (160) have to concede a Grade 1/2 6lb to penalty to Defi Du Seuil (162) and Lostintranslation (160) with the latter two having their first run after a wind op. Except for Master Tommytucker the other three are making seasonal debuts. Add in Bennys King (154) from the in form Skelton's and Pistol Whipped (153) who Nicky Henderson throws in and its a difficult race to weigh up. Dashel Drasher made his seasonal debut in November 2020 after almost a year of and went down by 33l to Master Tommytucker. However he turned his form completely around winning all three of his other starts and all at Ascot over today's course and distance. In the final race he had Master Tommytucker 2l baehind in second after the winner ducked left and hung left in the final 110 yards. Bennys King was over 5l behind the runner up in third. On Dasher Drasherl's penultimate start Bennys King was just over 1l back in second. Master Tommytucker had got last season off to a good start with a second place to Al Dancer at Newton Abbot before winning twice. However he disappointed at Cheltenham in December, got back on track winning a Grade 2 at Kempton in January before that defeat to Dashel Drasher and was possibly over the top at Aintree. He had a warm up for this when down the field in a 3m Grade 2 hurdle at Wetherby three weeks ago. Defi Du Seuil had a miserable time of it last season running just twice when being pulled up at Cheltenham and 17l back at Ascot in January. He had a wind op after that and makes his first appearance since then. He won three on the trot between November 2019 and January 2020 beating Politilogue and Un De Sceaux twice before being well beaten by the former in the Queen Mother. This day two years ago Lostintranslation was winning the Betfair at Haydock and looked to have a bright future. He then pulled up in the King George after which he had wind surgery and was next seen in the Gold Cup when third beaten over1l to Al Boum Photo. He then was well beaten defending his Betfair title and Pulled up in the King George resulting in more wind surgery. He was beaten 26l by Secret Investor next time before pulling up in the Gold Cup last March and yes he's had more wind surgery which consisted of being hobdayed and a tie back according to his trainer Colin Tizzard. He's reported to look a million dollars and having once been rated 173 it would be great to see him back to form and the drop back in trip is interesting. Bennys King pulled up in The 3m London Chase where he was a drifter in the market and drops back to a trip he's probably more comfortable with. You have to go back to 2016 to find a race he ran in without juice in the ground but he has won on good to soft. At the weights he has a chance. Pistol Whipped needs Good ground . Since having wind surgery in the Summer of 2019 he has improved by 25lb in the Handicappers estimation. However this is a big step up but it's interesting that Henderson sends him here and the team are in decent form with a 24% strike rate. The Tizzard stable hads come back to form after a lean season by their own standards and while I would normally sit out a race like this with all the question marks I'll take one last chance with Lostintranslation with Bennys King a sporting alternative.
Best Alternative; Bennys King
The Ascot Hurdle (2m)
Nicky Henderson is quoted in the Racing Post Stable Tour saying "we'll wait for the rain as soft ground will make a huge difference" when talking about Buzz who lines up here in a field of five. He warmed up for this when winning the Cesarewitch at Newmarket last month on Good ground. According to the trainer he had a bit of a rushed preperation for that. He had finished last season with a second place behind Abracadabras in the Aintree Hurdle over 2m4f. He had come to hurdling relatively late having raced on the flat from 2yo to 5yo. He won his novice hurdle on Good ground one of three wins from eight starts over obstacles and was second in two and third in one. So he's pretty consistent and a strong favourite on the tissue. What to make of Goshen. He beat Song For Someone 22l into second at Wincanton last February having finished 29l behind the latter on his previous start. Goshen subsequently finished down the field at Cheltenham and Punchestown behind Honeysuckle. Song For Someone has his first start since pulling up in the Aintree Hurdle which came after his hevy defeat to Goshen. He's had a wind op over the Summer and those runs were too bad to be true having run up an impressive hat trick prior to them. Molly Ollys Wishes represents the Skeltons and get gets the Mares allowance. She finished last season with a third place in a Grade 2 at Fontwell beaten almost 7l by Brewin'upastorm. Prior to that she had completed a hat trick when winning a Listed Mares at Warwick. She showed her well being three weeks ago when winning a Listed Mares at Wetherby in impressive fashion being eased towards the finish. Guard Your Dreams won at Cheltenham last month when he saw off Coole Cody by 2l conceding him 10lb and the latter was running a big race in the Paddy Power Gold Cup last weekend when falling two out. Prior to that October win Guard Your Dreams had finished a 10l third to My Drago in a Grade 1 Novice at Aintree. Race fitness should help but he'll need to improve a bit to win here. Buzz gets 6lb from his main rivals and on ratings and with the benefit of a run might shade it. Hopefully Song For Someone can come back after the wind op and is an alternative.
Best Alternative; Song For Someone
Punchestown (Going; Yielding)
Florida Pearl Novice Chase (2m6f140y)
Six go to post for this Grade 2. Vanillier third behind Lifetime Ambition on his only start over fences two weeks ago over a trip too short and where his jumping was a bit careful. He should improve for the run and stepping up in trip is a big help. Sixshooter got his chase career off to the perfect start at Galway three weeks ago winning with ease from Bay ambition and The Bosses Oscar and putting in a good round of jumping over a similar trip to today's. Run Wild Fred has been placed five times in eight starts over fences but hasn't managed to win yet. He has been tied over trips from 2m4f to 3m5f and on his latest start was 14l back in second behind Cape Gentleman having been runner up beaten just over 1l by Freewheelin Dylan in the Irish National on his previous start. Jockey bookings suggest that his stablemate Fancy Foundations is more favoured. The latter was travelling well behind Gin And Lime when falling three out at Tipperary last month having won his previous two starts over fences. Ballyshannon Rose won a Mares race at Thurles last month but on hurdle ratings has a bit to find while Dewcup must be a doubt having finished second to French Dynamite at the course today. Sixshooter impressed me at Galway and gets the nod.
Best Alternative; Fancy Foundations
Five go to post for this Grade 1 and Willie Mullins has the top two in the betting. However there are reports that his horses are behind due to remedial work that had to be carried out on the Closutton gallops and indeed he's only had ten runners the past fourteen days without a winner. Echoes In Rain heads the market and has won three of her last four including her last appearance in April in the Grade 1 Champion Novice Hurdle at Punchestown. Sharjah has been runner up to Honeysuckle his last two starts and is the highest rated horse in the race but hasn't run since the end of April. Zanahiyr looked the real deal up to Christmas last year winning three impressively. He was beaten at Cheltenham where a slow early pace didn't help and was unlucky in running at Punchestown, He returned with an impressive victory at Down Royal last month. His stablemate Abracadabras hasn't been since Punchestown in April when he was a bit disappointing in the Champion Hurdle. He won this last year off the back of a run in the Grade 2 at Down Royal which is the race Zanahiyr won this year. Darasso drops back in trip after success in the Lismullen at Navan last week. With doubts about some of these I'll take a chance with Zanahiyr.
Best Alternative; Sharjah
The Cheltenham Chase (1m7f199y)
Only four runners but a cracking contest in store. Put The Kettle On had Nuba Negra half a length back in second in the Champion Chase here back in March. The Mare was very game that day and she loves this place having won at this meeting the previous two years including last years renewal of this. Nuba Negra went to Punchestown after that but was over 24l back in third to Chacun Pour Soi the latter having while the Cheltenham race also took it's toll on Put The Kettle On who was soundly beaten at Sandown in April. Politilogue reappears for the first time since Aintree last April where he reportedly bled. He's also had a wind op (his second) since then. On ratings he just about shades it but I just wonder would he prefer a bit of juice in the ground. Rouge Vif has his first start for Paul Nicholls and has had a wind op. He looks held on his form with the other three. Slight preference is for Put The Kettle On but Nuba Negra won't make it easy for her.
Selection; Put The Ketle On
Best Alternative; Nuba Negra
The Sharp Novices' Hurdle (2m87y)
Again only four runners and like all Novice hurdles in Britain it can be hard to get a handle on the form. I Like To Move It has won both Hurdle starts including around this course and distance last time when he beat the useful Tritonic who is rated 142. Washington won his only Hurdles start having convincingly won his two Bumpers. He sweated up before that Hurdle race and took a keen hold yet won readily with a bit in hand. He should improve for that. Songino has his first start for Paul Nicholls having won two of his three runs in France and market moves should be watched. Pikar has had just the one run when second to Knappers Hill, who has won again since, at Chepstow last month where he lost his right fore shoe and has to be respected coming from the Skelton's. I'll take a chance on Washington with Vikar maybe offering the best value of the rest.
Best Alternative; Vikar
Punchestown (Good To Yielding)
Craddockstown Novice Chase (2m180y)
Seven runners make up a decent renewal of this Grade 2. Cape Gentleman heads the betting following two impressive wins on his only starts over the larger obstacles. In the first of them he won in a canter after the favourite Ballyadam fell at the first where Cape Gentleman wasn't fluent either and was foot perfect apart from the second last where he went through the top of it. Buddy Rich was 6l back in second and never troubled the winner. Cape Gentleman then went to Cork a fortnight ago where he hosed home by 14l from Run Wild Fred and Bleu Berry in a Grade 3 Novice. Riviere D'etel gets the 4yo and fillies allowance giving her a big pull at the weights. Gordon Elliott has been adept at placing a few of these 4yo fillies this season to get some Black Type. She's just had the one spin over fences when she went off an odds on favourite and was an easy 11l winner from Jeremys Flame over 2m at Fairyhouse. Having had to watch the backside of Cape Gentleman at Punchestown, Buddy Rich had the misfortune to come up against Third Time Lucki at Cheltenham next time out and finished over 8l back in second. He reappeared at Navan six days ago when he finally got a deserved win seeing off Ballyadam by 4l. Embittered is very experienced having run in ten chases but didn't get his first win until the eight time of asking by getting home by half a length at Killarney from Poseidon. He then went down by a neck to Exit Poll over an extended 2m Grade 3 at Roscommon and then went up in trip to an extended 2m2f around here in Mid October where he got an enterprising ride from Brian Cooper who kicked on five fences out with only Hurricane Georgie able to go with him and he saw her of by almost 3l with Exit Poll a further 8l back in third. The remainder have a lot to find on form and I think Cape Gentleman can continue his good run and maybe River D'etel can give him most to do.
Selection; Cape Gentleman
Best Alternative; River D'etel
The Prestbury Juvenile Hurdle (2m87y)
The Paul Nicholls trained Magistrato heads the betting for this Juvenile Hurdle. He's had just the two carer starts finishing second at Auteuil beaten 3l by Porticello who went on to win a listed Hurdle impressively at Wetherby last month. Magistrato joined Nicholls after that and went to Chepstow where he went off an odds on favourite and duly obliged by 12l from Rocky Man, who reopposes on Good Ground. Knight Salute has won his two hurdle starts in the latter beating a Henderson hot pot who had to carry a double penalty. Caramelised won his first two starts quite easily in the second one beating Addosh, who reoppses here, 19l back in to second. He was then beaten 9l into third by the latter on his third and latest start where he carried a double penalty and ran way to keenly and can probably be forgiven the run as he scoped badly afterwards. He wears a first time hood. That was Addosh's second start over hurdles and on her third and only other start she took a keen hold at Wetherby but was going easily and in touch when blundering and unseating her jockey three out in the race won by Porticello. Mister Allegro was only rated 58 at his best on the Flat and was bought out of Mark Johnston's yard cheaply for 13,000 guineas but caused a shock on hurdles debut winning at 40/1 from Genuflex who was almost 4l behind Porticello at Wetherby. He then went to Wincanton three weeks ago and proved that win was no fluke beating the odds on Sonning by 7l. Aliomaana has had mixed results in her four hurdle starts. She can take a hold and run keenly as she did first time out where she finished third to Fred Bear. She again took a hold next time at Perth and fell at the last while 2l clear. She returned there next time and made amends making all for a 25l win but didn't get things her own way when beaten 8l into second on her latest start at Fakenham in a Mares Hurdle with the winner Malakhana having won her previous start in Toulouse. Saint Requier was almost 6l behind Mister Allegro in October on his first start for current connections having raced on the Flat in France and then went to Huntingdon two weeks ago finishing just over 1l behind Twilight Twist. Yorksea a son of Sea The Stars out of a Grade 1 winning Pivotal mare only won once in six attempts on the Flat in France and has his first start over obstacles for trainer Gary Moore and is one to watch. It's always difficult to weigh up the various strands of form as some races can be quite week but I think there is more depth to this field than the betting would suggest and while I have no dstrong oopinion, Caramelised who worked well last weekend could be a bit of value each way but I would only recommend a half point each way and is widely available at 13/2 presently
Selection; Caramelised (Half Point Each Way)
Best Alternative; Magistrato
Cheltenham (Going; Good To Soft)
The Hyde Novices Hurdle (2m5f)
Seven go to post for this Grade 2 around the Old Course. Gelino Bello looked impressive when quickening up to beat Ree Okka at Aintree over 2m4f on Good Ground by 6l in a decent enough time on his first start over hurdles. He had won on his racecourse debut when getting home by just over 1l in a Plumpton Bumper on Soft ground. He followed that up with a third place in a Newbury Bumper on Good To Soft. With just three runs in all and one over Hurdles he lacks the experience of some of his rivals. Pioneer Racing are having a great time of it and have won twelve National Hunt races between Ireland and Britain with seven of the twelve horse to have run so far. Here we have to make a full disclosure that the Whiteflagmen have a material interest in two of those horse but none in Off Your Rocco who runs here. Nor are we privy to the thoughts of connections on the race. Off Your Rocco has won four of his five starts and there was a legitamate reason for his poor run at Galway. On his penultimate start he hosed in at Listowel beating the odds on favourite Farout, who made a mistake two out, by 11l. He backed that up on his next and final start when stepping up in trip he travelled beautifully into the straight and was asked to quicken between the last two and kept on well to win on Soft ground. his other wins have com eon Good or Yielding. Blazing Khal won his Bumper at the fifth attempt in a bog at Limerick last December. He didn't reappear until Galway last month when he saw off subesquent Bumper winner Gringo D'aubrelle by almost 3l on Soft ground over 2m3f. Represents the shrewd Charles Byrnes but lacks experience over hurdles. Kayf Hernando has to be respected representing the Skeltons. He was beaten a short head in a Point last December and the winner hasn't done anything in two starts under rules since. He was third in his only Bumper last April and reapperared last month at Carlisle where he caused a bit of an upset beating the odds on favourite Mister Whitaker by a neck with the third 11l further back. Current Mood reappears quickly after winning at Ludlow eight days ago over an extended 2m5f. He's two from two over hurdles this season having having sluiced up by 14l at Ffos Las in September both successes on Good ground. He's also won a couple of Points on Yielding. Glencassley has won a couple of Novice Hurdles over 2m and an extended 2m3f the latter his only start this season. It's always difficult to weigh up Novice form at this stage of the season so I'll take a chance on Off Your Rocco to get the better of Gelino Bello.
Selection; Off Your Rocco
Best Alternative; Gelino Bello
Clonmel (Going; Soft)
Clonmel Oil Chase (2m4f149y)
Just four go to post for this Grade 2 Chase which has ben won previously by Sizing Europe, Kemboy, Douvan and Bachasson, the last three trained by Willie Mullins who has won six of the last ten renewals. He saddles two here with Easy Game (Brian Hayes) and Royal Rendezvous (Danny Mulins). The latter was all out to beat Hardline in the 2m4f Grade 2 at Gowran at the start of October off level weights and the latter is 5lb better of here while Easy Game was going well when unseating Brian Hayes three out. That Gowran win came after an impressive win in the Galway Plate where he had Easy Game, who was giving 4lb to the winner, 1l back in second place. They race off level weights here but the soft ground may not suit Easy Game who prefers a sounder surface. Fakir D'oudairies has to concede weight to his rival having to carry a Grade 1 penalty for his impressive win in the Melling Chase at Aintree last April. Since winning the Drinmore with a spectacular round of Jumping back in 2019 he had the misfortune to come up against a few hotpots and was runner up in five of six starts before winning the Melling. Hardline's run at Gowran was his first since the corresponding rave last year when he fell two out when in contention. His best bit of chasing form came two years ago in the John Durkan when he was second, just over 2l, to Min. That earned him a career high of 161. He runs off 159 here and under the conditions of the race has a slight edge over his opponents. He likes the ground and is the only course winner in the field but can put in an inexplicable run now and then. Fakir D'oudairies is the class horse in the race and at 6yo has room for further improvement. However he has to concede weight to his rivals while ground might be an issue for the Mullins pair although it's mainly dry between now and post time with possibly a drying wind Thursday morning. All in all a tricky contest so I'll take a chance with Hardline while Fakir D'oudairies could chase him home. However if it dries out a bit by post time I wouldn't ignore Easy Game
Best Alternative; Fakir D'oudairies
Navan (Going; Good To Soft)
Lismullen Hurdle (2m4f)
Six go to post for this Grade 2 which has a decent Roll Of Honour and bookies seedm to think it's a two horse race with Flooring Porter, the Champion Stayer shading the betting from runner up in that race Sire Du Berlais who was also behind the winner in the Leopardstown Christmas Hurdle. Flooring Porter went to the Punchestown Festival after Cheltenham but seemed to get lit up, missed the start took a keen hold and led after the second before been pulled up before the last having made a few jumping errors. Danny Mullins who rode him at Cheltenham is back on board. Sire Du Berlais is a lightly raced 9yo but has only won four of his eighteen starts. He won this last year beating French Dynamite and Sixshooter on Soft To Heavy Ground and over this trip it's possible he'd need more rain. The 7yo Sams Profile is another who is lightly raced having won twice and been placed five times in 10 starts under rules plus winning his only point. He returned at Galway last month having been off since winning the Grade 2 Galmoy Hurdle at Gowran Park last January but finished a long way back behind Sixshooter in a chase having beaten the latter 11l in that Gowran race. Darasso was fourth in that Galmoy Hurdle and has been kept busy since running nine time over fences and hurdles winning twice with both wins coming at 2m4f and 2m3f on Good and Good to Yielding. Grand Roi was bough out of Nicky Henderson's a year ago by Gordon Elliott for £400k and has won once from four starts when getting home by 8l from the useful Wolf Prince over 2m in Heavy Going at Limerick last Christmas. He was runner up behind Bachasson in a Grade 3 at Naas before finishing down the field in the Coral Cup at Cheltenham. He won three of his four starts for Henderson and is still only a 5yo so capable of further improvement. Nibblers Charm has a lot to find on ratings. Danny Mullins got a great tune out of Flooring Porter and is a master of the front running tactics so he gets the nod here although the stable is out of form at present and the two Elliott Horses Sire Du Berlais and Grand Roi can't be discounted.
Selection; Flooring Porter
Best Alternative; Grand Roi
Fortria Chase (2m)
Five go to post for this Grade 2 and Gigginstown have two of them. Notebook is odds on favourite on the tissue to get his season off to a winning start. He won a Grade 2 at Naas a year ago on seasonal debut but then came up against Chacun Pour Soi on his next two runs and then finished down the field at Cheltenham and Aintree. His trainer says he'll be stepped up in trip this season but is in good form for this. Samcro wears first time blinkers in an attempt to spark him up having disappointed in first time cheek pieces in the Galway Plate. Having finished 6l back in third at Down Royal behind Battleoverdoyen in a Grade 2 October 2020 he pulled up in his next two before beating Cilaos Emery on Good to Yielding over 2m4f at Killarney. It's almost three years since he ran over 2m and Gordon Elliott says he will improve for the run.Connections of the mare Bridge Native will be hoping she can pick up a bit of Black Type but she has a bit to find with the front two and the same can be said for Kitty Galore and Make My Heart Fly. This looks a good opportunity for Notebook who is the selection.
Best Alternative; Bridge Native
Wincanton (Going; Good)
Rising Stars Novices Chase (2m4f35y)
When I sat down to do this earlier, Bravemansgame was clear favourite for this and it looked a shoe in bar a fall. However he's a late withdrawal and we now have a competitive affair. His stablemate Mick Pastor has had three wind surgeries and the latest seems to have worked the oracle as he's won his four starts since and gone up 10lb in the handicap. Admittedly they have only been two, three and four horse races but he won them impressively and looks as if the step up in trip will be no problem. Faivoir is now also a non runner. Captain Tom Cat got his Chasing career off to a great start winning on his first three runs but then got beaten in a Grade 3 at Market Rasen in July. He reappeared early October but was 30l back in fourth behind Tea Clipper and Fidelio Vallis at Chepstow. Jacamar and Goa Lil have it all to do at the ratings.
Selection; Mick Pastor
Best Alternative; Captain Tom Cat
Elite Hurdle (1m7f50y)
Sceau Royal bids to repeat last years success in this Grade 2 and faces six rivals in his attempt. He had a warm up for this when a Listed Hurdle by over 3l from Silver Streak at Kempton last month. It's hard to know what to make of Goshen at this stage as he's a riddle wrapped up in an enigma. He won around here in the Kingwell Hurdle beating a decent field by 22l and more. However the form of that race for me is suspect as those behind him most definitely didn't perform and ran too bad to be true. It's interesting that he starts back in a hurdle having gone the flat route for his warm up the previous two seasons. Belfast Banter won the County Hurdle in fine style at Cheltenham and followed up in the Novice Grade 1 at Aintree. he reappeared in the Galway Hurdle where a bad mistake three out scuppered whatever chance he had. His next and last start was at Listowel where he fell at the last when coming with a challenge. Needs a career best here I would think. Norman Lee sends Sole Pretender over from Ireland and he continues to improve. He was beaten over 7l in the Galway Hurdle in receipt of 12lb having beaten Darasso off level weights in a Grade 3 at Tipperary on his previous start. He was off the track from August 2019 until April this year. Christopher Wood has his first run back after a wind op but is best watched. Teqany looks held on previous form with Sceau Royal. Hatcher reverts to hurdles for the first time since September 2018 and has a mark 10lb less than his Chase. It's hard to see him win.
Selection; Sceau Royal
Best Alternative; Belfast Banter
Exeter (Going; Good To Soft)
Haldon Gold Cup (2m1f109y)
Six go to post for this Grade 2 Limited Handicap Chase. Hitman makes his seasonal debut having had a wind op over the summer. He likes to maker the running and travels strongly in his races. He had a bloodless victory first time out last season and then went down by just over 2l to Allmankind off level weights in the Grade 1 Novice at Sandown in December. He was travelling strongly in the Scilly Isles when falling at the 12th then got a confidence booster in a three horse race at Newbury in March and finished the season at Aintree when he faded close home to be third 4l behind the winner. He's only 5yo so open to any amount of improvement and as I write this he's been backed into odds on. Stablemate and winner of last year's renewal Greaneten has to concede 17lb and more to his rivals. He followed up last years win with a second place behind stablemate Politilogue in the Sandown Grade 1 in December. He ran a huge race in the Queen Mother at Cheltenham finishing just 2l back in fourth behind Put The Kettle On. He finished the season beating Altior in the Grade 1 Celebration Chase at Sandown and in the process turned the tables on Put The Kettle On. Both his wins came on Good Ground. Whether he can concede all that weight at this stage of the season is the question. Eldorado Allen got his chasing career off to the perfect start when winning his first two starts although the second one may have been fortuitous with Gumball falling when looking like the winner two out. On his next two starts he was runner up to Shishkin and then on his final race of the season he finished fifth 13l behind Hitman who was in third. On that form and a line through Allmankind he has to find a lot with Hitman. However the stable was out of sorts after Christmas and showed a bit of a return to form with a winner and some nice performances at Carlisle on Sunday. It wouldn't surprise me to see him run a big race. King D'argent was beaten over 2l receiving 11lb by Nuts Well on his only start this season at Kelso in October and the latter was subsequently over 5l behind Allmankind in the Old Roan getting 1lb. It's always dangerous to dismiss the Skeltons in these Graded races and any market moves should be noted. Zonza won a handicap chase at Newbury after finishing 13l behind Allmankind at Warwick with the latter receiving 8lb in a Novice Chase. He then fell at Cheltenham three out when travelling easily. He wasn't seen again until the festival in March where he was badly hampered and dropped to the rear at the ninth and was soon pulled up. He finished the season at Aintree where he was almost 10l back in sixth in a Grade 3 where he was again badly hampered and the jockey lost his irons at the last while staying on. It's possible we haven't seen the best of him yet. Moonlighter returns following a wind op over the summer. His last run was at the Festival where he pulled up in the Grand Annual. Prior to that run he had beaten Dolos getting 14lb off that one. His best run came in this last year when going down by a neck to Greaneteen in receipt of 9lb. He's 11lb better off today but seems to be a drifter in the betting. There seems to be a lot of confidence behind Hitman and he gets the nod with Eldorado Allen maybe the Best Alternative.
Best Alternative; Eldorado Allen
Down Royal (Going; Soft)
Ladbrokes Champion Chase (3m)
Five go to post for this Grade 1 formerly known as the J.N. Wine Chase and they're headed by Gold Cup Winner Minella Indo with Rachel Blackmore on board. This is his first start back since that thrilling victory back in March and it will be interesting to see how fit he strips in the Paddock. Frodon and Bryony Frost won three of their five starts last season but were no match for Minella Indo at Cheltenham finishing a long way back with his stamina running out over the 3m2f. Galvin is six from six since finishing runner up at the Cheltenham Festival in a Novice Handicap Chase in 2020. He's won over all trips from 2m4f to 3m6f so is quite versatile in that regard. His last start was just seventeen days ago which was his first since winning the Grand Annual at Cheltenham in March. He won cosily that day and should come on for the run but whether a fitness edge is enough to bridge the gap in ratings is another question. Delta Work has been a bit disappointing since winning the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown in 2020. He's taken a drop in the ratings and needs to show a bit of sparkle to inspire confidence in him. Ravenhill a third Gordon Elliott runner looks outclassed. It's always difficult to make a prediction first time out but Minella Indo might just have enough with an improving Galvin chasing him home.
Selection; Minella Indo
Best Alternative; Galvin
Join Racing TV Chase (2m3f120y)
A terrible name for a Grade 2 chase but it's graced by the wonderful Envoi Allen who seeks redemption having fallen at Cheltenham and then Pulled Up at Punchestown and was subsequently found to have chipped a bone when he clouted a fence. He'd impressed when winning at this meeting last year and in two subsequent starts so that fall at Cheltenham came out of the blue. Henry De Bromhead's are usually good jumpers and he's sure to have had plenty of schooling prior to this. Gordon Elliot has two in the race. Coko Beach has a fair bit to find on ratings with bhis two wins last season coming over 3m on Heavy going. However as a 6yo he probably has more improvement in him. Vado Forte is an interesting runner. Bought by Gordon Elliott for £20k at Goffs Spring Sale last May having won four time in twenty five starts for Tom Lacey. Most of those runs were over 2m but he did win over 2m3f back in March 2018 which got him a 12lb hike from the handicapper. Interestingly connections started him off over an extended 2m3f at Limerick on his only start for them so far and he sluiced in by 15l from winning in a canter from January Jets who had finished 6l behind Envoi Allen here last year. The other two runners look to have it all to do and as they're Mares connections are probably hoping for a bit of Black Type. For most punters Envoi Allen is too short at 4/11 but it's hard to oppose him with Vado Forte one to watch.
Selection; Envoi Allen
Best Alternative; Vado Forte
Wetherby (Going; Good To Soft)
The West Yorkshire Hurdle (3m26y)
Eight runners go to post for this Grade 2 and it looks a tricky little contest. Paisley Park started off last season in great style going down by less than 2l to Thyne Hill who was receiving 3lb and then turning the tables on him at Ascot winning a Titanic battle by a neck off level weights. That was in December and he wasn't seen again until March in the Stayers where the lay off probably didn't help and he finished 5l back in third behind Flooring Porter. He then pulled up in Aintree. He won off extended breaks on debut on each of the three previous seasons so if he's back to his best that shouldn't be a problem. Thomas Darby hasn't won in five starts since his last success back in January 2020. On his last start he was over 4l back in fourth in the Stayers at Aintree. That was his first attempt at 3m. Master Tommytucker won his only two starts over hurdles back in the Spring of 2018. Since then he's won four of his eleven starts over fences. He's a 10yo but doesn't have many miles on the clock and after he won a Grade 2 at Kempton last January Paul Nicholls said he wouldn't be surprised if he turned up in the King George on Boxing Day. Indefatigable looks held on form but does get a valuable 7lb Mares allowance and she has shortened a bit in the betting. She had a pipe opener for this when winning on the flat over 1m4f at Pontefract four weeks ago. Run For Oscar travels over from Ireland for the canny Charles Byrnes. He won his last two starts, both handicap hurdles, and has gone up 19lb for the privilege. He could have more to give but this is his first time at 3m. Proschema won four of his seven starts for the Skeltons last season, improving all the time. He was fifth at Chepstow on his seasonal debut three weeks ago and with the stable in good form can't be ruled out stepping up in trip for the first time. Ask Dillon reverts to hurdles after a seasonal debut over fences. However he needs to find a bit in this Grade. Slate House reverts to Hurdles having had a few jumping issues over fences. He's also had his wind done three times during his career. Still only 9yo he could be in the mix if anywhere near his best. However he hasn't run since February and is best watched. In a tricky contest it might be worth a little each way on Indefatigable if the eight go to post.
Selection; Indefatigable (Each Way)
Best Alternative; Run For Oscar (Each Way)
Charlie Hall Chase (3m45y)
Seven go to post headed by last year's winner Cyrname. The latter proved himself over the trip that day but disappointed on his two subsequent starts. He had a wind op since and if back to his best could take all the beating. Shan Blue got his chasing career off to a great start winning three on the bounce including the Grade 1 Kauto Star at Kempton. He was beaten over 2m4f next time and was no match for Chantry House in his other two starts. This has been the aim for a while and he's a course and distance winner. Clondaw Castle is a consistent sort and ran a career best when stepping up to 3m under rules for the first time and winning a Grade 3 at Kempton in February. Fusil Raffles steps up to the trip for the first time and warmed up for this at Newton Abbot three weeks ago when he had an impossible task conceding 12lb to Bravemansgame. He's a consistent sort and has only been out of the first two in four of his fourteen starts. Mighty Thunder probably needs another mile according to his trainer Lucinda Russel. Kitty's Light is only 5yo and has room for more improvement but needs a big step forward to figure. On his best form Top Ville Ben would have a chance. He is a three time course and distance winner but has had only one run since January 2020 and that was a pulled up effort at Auteuil last April. Cyrname will be hard to beat if back to his best but I'm prepared to take him on with Shan Blue who impressed me last Autumn.
Selection; Shan Blue
Best Alternative; Fusils Raffles
Down Royal (Going; Soft)
WKD Hurdle (2m190y)
Just five runners go to post for this Grade 2 but in effect it's a two horse race as the other three have 35l and more to find with the top two on ratings. Quilixios who had been entered was ineligible having won in France before the 3 May 2020 and this race is for horses who have not won a hurdle race before that date. Zanahiyr is a top juvenile and won his first three starts over the smaller obstacles, including the Grade 2 Juvenile at the Leopardstown Christmas Festival, before disappointing in the Triumph where he was almost 5l back in fourth behind Quilixios. He then went down by three parts of a length to Jeff Kidder at Punchestown in the Champion 4yo Hurdle. He's rated 146 and has to concede 5lb here to Cask Mate who is rated 139. The latter comes here having had the benefit of a run on the flat where he was impressive when winning a maiden at Bellewstown by an easy 7l. Some might think it strange that he won a flat maiden at 8yo but he has had his problems. Having won his Bumper in 2017 he then finished second on his next four starts before an almost three year break. He resumed last October winning his Maiden Hurdle and followed up with a win at Punchestown before going down by just over 1l to Ballyadam in the Grade 1 Royal Bond at Fairyhouse. He disappointed at the Dublin Festival and was off from then until that victory at Bellewstown thirty days ago. Noel Meade also had Jeff Kidder entered for this so it's interesting that Cask Mate is preferred. Zanahiyr is plenty short enough at 4/9 for his first start of the season and up against a horse with the benefit of a run who is receiving weight which leaves very little between them on ratings so Cask Mate might reward a small interest and is the selection.
Selection; Cask Mate
Aintree (Going; Good)
Old Roan Handicap Chase (2m3f200y)
Eight runners go to post for this Grade 2 and it looks a competitive race. Last year's winner Nuts Well tries to repeat that effort and has followed the same route as last year, winning a Chase at Kelso on his seasonal reappearance at the beginning of this month. He had a break after his win last year and reappeared here at the Grand National meeting where he was no match for Fakir D'oudairies finishing 11l back in second with Itchy Feet over a length back in third. The latter was third in this last year beaten over 2l by the winner where he made a number of jumping errors. He's been schooled extensively for this and wears first time cheekpieces. Allmankind heads the betting and the weights and he was a terrific novice last season winning three on the bounce where his front running tactics over 2m were too much for his opponents. He disappointed in the Arkle at Cheltenham finishing tamely up the Hill which may have found his wind out. He won easily at Ayr next time out last April and then had wind surgery (his second op) over the summer. He reappeared earlier this month at Chepstow finishing just over 1l back in third in a Handicap Hurdle over 2m. He did win on his only start over this trip at Ayr but the conditions of the race greatly favoured him and his main opponent Tamaroc Du Mathin blundered two out and unseated rider when well beaten. The latter makes his seasonal debut here and runs off a nice mark getting 12lb from the top one. He got a 10lb hike for winning at Wincanton a year ago and Paul Nicholls, his trainer, thinks he may be a bit high in the weights. We shall see. Killer Clown progressed through his novice season winning a Chase at Kempton and then going down by 1L in a Grade 3 at Newbury but was slightly disappointing on his next and final start at Sandown. He had a wind op over the summer (his second) so is probably best watched. Fanion D'Estruval was highly touted after winning his first start since arriving from France but has failed to winin six subsequent starts. He's unproven on Good ground but has run well after extended breaks. Huntsman Son is 11yo now and while he has won off a long break last year others are preferred. Midnight Shadow hasn't run since pulling up at Wetherby last February. He was well beaten in this last year when also coming back after a long break. Some might fancy Itch Feet as an each way prospect but I'll take a chance with Nuts Well to repeat last year's win.
Selection; Nuts Well
Best Alternative; Itch Feet (Each Way)
Chepstow (Going; Good)
Persian War Novices Hurdle (2m3f100y)
Eight runners go to post for this Grade 2. Philip Hobbs has won this twice in the last ten years, most recently with Thyne Hill in 2019 and is two handed here. Comprond runs in the J P McManus colours and has plenty of experience winning two of his eight hurdle starts and placed in five others. It's interesting that he was campaigned through the summer albeit lightly as he had won on Soft ground in France. His two wins over hurdles have come on Good and when stepping into graded company at Haydock last May he was unable to concede 8lb to the winner and was 10l back in third on Soft. Hobbs' other runner is Luttrell Lad who won his only start over hurdles having been two from four in Bumpers. His hurdle win came last month at Worcester where he won a poor Maiden by a comfortable 5l. Like his stablemate he steps up in trip here and it's interesting that he's sent here off the back of just one run over the small obstacles. Couer Serin steps up in Grade having won his last three starts, all in handicaps last spring. He rose 23lb in the rankings for those wins and in the last won he beat Valtor who was receiving 10lb which was a career best. He wore first time cheek pieces that day and they're back on for this. Up For Parol won his point last November over 3m. The runner up was a subsequent winner who. was sold to current connections for £135,000. Having been well beaten on his first start over hurdles at an extended 2m3f he dropped back to 2m and won his next two and only starts. this is his first run since April 1st. The Skelton's send Hidden Heroics here for his first start under rules having purchased him for £60k after he won his only Point back in April. Tile Tapper won his Bumper at the second attempt but has failed to win in four subsequent starts over Hurdles. He has a couple of bits of form to suggest there is a decent prize in him. On his first he was beaten into second place just over 5l by the highly rated Metier who was conceding 5lb but was beaten 21l next time by the same horse off level weights in a Grade 1 at Sandown. Tile Tapper then finished third in Taunton novice with the well regarded Alaphilippe 4l in front of him but then disappointed over 2m4f at Sandown where he was struggling after the fourth hurdle. Paso Doble was bought out of Jim Bolger's for €125k having won twice on the flat. Paul Nicholls threw him in at the deep end for his hurdles debut and he was an eyecatcher staying on to be third behind the impressive Tritonic in the Grade 2 Adonis at Kempton having been held up in the rear. He went back there for his next and only other start and won comfortably. He's still only a 4yo. Another 4yo is the lightly raced First Street who was second in his two Bumpers and then won his two starts over hurdles. The first was back in August when he accounted for previous winner Zafar who also won next time out and Fairlawn Flyer who won two starts later. First Street then went to Warwick eighteen days ago where he was a very easy winner by over 8l. I've no strong preference for anything but race fitness might benefit First Street who is also proven over the trip.
Selection; First Street
Best Alternative; Coeur Serein
Champion Chase (2m4f0
Gowran Park (Going; Good)We're back for the new season with out annual opener at Gowran Park this Saturday. The Going could play a part in this and it was good to yielding before racing, today Friday and dried out in the wind to Good. There's about 4mm of rain forecast over night but wheteher the ground will have changed appreciably by post time remains to be seen. Last year's winner, Easy Game returns to defend his title and nice ground is what he requires. He's been well managed over the last year having had eight starts winning a Grade 2 win at Fairyhouse and winning at Listowel a fortnight ago. His Grade 2 win came at Fairyhouse came last April when a mistake at the last didn't help Castlegrace Paddy who finished three parts of a length behind Easy Game off level wights. On his penultimate start, Easy Game went down by 1l to stable companion Royal Rendezvous who was in receipt of 4lb and is actually 1lb better off than that run here. That was in the Galway Plate over an extended 2m6f on Good ground I think on Good ground over this trip Easy Game might just have the edge. Put The Kettle On makes her seasonal debut and Aidan Coleman travels over from England for the ride. Some would argue that she has become a bit of a Cheltenham specialist having won her four starts there but she also ran up a sequence around some sharp tracks in Ireland. She has won off long breaks previously but is up against race fit opponents. Castlegrace Paddy is approaching the veteran stage now but is relatively lightly raced having had just twenty three starts under rules. He's won six of those starts but all have been with Soft and or Heavy in the Going description. He does go well fresh. Hardline hasn't been seen since falling in this race last year and picking up an injury. On ratings he doesn't have much to find but is probably best watched after this long a break. Abbey Magic, stablemate of Put The Kettle On, looks outclassed in this company. If the ground doesn't get soft I think that over this trip Easy Game can shade it.
Selection; Easy Game
Best Alternative; Put The Kettle On