A small, but select field lines up for this Novices Hurdle that sees some of the top yards going head to head. The Paul Nicholls and JP McManus combination looked to have found a superstar in the making with Modus who made easy work of his hurdling debut last time out. The manner in which the five-year-old gelding went bounding clear in the run out that day was most impressive and immediately created a huge buzz for what the horse can achieve in the rest of the season. Today’s race looks like a mere stepping stone for the Nicholls’ high class recruit and he will likely only enhance his growing reputation here with another victory.
The main threat is likely to come from Harry Fry’s Charmix. The five-year-old was a big let down in the bumper at Aintree back in May despite a huge gamble on him that day, but he tore up the form book to see off the useful Ennistown on his hurdling debut at Wetherby last month and he can bring out the best in the selection here today.
The other horse to note in the field is Emma Lavelle’s top prospect See The World. The five-year-old caught the eye when making an impressive debut in a Wincanton bumper back in January despite hanging badly and almost throwing the race away. He has been absent since then and may just be seen in a better light foliowing this outing to blow away the cobwebs.
This looks like a tricky handicap hurdle to solve on the face of it, but one horse in particular comes here in fine fettle and well off at the weights. That horse is the Henry Oliver trained Dazinski. The former Mark Tompkins gelding, who was a useful performer on the flat, has taken his time to adapt to life over timber, but he has slowly but surely got the hang of things and now looks like a progressive prospect for his in-form new stable. He now has back to back wins, 15 months apart, in conditional jockeys’ hurdle races and really caught the eye with the gritty manner of those wins. He comes here off the same mark today, he is entitled to come on from that first race in over a year and providing that just eight days break doesn’t prove too quick for him then he should be tough to peg back in this one.
Neil Mulholland’s yard could not be in any better shape at the minute with some decent winners in recent weeks and his runner Proofreader has made the frame in each of his three runs over hurdles so far. The latest of the six-year-old’s outing saw him pull very hard in the early stages of his race and that eventually cost him as he was beating almost six lengths back in third. He does now the benefit of a nice mark in handicap company so he should run his race, but not sure he has enough improvement in him to trouble the selection off the same mark.
The Sue Smith yard is another who are in fine fettle at the minute so it would be no surprise to see her runner Ourmanmassini run a big race with top young jockey Harry Bannister takes off a useful 5lbs that could see him grab a place at a decent each way price.
This is a tricky little stayers race, but one that offers a nice opportunity for a horse who has found trouble in running in both her previous starts. That horse is the Mark Tompkins trained filly was highly hampered two starts ago when fourth on the track two starts back and the connections must have been cursing their luck again last time out at Wolverhampton, but she kept to her task well to stay on to grab second. She was hampered twice in that race and with a clear run today over her preferred 2m I think she will take all the beating here.
The obvious danger is last time out winner Starcrossed. The Eve Johnson Houghton runner, who is still a lightly raced gelding, landed a five-runner maiden at this track three weeks ago over a shorter distance, and will likely be good enough to once again see off the re-opposing Voice Control over this longer trip. But because of that win she has to concede a shed load of weight to the selection and that should take its toll inside the final furlong.
Michael Bell certainly knows how to train stayers and although Rock of Max is still a maiden after eight races, the three-year-old colt gave the impression that this kind of trip would be right up his alley and so he may well be unexposed at the distance and he can give the selection the most to think about.