The first selection comes over the obstacles at Southwell in a two mile-four furlong handicap hurdle.
Brave Spartacus won the Summer Plate when last seen over fences, which is a Listed race. Here he returns to hurdling where he won his two of his last three and drops in class. His latest effort over hurdles saw him finished third behind John Ferguson’s Commissioned and Roman Flight, with the latter winning since. He has previously won off this mark of fences and in a race of this nature you can expect this Keith Reveley nine-year-old to go close.
Paolozzi has been racing in Novice hurdle races and won two from three. In October he raced in a bumper at Cheltenham finishing third to Moon Racer, who returned to that venue to win the Champion Bumper in March. He has been fairly consistent so far and looks to be on the improve, so deserves respect. Champagne Present comes from Jonjo O’Neill’s yard and has finished second twice on his last two efforts at this trip. He was fourth in the Grade 2 Hyde Novices Hurdles behind some nice types in November and that form looks solid enough. He is one that probably is better over further than this trip. After an absence of 162-days he may require the run to strip a bit fitter.
Big Generator is the interesting one. He joined Caroline Bailey in September and had three runs between October to January where he showed very little. After an absence he returned two weeks ago to win in a Claiming Hurdle over this distance at Worcester. During that break the trainer has been doing extensive work with him on flat, jumping and using a physio to treat and strengthen his back – that seemed to work Worcester but this is a different kettle of fish.
Brave Spartacus (WIN)
16:25 Gowran Park
We take a trip across the Irish Sea for our second selection, which comes in a handicap over one-mile-one-furlong.
Could Should Would returns to the track following an absence of over a year. This filly won on her last start at Galway in a maiden that saw Harasava finish sixth on her own debut. She was all out to win that race and is stepping up two furlongs in trip here, which on pedigree should suit with her being a half-sister to Alta Dimensione who won over one-mile-two-furlongs. She may require this run.
Ningxai has been a consistent performer for Ger Lyons this season and this son of Fast Company won a 17-runner maiden at Cork. That maiden hasn’t worked out as expected but the way he won that maiden suggested the step-up in trip should suit. On pedigree he is distantly related to a couple of Group 2 winners over this distance and further. His two recent efforts have come on firmer ground than his win, so the return to ground with a bit of cut in it could see him go close. David Wachman’s Swordfight looks the one to beat on paper after winning at Ballinrobe on heavy ground. This three-year-old kept on well in the ground and got up to win by a neck. The handicapper has only put him up 1lb for that success, so could run another good race here under Wayne Lordan. That race saw him and Aared go head-to-head early on, which saw Swordfight eventually prevail.
Daliyan and King Christophe are both worthy of mentions. The former is a previous course and distance winner. Recently he has been running over further and was a good fourth behind Macnicholosn here at Gowran. With Connor King taking 3lb off he is back to a workable mark and one to consider. King Christophe has recently been running in maiden hurdles and comes back to the level. He’s run in some good races behind the likes of Botany Bay and Radanpour on his last two starts on the flat. He won a weak three-runner handicap at Limerick off a mark of 84. Today he runs off 83 with Gary Halpin taking 5lb off, so that mark looks workable.
We take in some summer jumping for our final selection in a two-mile-seven-furlong Novices Handicap Chase.
Clubs Are Trumps looks the one to beat having won his last two races, including one over course and distance. His mark has gone up another 6lb for that said success and he did it nicely in the end after being pressed by Kilcascan. He jumps well enough but will only do enough to win and one that you couldn’t put confidence in with that sort of attitude.
The value may prove to be with Nick Mitchell’s Foxes Bridge, who won over a further trip at Newton Abbot when last seen. He’s an improving horse and was disappointing in the Hunter Chase sphere. He’s won his last two and seeks the hat-trick. He won here two starts ago when staying on well to deny the in-form Evan Williams’ horse Patricktom Boru. Gavin Sheehan has got the best out of this horse in the last two races, as seen by the form figures, so he’ll be played late.
Cut The Corner has been consistent without winning for Dr Richard Newland. Sam Twiston-Davies takes over in the saddle, which has to be seen as a positive and that could bring about some extra from this runner. This seven-year-old has good form figures but does tend to be well-beaten. He’s got no margin for error off this mark and would possibly be suited by a drop in trip. Down Time has been sent across by John Hanlon for this contest. He’s got Richard Johnson booked to take the ride and the pair teamed up for success with this five-year-old at Newton Abbot last month when routing his rivals. He never really got going when last seen at Killarney but in a race of this weaker nature is worth consideration.
Foxes Bridge (E/W)