The first race of interest is a two-mile Novices’ Hurdle where there are 13-runners set to face the start.
Philip Hobbs and Richard Johnson had a bad Festival last week but their charge Drumlee Sunset can help to change the fortunes of the yard. This six-year-old has run in some good races in his short career so far, which have seen him unseat in a race won by Altior, then was fourth on New Year’s Day to Champers On Ice, who ran a nice race in the Albert Bartlett. His form is stacking up nicely and this son of Royal Anthem looks the one they all have to beat.
Bol D’Air represents top connections but hasn’t shown much in his two starts since joining the Paul Nicholls yard. He’s faded quite dramatically in those races, suggesting a possible problem. He’s had a 58-day break, so something may have been worked on. Celtic Tune was fourth on his British racecourse debut for Jonjo O’Neill behind a likely Aintree winner in Winter Escape; he has two previous starts over obstacles in France. He is one that could improve for his first run in this country.
Paul Webber’s Breath Of Blighty is another contender in this race. His last two starts have seen him finish seventh to Altior and second to Buveur D’Air, who was third in the Supreme. The Kempton race he ran in on Boxing Day does have pretty strong form and with plenty of winners coming out of it he would be listed as the main danger.
Drumlee Sunset (WIN)
We stay in Shakespeare county to take in the staying Handicap Hurdle over three-miles-two-furlongs.
This is an interesting race on paper with plenty that come into the race with chances. Dan Skelton trains not too far away in Alcester and saddles Air Glider, who won a point-to-point on good ground in Ireland in April. The blinkers are put on for the first time after his fall last time out. He’s a half-brother to Leegane, who won over three-miles over fences, so has to be considered.
The other top weight in the contest is Bells Of Ailsworth for the Tim Vaughan yard. He is lightly raced and came close over three-miles at Taunton but was held by Harry Fry’s A Plein Temps. Richard Johnson takes over in the saddle and has previously won on this son of Kayf Tara. Talk Of The South carries a seven-pound penalty for his comfortable success at Plumpton nine-days ago. He could have more to offer at this trip.
Oscars Way returns to the track after an absence of 441-days but is back down to his last winning mark from October 2014. That win came at Huntingdon in similar conditions. That’s his only career win, so if fully tuned up he could run a big race with conditions in his favour. The 11-year-old Minella Bliss is of some interest with his three wins being on better ground. He won off a mark of 96 in November and if you take William Featherstone’s claim today he’s off 90. His recent form figures don’t look appealing but he has stamina, will be suited by the ground and has a very capable conditional in the saddle.
Minella Bliss (E/W)
With it being Easter weekend the Dundalk card has been moved to the Wednesday night and there are some intriguing races.
This one-&-a-half mile race particularly where Lusis Naturea is looking for a hat-trick. His two recent wins have been over ten-furlongs but he has shaped like he’d get further. Oisin Orr gets on well with the horse and takes seven-pound off, which could be crucial to his chances. The slight concern for him would be surrounding the potential lack of early pace.
Emmet Mullins’ four-year-old Bittern ran a good race here over two-miles but didn’t see out the full trip. She won over course and distance in November and the return to this trip is a positive off this mark. She is a former Godolphin horse that failed to hit their heights but she looks very capable of resuming her winning ways in a race of this nature.
Carried must be a frustrating type with the amount of placed efforts to his name. Prunella Dobbs reached for the visor last time when second to Poitin and it remains on for this. He is a quirky type by the antics in the parade ring previously and then the way he hung on the run in when leading. The rider did lose his whip last time, so the outcome may have been different. His two career wins have been over track and trip, one off this mark, so has to come into reckoning.