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Juvenile Hurdlers 2020/2021

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    This continues to be the best thread on here by a distance, well done

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    I bet there’s very little a sub-editor would need to do in terms of accuracy of information and succinctness of comment either.

    Bachelors Hall
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    Many thanks! As I say, I would like to improve my writing and analysis to the tune of another six months or so as well as see if there are other angles yet to be explored. But if by the time comes, I am happy to put myself out there then it would be worth a shot…

    Couple of interesting races on Saturday with Hell Red, Duffle Coat and Adagio putting their undefeated records on the line at Cheltenham, while a couple of Joseph O’Brien newcomers take on Dark Voyager and Perry Owens at Punchestown. The previews for those races should hopefully be up before Saturday morning. In the meantime, a catch up on this week’s action.

    Poker Master 10/11/2020 Huntingdon 2m4½f Handicap Hurdle
    Poker Master had finished well beaten on his first two outings over hurdles, but left that form well behind on his latest outing at Sedgefield when second to Gold Desert. While the winner ran with credit next time, the third was subsequently disappointing and the race did not look great in any case. His rating ahead of his handicap debut looked reasonable without being generous and there were stamina concerns going into the race. Poker Master opened as one of the favourites on the evening prior but had drifted out to 11/1 by the off. Racing wide and settling in midfield, he jumped well with the only mistake coming at the third where he was close and untidy. He managed to get in touch with the leaders but was one paced from the straight and ultimately finished fifth of the nine finishers. It would have been sixth of ten but for a late faller but while the winner won easily, he was still only three lengths behind the second. With the winning time some ten seconds quicker than the first division, the stamina concerns might have been resolved. While he is not a well handicapped horse, it was a creditable performance and based on his aptitude here, he can at least maintain this standard. 90

    Preview review
    The first two in the prospects list matched the finishing order and there was is little to re-evaluate in this regard. Nuriel ran rather below expectations but those expectations were not high and though he did not perform on the racecourse, he was backed from 66/1 to as low as 13/2. Sure I’m You Man outran his position on the list. His decent overall profile was acknowledged but his prospects were denigrated by his poor flat run. It should have been considered that it was his first flat run for four months and it followed a wind operation.

    Race review
    The race looked fairly weak beforehand and a dawdling early pace did nothing to add substance. There were slow and awkward jumps from most of the runners but this can largely be attributed to the gallop and criticisms regarding same would be harsh. In fairness, there was not much in the way of hard pulling or excessive keenness which generally prevails in this kind of contest. Furthermore, there were sound reasons for the field finishing as they did so while matters of merit and aptitude have not been elucidated, the finishing order looks perfectly rational.

    Pyramid Place came into the race with the prospects of a long odds-on shot, having by far the most superior flat form and hurdles form with scope for plenty of improvement. However, while he started the day at 2/5, he drifted out to 11/10 before starting at evens. He actually drifted out to 8.4 in-running although he never looked beaten at any stage and presumably, this occurred when the runner-up appeared to be travelling slightly the better three furlongs out. Tucked in behind the leaders, Pyramid Place took a bit of a hold just as essentially every runner in the field, but it was still less pronounced than it was on his debut. He was always travelling comfortably enough and his jumping was also better than first time out with the only flaws being that he was slightly skewed over the third, fourth and at three out. He did not show an explosive turn of foot eventually take the lead between the final two flights, but he had a clear lead by the last and stayed on strongly to the line. He did not have to improve from his debut to win this and from a form perspective, this effort was no better than his Lingfield outing. Nevertheless, he will likely perform better in a more truly run race and with a win to his name and a sound aptitude, he can progress from here. 107

    Admiral Balko was the fifth unraced horse from the Williams yard to make his debut in juvenile hurdles this season, and the second to finish runner-up first time. Sharing the pacemaking duties up to the fifth, he established a clear lead shortly after and was the last horse to come off the bridle. He was outpaced by the winner from the distance, but was able to maintain his superiority over the third placed horse. His jumping was decent for a debutant and counted only insignificant errors in the early stages before pressure caused him to be slightly low at the penultimate flight, and close and slow over the last. Due to the race’s composition, the bare form is not worth a great deal. However, it was a perfectly satisfactory introduction and he should benefit for the experience. 103

    Sure I’m Your Man was no better than a fair maiden on the flat for Roger Charlton, and his first run after a break and a wind operation for his new yard saw him well beaten at Newcastle. Nevertheless, he has a respectable pedigree for the discipline and attracted a fair amount of support in the betting. Though he was slightly awkward over the first and rather low at the last, the only real quibble with his jumping was at the third where he steadied on the approach before hopping over the flight. The best of those racing from the rear, he got to within a couple of lengths of the leaders three furlongs out but was unable to keep tabs on them from thereon. Sure I’m Your Man was another who made a satisfactory debut and can be competitive in an ordinary race. However, while he remains relatively unexposed and is bred to develop with age, he lacks the potential of the first two. 99

    The Imposter achieved little during one start in each code at Chepstow. Nevertheless, while he was well beaten last time, he did not jump too badly and apart from steadying at the third, also put in a fair round here. Bred to appreciate cut in the ground, he posted a career best effort, even if it was a one-paced fourth of six. The Imposter remains unexposed and is making progress. While he looks nothing out of the ordinary, he could make an impact in a lesser race where there is more of an emphasis on stamina. 96

    Nuriel was having his third outing just over a month after his debut but while he was well backed on account of his being unexposed and bred to prefer soft ground, he posted what was his worst effort to date. He helped to set the pace but was not particularly fluent and weakened quickly after losing his position at the fifth. While the trainer has gone a while without a winner, it would not be entirely accurate to suggest that his runners are out of form. 63

    Badreputation ran twice in the summer for Marco Botti before joining his new yard for 2,000 guineas. Since then, he was twice well beaten on the flat and was the least fluent jumper on his hurdling debut here. There is little encouragement to be drawn from his profile and he looks rather limited. 43

    Bachelors Hall
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    So I’ve apparently contracted that thing that everybody has an opinion on and am currently enjoying the initial stages of this thing. I have done the preview for the Cheltenham race and if I have the energy, will also do one for the Punchestown contest because it looks very interesting. Failing that however, I will just post something/anything in the morning and that will have to do.

    Cheltenham’s Prestbury Hurdle will be the first graded contest of the season in the division. For as long as there has been a Mackeson Gold Cup, a juvenile hurdle has also been held at the meeting. Prior to its elevation to Grade 2 status in 2004, the last two horses to place in both the Prestbury and the Triumph were Katarino, winner of both events on 1998/99, and Against The Grain who was second in each contest during the 1984/85 season. However, since 2004, the race has produced two Triumph winners (Katchit 2006/07, Defi du Seuil 2016/17), four Triumph seconds (Fair Along 2005/06, Franchoek 2007/08, Barizan 2009/10 and Far West 2012/13) and another five who would finish third including last year’s willer Allmankind. During this time, the Prestbury also had six Finale winners, three winners in the Anniversary and three in Punchestown’s Champion 4YO contest. Although five horses ran into a place in the Fred Winter, none of them won either contest.

    This year’s renewal looks well up to scratch with the two leading juveniles of the season in Duffle Coat and Hell Red set to clash. There is also strength in the line-up with four other winners due to face the starter along with a pair of consistent sorts with placed form. Given the quality of runner Cheltenham typically attracts, the average DIs of 1.00 median and 1.23 mean are already low. Nevertheless, the winning DIs of 0.91 and 0.99 are lower still which is indicitive of the necessity for stamina at the venue. While few would claim that Cheltenham is an especially easy course to jump around, its clear round rate of 97.34% is still one of the highest in the country, suggesting that bad jumpers tend not to get sent to Cheltenham.

    For posterity, here are the current best odds on offer for the Triumph Hurdle

    Hell Red 20/1
    Duffle Coat 33/1
    Adagio 50/1
    Historic Heart 66/1

    Duffle Coat grg Gordon Elliott j3-3-0 (-) 126 137
    Alhebayeb (Sadler’s Wells){4-k}(1.40) 0.5 Starchitect 2nd Summit Juvenile Hurdle (G2), Doncaster 2014
    Duffle Coat had yet to see a racecourse in anger prior to the eighth of September at Punchestown. Nevertheless, in his three outings there, at Gowran Park and last time at Wetherby, he has established himself as a horse of serious promise. During his first two starts in Ireland, he had always travelled comfortably and his jumping at pace had been slick. While he was a big drifter prior to Punchestown and understandably green, he could not have made a more favourable impression as he jumped and travelled very professionally before coasting home by six lengths. The runner-up Crassus has subsequently shown useful form without winning while Scholastic, a subsequent winner was a further seven lengths back in third. After missing a clash with Longclaw at Listowel after being found stiff, he was next seen at Gowran Park where he was sent off a 1/6 favourite. There, his jumping was good and even beautiful at times. He made a couple of errors at the final two flights but those can be attributed to the shifting through the gears that would be less prevalent in a truly run race. He was still a little green when shaken up on the approach to the last, but was otherwise a good traveller and his superiority was far greater than the winning margin of three lengths. Duffle Coat is reportedly not a horse who shows a great deal on the gallops, which may have been a factor of his being passed over by Richard Johnson as well as opening at inflated odds on the eve of the Wensleydale Hurdle. By far the strongest field he had faced to date, it was the first time he had been asked serious questions. Racing wide on the turn for home, he briefly found himself slightly outpaced. However, he responded well to pressure and managed to get into the lead in the shadow of the last. Jumping quicker than the long time leader, he quickly established a definitive lead and ran on well to extend his advantage to eight lengths at the line. His jumping was as good as ever and the only mistake he made came at the sixth where a simple lack of concentration saw him get too close to the hurdle. Three things learned from that exhibition were that he can find plenty off the bridle, he is equally at ease going left or right handed, and that he has no trouble staying a truly ran race on winter ground over hurdles. Duffle Coat still has the scope to improve both physically and mentally which, given that his Wensleydale display was the best form performance of the season thus far, makes him a very exciting prospect for the months ahead. Insofar as tomorrow’s contest is concerned, while Punchestown is an undulating course, it is a gentler beast than Cheltenham. Furthermore, while the five pound penalty does not exceed his superiority over six of his rivals, it could be telling against Hell Red who has raced just the once this autumn and would be entitled to both improve and strip fitter.

    Adagio bg David Pipe f3-1-2 GAG 39.5 (87) 81 j1-1-0 (-) 114 117
    Wiener Walzer (Hernando){9-e}(0.73) 3/3 Labaik 1st Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (G1), Cheltenham 2017
    Since the 2008/09 season, twenty-six horses have been claimed out of French claimers ahead of a juvenile hurdling campaign. While a fair share of them become winners, their overall strike rate is just 7.32% and only Bocamix achieved an RPR exceeding 120. Furthermore, prior to last week, just one had won on their hurdling debuts. Nevertheless, Adagio has already bucked a couple of trends and will bid to further exceed expectations tomorrow. Following two outings as a two-year-old, his first run for the Pavel Vovcenko stable saw him run out a convincing eight length winner of a twelve furlong Clairefontaine claimer under Christophe Soumillon. Behind him that day were four previous winners who each had official equivalent ratings exceeding 70, although the form has not worked out well since, producing only one subsequent winner who scored in a weak claimer at Nimes. Nevertheless, such was his superiority, a rating in the early-mid eighties would be both appropriate and much the highest flat mark in this field. Though he was publicly offered for sale after joining David Pipe for €25,555, he ended up with high profile owners of the yard and the relative of Labaik was a comfortable debutant winner at Warwick last week. Jumping right at the first, he was far from fluent at the second where he also found himself hampered by the faller. Nevertheless, he improved over the next few hurdles and though he was big over the fifth, he was also quick getting from one side to the other. While he took a narrow lead approaching the penultimate flight, his hurdling did deteriorate in the straight as he did not get high two out and made an almighty blunder at the last which also saw him slip on landing and lose momentum. Nevertheless, the runner-up was also untidy at the same flight and Adagio was soon able to establish an ever-widening gap to the line. The negatives of the performance lie primarily in the jumping department but given that he also put in a few good jumps, this should not be a long term issue. In terms of positives, he won well from a couple of potentially useful sorts and while his pedigree is not inundated with plodders, it is stout enough to suggest that he may be seen to even better effect with more cut. Especially given that his Clairefontaine win came on heavy ground. Such ground looks unlikely to meet him tomorrow and though he has every right to improve, he is meeting rivals here who have proven aptitude and are currently superior to the tune of a stone. Furthermore, while David Pipe has saddled two to finish third in this race since 2008/09, he is without a winner from his last twenty-four juveniles at the track.

    Balko Saint bg Mrs Jane Williams j2-0-2 (113) 100 103
    Balko (Saint Des Saints){5-i}(0.71) 2/1 Workbench 3rd Badger Ales Trophy (131), Wincanton 2014
    Similar to Duffle Coat, Balko Saint did not see the racecourse before the beginning of August and both of his have been over hurdles. More a classically bred jumper than a juvenile hurdler, the son of Balko is out of a Saint des Saints mare and is from the family of Workbench and 1976 Grand Steeplechase de Paris winner Piomares (5/1). His debut was a promising second to the penalised Hiconic at Newton Abbot on good ground. He jumped well for the first part of the race and while he began to make mistakes as the tempo increased, he was good over the final two and acquitted himself well on the run to the line. While he could not match the winner for pace, he was able to keep dual subsequent winner Talking About You at bay. Following a two month break, he reappeared at Fontwell to post an improved effort on a very different surface. Apart from getting close to the fourth, he put up a good round of jumping until he skewed and landed wrong over the last, costing him the lead and valuable momentum. While he was not travelling better than the winner, See The Eagle Fly, she was reticent about overtaking him in and it was largely greenness that prevented him from capitalising on the situation. Balko Saint is more a long term prospect than most in this division and although he does not appear to have the scope of a proper class horse, he has shown enough to suggest that he can win races as he matures. Tomorrow’s race might be too much too soon in this company as he has plenty to find on bare form. However, the yard did send Pistolet Noir to win this in 2009 as well as saddling Coo Star Sivola and Diable de Sivola ahead of their finishing runner-up in the 2015 and 2016 editions so a big run can not be entirely ruled out.

    Billy The Squid bg Fergal O’Brien f3-0-0 (47) 34 j6-0-3 (107) 94 111
    Requinto (American Post){19}(0.43) 2/1 Edylan 1st 5YO Conditions Hurdle, Angers 2019
    Making his flat debut in June, Billy The Squid achieved little in three starts for George Scott and his hurdling/stable debut at Market Rasen appeared to foretell a similar fate in his new vocation. However, he surpassed himself when fourth next time at Newton Abbot behind Hiconic and Balko Saint, and has been a credit to connections on his subsequent four outings. While he has yet to win a race, he would have made the frame on each occasion but for unseating at Southwell three runs ago and posted a new career best behind Hell Red at Chepstow last month. It has become customary for him to lack fluency as well as come off the bridle and lose touch some way from home. However, he plugged on to finish third with nearly ten lengths in hand over Jersey Grey who won next time at Lingfield. Fergal O’Brien’s only juvenile hurdler to have ran at Cheltenham finished last of eight finishers in the 2011 edition of this contest. As much as Billy The Squid is a likeable if enigmatic type, he does look quite exposed and would be a surprise winner of this contest.

    Cabot Cliffs chg Dan Skelton f4-0-0 (66) 68 j2-1-1 (125) 119 129
    Gleneagles (Halling){9-f}(0.71) 2/1 Rougham 1st Juvenile Hurdle, Newbury 2010
    The only horse in the field who sold at public auction while in training, Cabot Cliffs left the Charlie Hills for 18,000 guineas at the Tattersalls July sale. A 66 rated maiden after four starts on the flat, while his latest effort in the sphere saw him beat just one of his five rivals home, it was still probably his strongest showing. Despite being gelded earlier in the year, he still saw fit to wander all over the place and his questionable attitude remained in place for his jumps debut at Uttoxeter in the middle of August. He pulled extremely hard in the opening stages and though he was eventually a decisive winner, his high head carriage and wandering on the run-in were not endearing. He got in close to the first and skewed his way over it but apart from being slightly awkward in the straight, his jumping was fine for the most part. With his two market leaders running below their best, he did not have a great deal to beat. Nevertheless, it was a new career best and he improved further next time in the Wensleydale Hurdle. The misgivings persisted through the opening stages as he pulled hard early on, was awkward at the first and close at the second. He was awkward again at the third but he was also quick and after being allowed to move forward to track the leaders, he considerably improved his jumping. Keeping his prominent position, he stayed on well in the straight to remain within a couple of lengths of the leaders at the last. Though he made a careless error, he looked held at the time and there were still signs of his ungainly method of travelling under pressure. This may simply be his nature and though there is little reason for him to reverse placings with Duffle Coat, it is still a good level of form. His stable won this contest last year with Allmankind and enjoyed a winner and a second on the first day of the meeting.

    Hell Red grg P Nicholls j2-1-1 (-) 118 135
    Martaline (Muhtathir){1-t}(0.45) 1/1 Hell Boy Grande Course de Haies de Compiegne (G3), Compiegne 2019
    Paul Nicholls has regularly used the Prix Rush, a newcomers race held at Auteuil in March, as a source of juvenile hurdles over the years including Cerium, Vol Solitaire, Romain de Senam and Pic d’Orhy. Buiseness Sivola and Kentucky Hyden are other recent graduates of the race to have made an impact as juveniles in the UK and Ireland. This season’s renewal was fought out by a pair who would both join the Paul Nicholls yard. Winner Monmiral, seen more of a chasing type, initially had the Prestbury Hurdle as a target but instead, team Ditcheat will be represented by the runner-up Hell Red, who made a most impressive UK debut at Chepstow five weeks ago. He settled quickly in the front and his jumping was clean throughout. When the pace picked up turning for home, he was electric and while he was slightly close to the penultimate flight, it did not affect his momentum. He wandered slightly approaching the last and rather dived at the hurdle, but this merely suggests that he can improve further with experience. Hell Red’s enthusiasm, aptitude and speed made him look like an alien compared to anything else seen beforehand in the division. His superiority over his rivals was far greater than the winning margin and the only question is to what extent. He did not win the race hard held but he was never asked to extend out of second gear either, and with the race in safe keeping after the last, was eased approaching the line. History has a tendency to repeat itself and it is amusing that two of Paul Nicholls’ previous winners of this race trod similar paths. In 2010, Sam Winner finished second in the Prix Rush, two years ahead of Far West completing the Chepstow/Cheltenham double. Hell Red faces a serious rival in Duffle Coat, but the receipt of five pounds could make the difference if class alone is not sufficient.

    Historic Heart chg Nigel Hawke f4-0-1 (75) 65 j4-2-1 (118) 105 123
    Fracas (Giant’s Causeway){14-c}(1.00) 3/1 Direct Lady 3rd Festival Hurdle Leopardstown 1992
    Running once for Jim Bolger as a two-year-old, Historic Heart ended a three race spell on the flat for Nigel Hawke with a rating of 75. While this mark almost certainly flatters him, he has shown himself a fair recruit to the sphere. Following a reasonable debut behind Soldier On Parade at Market Rasen, he shed his maiden tag next time at Sedgefield ahead of Talking About You. Though he was beaten a fortnight later in a Fontwell handicap off 110, he posted a new career best last time out at Wetherby. Things fell perfectly for him on that occasion and though he was the only horse with hurdling experience in the field, it looked a decent performance based on the flat ratings of his rivals. However, the subsequent form of that race has not been great, with the second and third well held by Duffle Coat next time, and the remaining seven horses who have since been seen each beaten by at least fourteen lengths next time. Nigel Hawke did send Repetitio to finish third in this race last season ahead of a win at the December meeting and Historic Heart does have a good aptitude and attitude. Nevertheless, he would still likely be a class below the best of these.

    Jersey Grey grg Alexandra Dunn f5-0-0 (48) 52 j2-1-0 (-) 97 107
    Rajsaman (Peintre Celebre){16-h}(0.74) 0.5 Grand Banks 1st 4yo Conditions Hurdle, Compiegne 2018
    Jersey Grey earned a rating of just 48 on the flat for Jamie Osborne and was sent off at 125/1 at Chepstow ahead of his hurdles debut. Though he was truly outclassed in the race, finishing twenty-three lengths behind Hell Red, there was little to complain about insofar as his jumping was concerned. His hurdling ability paid dividends when winning next time at Lingfield three weeks ago. Though he got slightly close to the first and fifth, and was not especially fluent at the final two, his round was still the cleanest in the field. Tracking the leaders throughout, he jumped into the lead at the penultimate flight and while his lead was being eroded on the run in, he had just enough left to repel his challenger who solidified the form by winning at Bangor earlier this week. Jersey Grey obviously has a future in the discipline and has been described by his trainer as one of the toughest in her yard. However, as laudable as he may indeed be, he has a great deal to find with Hell Red on their Chepstow outing.

    Strong prospects
    1. Hell Red
    Reasonable prospects
    2. Duffle Coat
    Feasible prospects
    3. Cabot Cliffs
    4. Adagio
    5. Balko Saint
    Moderate prospects
    6. Historic Heart
    7. Billy The Squid
    8. Jersey Grey

    Bachelors Hall
    • Total Posts 1467

    Today’s juvenile hurdle at Punchestown has been a constant feature of the Morgiana Hurdle meeting. However, despite the prestige of the meeting and of the racecourse, this particular contest has a surprisingly modest recent history. Balapour was third here in 2001 ahead of a fourth in the Triumph while in 2003, Top Strategy was seventh here before finishing third at the festival. Since then, Landofhopeandglory, winner in 2018, is the only horse to have gone to the Triumph from this race, finishing fifth. Nevertheless, while this particular contest is a few pounds short of a standard Punchestown race, its winners’ mean seasonal RPR of 125.75 still makes it a well above average type affair. While there are two winners in the line-up, the horses who attract more interest would be the Willie Mullins runner-up behind Zanahiyr, and the newcomers from the Joseph O’Brien and Jessica Harrington yards. The ability to jump around Punchestown is valuable as its clear round rate of 95.51% is in the lower third. Furthermore, with the going forecast as soft to heavy, stamina will be even more of an asset at what is already a fairly testing racecourse. Though it looks to be very competitive at this juncture, an impressive performance could make an impact on the Triumph markets.

    Dark Voyager 40/1
    Rock Chica 40/1
    Flying Scotsman 50/1

    Perry Owens bg Noel Meade f7-0-1 (66) 74 j2-1-1 (-) 113 113
    Free Eagle (Time For A Change){9}(1.53) 2/1 Parker Ridge 1st Claiming Chase, Cagnes Sur Mer 2019
    Perry Owens made his hurdles debut at Ballinrobe in August where he overcame a lack of fluency and balance to rally into third place at the line. It was not an especially strong contest and it was followed by a lacklustre effort on the flat. However, following a two month break, he returned to hurdling at Galway where he was able to land a maiden hurdle. While he was close to the second before hopping over the flight, his jumping was much better than on his debut and did well to overcome an error at the penultimate hurdle. Wearing blinkers for the first time, he raced prominently from the off but ended up getting outpaced with three furlongs to run. His error two out cost him further momentum but after regaining his stride, he stayed on strongly and after a clean jump at the last, maintained the pressure on the leader before getting the better of him near the line. The quality of the form was essentially upheld as several of the beaten runners ran at Fairyhouse last week. However, Perry Owens himself was since beaten in a flat handicap at the Curragh at the beginning of the month. While he is a capable of running well under a penalty in ordinary company, it poses a difficult task here.

    Boom Boom Boom chg C Byrnes f4-0-0 (52) 52 j2-0-1 (-) 104 111
    Raven’s Pass (Echo Of Light){8-d}(1.55) 2/1 Cubomania 2nd Dan Moore Memorial Handicap Chase (139), Fairyhouse 2019
    Though he achieved little in four runs on the flat prior to fetching 6,000 guineas at auction in August, Boom Boom Boom was not beaten far on his hurdles bow at Killarney. His jumping was rather cautious on that occasion and there was a lack of fluency next time at Sligo when third behind Glorious Zoff, although his tendency there was more to get close to his hurdles. The best of those to come from the rear, he entered the battle for third three furlongs from home before securing that position at the last from Battle Of Benburb. It was a new career best by a fair margin, but though he has scope for further improvement, he would have a fair to find with a few of these.

    Dark Voyager bg W P Mullins f7-1-1 (78) 76 j1-0-1 (-) 127 128
    Raven’s Pass (Montjeu){7-a}(0.83) 0.5 A Wave Of The Sea 1st Spring Juvenile Hurdle (G1), Leopardstown 2020
    The record of Willie Mullins with juvenile hurdlers is outstanding and his figures are the best available in this field across all metrics. He has only had one runner in the division this season, coming in the shape of this half-brother to A Wave Of The Sea who was runner-up behind Zanahiyr at Ballinrobe last month. Setting a steady gallop, he jumped well at all but the final obstacle where he took off a little too early and stuttered slightly on landing. He wandered slightly approaching the fifth, which was by the paddock turn, and though he appeared to be travelling best approaching the last (trading as low as 1.2 in running), he did not appear to give his all on the battle to the line. These quirks are not massive concerns, although they may be instrumental in making the difference when a thorough effort is essential. Indeed, this was conspicuous on his penultimate flat start where he was quick to throw in the towel against Flying Scotsman at Galway, who now has a further seven pound pull at the weights. Dark Voyager has the benefit of experience and has already attained a good level of form over hurdles. However, whether that will be sufficient to reverse flat form with Flying Scotsman remains to be seen.

    Druid’s Altar bg Joseph Patrick O’Brien f5-1-2 (86) 79
    Mastercraftsman (Sadler’s Wells){13-c}(1.20) 0.5 Waterlord 4th Rossington Main Novices Hurdle (G2), Haydock 2018
    One of two entries for Joseph O’Brien, Druid’s Altar did not appear on the flat until the middle of June when third in a Fairyhouse maiden over twelve furlongs. That was the distance he contested all of his races and a fifth and a sixth at in a couple of maidens in July were enough to withdraw him from the Tattersalls August sale. Though he came out of his fourth race yet to win, his retention looks most vindicated in hindsight as he went down by just half a length to Golddragon Reef while conceding five pounds. Golddragon Reef was just over a length third next time at the Curragh, receiving five pounds from Breeders Cup Mile winner Order Of Australia. While this strand of form should not be taken too literally, it is indicative of a fair level of class which was finally rewarded with a win last time out at Listowel. Racing at the front of the field throughout, he travelled well turning for home and was kept up to his work to win by nearly three lengths from subsequent maiden winner La Joya. Sire Mastercraftsman is one of the most successful stallions in the sphere and as well as being a half brother to fair novice hurdler Waterlord, Druid Altar’s granddam was a half-sister to the good juvenile hurdler Yeoman’s Point who, incidentally, was trained by Aiden O’Brien. Already a winner on heavy ground and with fair flat form to his names, there are few boxes left unchecked by Druid’s Altar and he comes into the race worthy of attention.

    Flying Scotsman bg Joseph Patrick O’Brien 6-2-0 (87) 86
    Galileo (Mastercraftsman){1-w}(0.60) 3/1 Sir Frank Morgan 1st Novices’ Hurdle, Exeter 2015
    The other Joseph O’Brien newcomer, Flying Scotsman has been loitering in the Triumph Hurdle markets ever since he landed a quickfire double at the Galway Festival at the end of July. The first of those victories came over an extended twelve furlongs on soft ground where he was a comfortable three length winner. Dark Voyager was second that day while the fourth and sixth are subsequent dual winners. The following day, Flying Scotsman defied the six pound penalty to emerge the best of a four way battle over a trip half a mile shorter. His three main rivals that day have all maintained their form, with two of them subsequent winners. Galileo’s record as a sire in the division is not as remarkable as his flat exploits, but it is still above average, and Mastercraftsman has made a good start as a damsire with two winning juveniles from four thus far. Flying Scotsman possesses a blend of speed and stamina, is capable of performing on soft and holds Dark Voyager on flat form. There are concerns over his three month layoff but the yard does produce first-time-out winners and he comes into the race with a very sound profile.

    Ilmig bg Mrs John Harrington f2-1-1 (-) 83
    Galileo (Empire Maker){A4}(0.96) 3/2 Lorikeet 2nd Maiden Hurdle, Listowel 2005
    Originally starting off with Aiden O’Brien, Ilmig would join Jessica Harrington prior to making his racecourse debut at Thurles early last month. In a two mile contest comprised primarily by fairly useful national hunt horses, Ilmig ran green and was no match for dual hurdle winner Arcadian Sunrise. Nevertheless, he still had three lengths in hand over the remaining eleven rivals and he got off the mark at the second time of asking three weeks ago in fourteen furlong maiden at Navan. Another contest which was essentially a bumper with starting stalls, he made headway from midfield before leading within the final furlong win by a length from winning hurdler Jesse Evans with Tiger Roll nearly thirty lengths behind in sixth. Ilmig did reportedly hang left throughout according to his jockey, which will not be helpful around Punchestown. Another son of Galileo, Ilmig is out of 2010 Spinster Stakes winner Acoma – herself a half-sister to Arch and a granddaughter or dual Grade One winner Althea. While predominantly American pedigrees are not optimal for the sphere, thoroughbred family A4 has had a couple of winning juvenile hurdlers. Jessica Harrington has a good record in the division historically and while she has enjoyed more success on the flat in recent years, she did land this race two years ago with Got Trumped.

    Rock Chica bf Thomas Mullins f6-0-0 (38) 40 j2-1-0 (-) 104 105
    Rock Of Gibraltar (Bahri){1-l}(1.86) 2/1 Chica Buena 1st Fillies’ Juvenile Hurdle (Listed), Aintree 2018
    Rock Chica achieved next to nothing in her six outings on the flat, but she made a reasonable start to her hurdling career at Punchestown in late September. Though she made a few blunders there, she also showed some aptitude and would obliterate her opponents next time out in a fillies’ maiden hurdle at Tipperary. Apart from getting slightly close to the sixth, put in another decent round of jumping. Racing prominently from the beginning of the back straight, she jumped into a clear lead three out. After being ridden into the penultimate flight, was kept up to her work before coasting home from the last with an unassailable lead, giving her rider his first winner under rules. Quite what she achieved is difficult to assess as she was the only runner in the field who went through the ground and none of her rivals have been seen since. It is unlikely that the form amounts to much, and while she will enjoy the ground and is going in the right direction, she will do extremely well to win in this company.

    Speak Now bg Brendan W Duke Unraced
    Vocalised (Princely Heir){7-a}(3.80) 1/1 Let The Heirs Walk 1st Novices’ Hurdle, Warwick 2020
    At 2.38%, Vocalised has one of the poorest strike rates in the division. Nevertheless, his sole winning juvenile hurdler, Leagan Gaeilge, came under the care of Brendan Duke and two others from the sire/trainer combination have been placed in the sphere. The next such representative is set to be his racecourse debutant Speak Now. A brother to winning hurdler Let The Heirs Walk, he is also a half-brother to Punch Bag while the useful jumps stallion Assessor appears on the damline at 3/2. However, these factors are rather trivial when put in the context of the race’s quality, and the poor record of racecourse debutants in juvenile hurdles.

    Strong prospects
    1. Flying Scotsman
    Reasonable prospects
    2. Dark Voyager
    3. Druid’s Altar
    Feasible prospects
    4. Ilmig
    Moderate prospects
    5. Perry Owens
    6. Rock Chica
    7. Boom Boom Boom
    Negligible prospects
    8. Speak Now

    Bachelors Hall
    • Total Posts 1467

    Willie Mullins’ Youmdor is declared to run at Gowran Park on Friday while Monmiral and Ronde De Nuit hold entries for Exeter’s Juvenile on Sunday. Previews will be up when they are up but for now, it is time for another mass review dump…

    Preview review
    While the second and third prospects would have matched the finishing positions had Overpriced Mixer not lost his jockey, there were a few fairly wild inaccuracies. Talking About You came into the race unexposed but despite being firmly beaten at Fakenham, there were signs that her wind operation could have been beneficial as her jumping and travelling had improved. Mr Shady had been given negligible prospects and was beaten by almost twenty lengths. Nevertheless, his breeding was not atrocious and he still ran into the frame on six occasions on the flat. Top prospect Numberoneson had a caveat within his profile, namely a high head carriage, but that alone would not fully explain why he ran and travelled nowhere near as well as his ability entitled.

    Race review
    This race is generally one of the stronger juvenile contests held at the track during the season and this year’s renewal looked up to scratch. The winner came as something of a surprise at 20/1 but she had previously won from the front and had been progressive over the summer. The pace set was very solid with the winning time nearly three seconds faster than the opening maiden. The finishing order was easy enough to accept and though a couple of newcomers can improve for the experience, and that there is no reason to assume the quality is discernibly better than average, the form should be fairly reliable.

    Talking About You was the most experienced hurdler in the field by a considerable margin and was able to win her second race on her seventh outing in the sphere. Generally progressive on her first three outings, a dip in form prompted a break and a wind operation. There were signs of improvement on her return at Fakenham and the benefit of same was seen to its fullest effect here. Talking About You developed a reputation as a bit of a “madam” and she shied away from the tapes at the off here. However, she asserted herself from the outset and led at a good gallop. Though she went left at the first, her jumping was always quick and even though she got in close at the fourth, third and second last flights, she did not lose any momentum in the process. Her task was made simpler when the favourite unseated after the second last, but he was not closing on the run to that flight. Furthermore, given how strongly she ran to the line, it would have taken a good horse to catch her. This marks a new career best for Talking About You and while her rise of seventeen pounds in the ratings might look harsh, it is broadly in keeping with what she achieved here. Life will be more difficult for her under a double penalty and her new mark offers little wriggle room. Nevertheless, she still pose a threat when in this type of mood and would not be without a chance of picking up black type should she go to Aintree in a couple of weeks. 116

    Naizagai made a compelling start to his hurdles career at Cartmel when making all to win comfortably. However, following a seventy day break and a wind operation, he failed to match that effort at Uttoxeter where he jumped poorly and introduced a tendency to hang. Held up on this occasion, neither of those traits were prevalent as he travelled well and posted the cleanest round in the field. He was slightly keen in the early stages but nothing that would warrant concern, and made good headway along the back straight. He never really looked like reaching a challenging position and was fairly one paced on the home stretch. Nevertheless, while he could not match the winner, he comfortably passed and held the third and was not given a hard ride during the final furlong. It looks most likely that his win at Cartmel was somewhat deceptive due to the nature of how the race fell, but this effort is close enough to the impression he made and his being dropped a couple of pounds by the handicapper could be a generous move. Finishing in the first three on all but one of his starts under rules, Naizagai is a consistent sort and it is encouraging that the potential foibles which manifested at Uttoxeter were not replicated. 114

    State Crown was a lightly raced maiden on the flat for Charlie Appleby who achieved a rating of 78 prior to joining Evan Williams. Apart from getting somewhat close to the second and third, there was little to complain about in the jumping department and he travelled kindly from a prominent position throughout. Nevertheless, while this was a perfectly satisfactory hurdling debut, he was still some way off his flat best. This can be attributed to inexperience to a degree, but more conspicuous was his tendency to hang left. State Crown emerges as a horse of potential and it will be intriguing to see what he might achieve going the other way round. 104

    Mr Shady‘s flat career garnered a win and five places in low grade races either side of the channel. Representing a trainer who has gone a very long time without a winner over hurdles, Mr Shady made errors at half of his jumps yet was still just about in touch with the leading group turning for home. On breeding, he is entitled to take to the discipline and though he was beaten nearly twenty lengths, the performance broadly matches his latest flat mark. He is unlikely to excel beyond this kind of level, but he can be competitive in a modest contest with further experience. 98

    Asharann ran for the Aga Khan in France and left his birthplace with a flat rating of approximately 80. He was easy to back ahead of his hurdles debut at Huntingdon where his performance was lacklustre. Sent off at 150/1, Asharann made good progress from the rear and went as low as 32 in running. However, he was readily outpaced turning for home and was allowed to finish the race in his own time. Apart from getting close to the penultimate flight when well beaten, his jumping was perfectly fine and his tendency to pull was not very apparent. There is little to get excited about over his bare form, but if he runs to a similar level next time then he may potentially be a well handicapped horse. 74

    Numberoneson came into the race on the back of a win in a Leopardstown handicap for Joseph O’Brien and had joined a yard with a good record in the division. However, while he set off in a prominent position, he was losing places before the field had even turned away from the stands. He was still in touch turning for home but had no pretentions of making an impact and would finish both tired and tailed off. Apparently, he has been schooled with an eventer but Numberoneson must not have been paying attention as there were only two hurdles that he jumped with real fluency. By any measure, this was a disappointing debut but there could well have been something amiss so a better assessment can be made after another run. 73

    Theocrat‘s hurdling debut came at this venue five weeks earlier but while he was keep early and made a few errors, his was not a lamentable effort. However, though his jumping was slightly better on this occasion, his excitability was not and he was spent before the turn for home. Theocrat can do better than this, but he may first have to go on a date with a pair of scissors. 48

    Can’t Stop Now ran a fair race on his hurdles debut behind Overpriced Mixer at Kempton in spite of a reluctance to settle. However, the reapplied hood was not enough to prevent him from whipping round at the start and effectively refusing to race. 0

    Lord P won twice on the flat and his best form would have made him of interest in lesser company. However, his general profile was patchy and after being keen early on, was on the way to finishing a tailed off last before pulling up two out. 0

    Carlofantastico finished tailed off on his sole run on the flat in September but his pedigree gave him a semblance of hope. However, he was not fluent in the rear and was the first horse to become truly detached before pulling up at the end of the back straight. 0

    Overpriced Mixer made a winning start to his jumps career at Kempton, although it was not entirely straightforward as a mistake at the last saw his rider complete the race without irons. Bypassing the Grade 2 at Cheltenham for this weaker contest, his jumping was slightly worse and he was awkward over several of these. He did not get particularly high over the penultimate flight, but it was a slight slip a couple of strides afterwards which caused him to lose Nico de Boinville. It can not be said for certain that he would have won or lost this race as he was still in contention and given he was running fairly green in the straight, may have found more for getting a good stride. However, the winner had made ground on him on the run to two out and she also ran on strongly all the way to the line so on balance, Overpriced Mixer would likely have finished second. He is clearly a capable sort but he is not without his quirks. Furthermore, even if there is development in his jumping and attitude, it is improbable that he is anything approaching top class. 108

    Preview review
    Hell Red ran a race which was too bad to be true. Duffle Coat was not as impressive as he had been at Wetherby but it is pointless attempting to speculate whether or not Hell Red could have taken advantage in better spirits. Beyond that, Duffle Coat was clear ahead of his rivals on the prospects lists, the next three places were filled by the feasible prospects and the remainder finished in the correct order.

    Race review
    The Prestbury Hurdle had by far the strongest field assembled in the division to date and apart from Hell Red’s underperformance, the finish was contested by horses who had every right to be involved. The official going was good to soft but it was changed to soft after the third race and would continue to deteriorate over the weekend. As such, these conditions in conjunction with the course’s configuration will have been unlike anything faced by these young horses. Although this saw improvement from the second and third, the remainder of the field, including the winner, did not go through the race as well as they had on previous outings. Nevertheless, the pace was strong and the winning time matched that set in the novices’ handicap hurdle which closed the card on the first day of the meeting. So while it is not a given that the finishing orders and margins would be replicated in different conditions, they can be taken at face value in the context of this race.

    Duffle Coat began his career in early September and had yet to taste defeat in three outings to date. His first two victories came easily at Punchestown and Gowran Park and while he had to work harder last time in the Wensleydale Hurdle, his superiority was enough to mark him as a most exciting prospect. The ability to travel strongly had been a feature of all of his races to date, but he was being pushed along from as early as the second flight here and still had six rivals ahead of him at the top of the hill. He moved into third position turning for home and finally hit the front with a furlong to go before extending his superiority to five lengths at the line. Apart from landing steeply at the last, his jumping was as good as ever but visually, this was his least impressive performance to date as he never picked up the bit. It can not go unsaid that he is not tough and he has now won on a range of surfaces, on courses flat and undulating in either direction while finding plenty for pressure. His capacity has yet to be fully revealed and his place near the head of the Triumph market is justified. Duffle Coat still needs to prove he is worthy of a single digit price for that race and he may prefer the ground to have less juice in it come March. Nevertheless, it is difficult to fault a perfect record and he remains an exciting prospect for the months ahead. 134

    Adagio‘s hurdling debut came just eight days prior at Warwick where he overcame some sloppy jumping late on to score by over seven lengths. Settling in midfield here, he still lacked fluency on numerous occasions as he was slightly close to the first and fourth, closer still at three out, and he went through the top of the final two flights, getting away slowly from the last. He moved into the lead turning for home, but would be passed at the furlong marker and was unable to quicken from there. It was an improved performance on ground which will have served him much better than what he went through at Warwick. This was only his third start in 2020 and while the bare form is short of top class, he has the scope to improve into a useful juvenile. Particularly on softer ground. 124

    Balko Saint had been placed on both of his starts to date and he repeated the trick here, far surpassing his previous achievements. There had been improvement from the good ground at Newton Abbot to the soft he encountered at Fontwell and he was one of those who enjoyed the conditions here. A last flight error cost him his chance on his latest outing but while this was not a perfectly fluent round, his jump at the last here was the best of the leaders. The front two had gotten away from him at this point, but he stayed on past the beaten Cabot Cliffs. There were still signs of inexperience but he clearly has some ability and an ordinary race should be well within his compass. 120

    Cabot Cliffs jumped awkwardly in the opening stages at Wetherby behind Duffle Coat, but his aptitude improved when allowed his head and he was allowed to run freely from the outset here. While he was big at the first, the only errors he made from there were not seeing the fourth until too late, and a tired jump at the last. His tendency to wander was apparent throughout as was his high head carriage under pressure. This did not match his Wetherby outing but it was still a reasonable performance. Despite his foibles, he should continue to hold his own on a less demanding track. 114

    Historic Heart has already collected victories at Sedgefield and Wetherby. The latter represented a new career best although things did fall perfectly for him and he jumped and travelled at his absolute best. While he was alright getting over these hurdles, he did not always do so in a straight line – going right at the first and third, and left at the fifth and seventh. His jump at the last was a tired one and while he was closing on Cabot Cliffs, the aforementioned was a spent force. He will be difficult to place either under a double penalty, or his handicap mark of 118 as only his best on optimum conditions will see him overcome either burden. 112

    Billy The Squid has been an admirable type in ordinary races during the summer, and ran a career best on his latest start at Chepstow behind Hell Red. While a flat spot from which he recovers is customary in his races, he generally remained on the bridle before being dropped on merit. There were a few errors but it was still as good a round as any for him. This was his worst effort since his debut however and while he has the ability to win a race, modest contests will become rarer as the season progresses. 82

    Jersey Grey outran his 125/1 odds at Chepstow on his hurdling debut and showed that was no fluke when scoring from a subsequent winner at Lingfield next time. However, his jumping was nowhere near as clean on this occasion and he was beaten a long way from home. There were no obvious excuses apart from the gulf in class and he will be happier returned to calmer waters. 26

    Hell Red was exhilarating on his UK debut at Chepstow as he raced enthusiastically and jumped better than anything seen beforehand before winning with the utmost ease. However, it was clear from the start that this was not the same horse as he skewed over the first two before steadying into the third. While his jumping was better from there, it still completely lacked the zest of his Chepstow round and after being slow away from two out, was soon pulled up. It was reported after the race that he had made a respiratory noise. Should this be the main reason for his underperformance then it is not a difficult issue to resolve and his drift out to 50/1 in places for the Triumph could be premature. 112

    Preview review
    This would be one of those instances where the market was especially informative, particularly in its indication of Flying Scotsman’s underperformance as he went from sharing favourtism to quadrupling in price. Conversely, Ilmig, whose opening 12/1 was too big, was backed down to 9/4 at the off. In terms of the result itself, Druid’s Altar’s estimation was scant only on the prospects list as his profile very much anticipated a strong showing. In truth, either one of the O’Brien horses could have gotten the nod, and it was only the line through Dark Voyager which made the difference. In hindsight, Druid Altar’s proven ability to perform on heavy should have been afforded more credence. Perry Owens was underestimated, although his finishing third is owed largely to the fatigue of his rivals.

    Race review
    While this contest takes place during one of the more high profile meetings of Punchestown’s season, it is historically a few pounds short of the typical race at the venue. This season’s renewal featured several runners with the potential to be above average. However, given that these horses all finished tired, the form must be treated with some scepticism. There was also a concertina effect at the second flight which appeared to knock the stuffing out of at least one of the leading contenders. The pace set by the winner was not an idle one, but the winning time was still some four seconds slower than the preceding rated novice hurdle. Provided this race does not leave too much of a mark, it could still transpire that a few of these end up being useful sorts. But for now, the form ought only be approached by its own substance rather than its potential.

    Druid’s Altar broke his maiden at the fifth time of asking when last seen on the flat in late September. That win came on heavy ground in a twelve furlong Listowel maiden, but his second in a similar contest at Bellewstown a month earlier makes for interesting reading as a literal line through the winner there puts Druid’s Altar just three pounds behind Breeders’ Cup Mile hero Order Of Australia. While that form does not make Druid’s Altar a temporarily shy Group One horse, it does justify his official flat mark of 86 and the fact he achieved same on heavy ground bodes well for the upcoming months. Either holding or disputing the lead with Perry Owens, he helped to set a searching pace which left the field with no hiding place. His jumping was not particularly fluent however which often handed the initiative to his more experienced rival. He was big at the first, got in close to the third, and he steadied into four of the flights including at the second where he caused some impromtu bunching in behind. Notwithstanding, he burned off Perry Owens leaving the back and he was able to distance himself from Ilmig’s challenge before entering the straight. Though he was slow over the last, so too were the rest of his opponents and he maintained his lead to the line. Given the nature of the race, he largely won by sheer virtue of being the best in the ground and his achievement can not be exaggerated as he also finished quite tired. Nevertheless, this son of Mastercraftsman brings quality with him from the flat and has proven he has the stamina for the winter game. Assuming he can be more assured with his jumping given experience, Druid’s Altar could develop into a useful sort. 124

    Ilmig had not seen the racecourse prior to making his debut in a two mile Thurles maiden in early October. There he finished runner-up in a field composed primarily of experienced jumpers and he went one better next time over two furlongs shorter at Navan ahead of hurdles winner Jesse Evans, with former Triumph Hurdle winner Tiger Roll further back. The subject of sustained market support throughout the day, Ilmig was settled in midfield and apart from a careless error three out, put in a good round of jumping. Though he made progress to challenge the winner in the closing stages, he could not keep up with him in the closing stages and stayed on at one pace for a clear second. This was very much an encouraging debut and the winter ground should present no issues in the future. However, unless the going is bottomless, Ilmig would appear to lack the pace necessary for the best races in the division. 120

    Perry Owens brought the only winning hurdles form into the race, coming when grinding down a Gordon Elliott horse in a Galway maiden last month. He had subsequently disappointed on the flat but returned to the sphere with a career best effort. While his reaching at a couple of flights prevents his round from being described as perfectly fluent, his hurdling was the quickest in the field which saw him jump into the lead on a few occasions. He did not have the class to match the winner leaving the back and was shuffled back to fifth entering the straight. Nevertheless, he was able to regain his position from those tired rivals to finish upwards of ten lengths ahead of them at the line. This was not the first time Perry Owens had finished comparatively well and while he has no pretentions to being high class, he can continue to hold his own at this level. 119

    Dark Voyager had been Flying Scotsman’s inferior when they met on the flat at the Galway Festival, but he made a highly promising start to his hurdling career behind Zanahiyr at Ballinrobe and was well fancied to get off the mark here. However, in the event, he was beaten twenty-two lengths and though he was forced to steady into the second, that will not have impacted his performance. His greenness that he displayed on his debut was no longer a presence and he jumped fine before getting tired late on. He had travelled better than the winner at Ballinrobe before being outstayed on the run to the line and was well in contention prior to fading quickly approaching the penultimate flight. While he has the ability to stay the minimum trip over hurdles, he is beginning to look vulnerable whenever presented with a true test of stamina. He was found post-race normal by the veterinary officer. 102

    Flying Scotsman was the highest rated flat horse coming into this race by dint of his quickfire double at the Galway Festival. However, he was a huge drifter in the market and his prospects were done no favours when forced to check at the second flight. He was being pushed along after jumping too big at the first and was never travelling thereafter, nor jumping with any real fluency. Beaten by a distance, he was a tired horse in the end and there is not a lot of encouragement to be drawn from this outing. It may be possible to forgive him for this outing as the incident at the second did appear to impact his performance. Nevertheless, the drift in the market beforehand still leaves him with questions to answer. 93

    Rock Chica achieved little on the flat, but the promise on her hurdling debut was fulfilled last time at Tipperary where she won a fillies’ maiden by twenty-six lengths. That race rather fell apart for her though and she was let down by her jumping here. She weakened quickly after three out and while she did underperform, it would be fair to assume that she was also outclassed in this company. 80

    Speak Now is a brother of winning hurdler Let The Heirs Walk, but was not well supported on his racecourse debut. Steady going into the first, he was also close to the fourth and clipped the top of the seventh. Apart from those errors, it was not a bad round for a newcomer. Nevertheless, he was completely outclassed in this company and would not make any immediate appeal. 16

    Boom Boom Boom had shown hints of ability on his second outing over hurdles when posting a career best behind Glorious Zoff at Sligo last time. However, his jumping had regressed from patchy to very poor and he finished completely tailed off. 8

    Topkapi Star 14/11/2020 Uttoxeter 2m Handicap Hurdle
    Topkapi Star won over this course and distance back in August, but she failed to build on that performance a fortnight later at Fontwell. Following a fifty-two day break, she finished fifth at Fakenham, posting a career best under a penalty. The race she won did not warrant her initial mark of 102, but her being dropped to 100 still left her with little wriggle room. She was backed ahead of her handicap debut but her race started with a blunder at the first which saw her peck on landing and she pulled hard for a few strides afterwards. She soon settled into a better rhythm but there were a couple of minor errors in the back straight and was well beaten when making another mistake at the last. Topkapi Star did not seem at ease in this field but is capable of better and her new mark of 98 is more in line with what she has achieved. 77

    Preview review
    No preview was written for this race due to my taking rest. There was a bit written on Nassalam posted way back on the 3rd of September which concluded by stating “it would not be a surprise to see him doing well this season”. There were also bits and pieces on how jumpers purchased out of French claimers had a poor strike rate and that ex-inmates of Mick Channon’s have a better record going straight to Sheena West. Edebez’s limitations were well documented.

    Race review
    The first two editions of this particular contest were fairly ordinary affairs, but last season’s renewal was used by Gary Moore to introduce Goshen. This four runner affair eventually turned into a one horse race which was won by another Gary Moore newcomer in Nassalam. Finishing upwards of fifty-nine lengths ahead of two other finishers, the race was won in such a fashion that there is little to discuss beyond the winner looking good and the others looking poor. Nevertheless, the winning time was quicker than the opening novice and just a shade off the Class 3 handicap so there is still some substance to the performance.

    Nassalam finished runner-up on his sole start in France which came in a newcomers race at Clairefontaine in the end of June. The winner subsequently took a chase at Fontainebleau in October before recently finishing third in a €44,000 contest at Compiegne. He is currently rated 136.4 while the horse who finished third is on 132. He got big at a couple of the early flights on his debut and it was the same case here. However, he became more fluent as the race progressed and while he was not foot perfect over the last, caution was the prevailing sentiment as his win was under no equine threat. A Dream Well half-brother to Msassa, the former inmate of Guillaume Macaire could not have won this any easier having cruised into the lead turning for home before extending his advantage without being asked to accelerate. Any figure given for this performance would largely be arbitrary, but he is clearly a decent prospect and it will be exciting to see how he fares against more substantial opposition. 126

    Shentri won two of his six starts in France for David Cottin, including a steeplechase at La Roche Posay where he was the sole finisher (likely had the race won when his last rival fell). His latest win came in an Auteuil claimer at the beginning of September whereafter he changed hands for €25,001. The runner-up and third had odds of 85/1 and 42/1 but they filled the first two places in a subsequent claimer with the third then winning two more claimers. Five winning juveniles since 2008/09 were sourced from French Claiming hurdles including Notus De La Tour and Chic Name, although the overall strike rate is just 6.58%. Nevertheless, while he was likely to struggle against Nassalam in any case, the manner of his capitulation was quite severe as it is not as though he was eased as soon as he had been passed. Apart from getting close to the first and making tired jumps in the closing stages, his jumping was generally fine. It could be that he wanted for fitness and while his rating of 130 looks steep, it will be worth seeing how he does next time before his prospects can be dismissed. 74

    Sly Minx was beaten by around nine lengths in a listed race at Lingfield back in June and that was the margin when she won a Catterick maiden the following month. While she is by Sixties Icon, a sire with two winners in the sphere this season, there is nothing on the damline suggesting that she can make a hurdler and this was reflected in a very poor round of jumping. For all that her sire and flat ability entitles her to some respect, there was little promise on her hurdling debut. 27

    Edebez made his hurdles debut in the first race of the season where he was beaten twenty-one lengths on good ground at Newton Abbot. He failed to build on that back at Newton Abbot the following month and as bad though his return at Lingfield was, this performance was even worse. Apart from skewing at the first and trailing his hind legs through the third, his jumping was fairly decent at times. However, he struggled to stay during the summer and that task appears impossible in winter ground. 0

    Blue Slate 16/11/2020 Leicester 1m7½f Selling Hurdle
    Blue Slate ended his initial flat spell well beaten in a Leicester seller and he began his hurdling career in a similar fashion. Apart from skewing at the second and making a mess of the penultimate flight, his jumping was reasonable and he was still in contention at the top of the straight. However, he would weaken as the race unfolded before eventually finishing a remote fourth. Not an abysmal effort, but still nothing like enough to suggest he can be competitive in ordinary company. 76

    Preview review
    Once again, there was no preview written for this race and very little was previously written which pertained to these runners. Those with good memories might recall the prominence of Stuart Edmunds on the winners to runners lists and Megan was his first such runner of the season. The breeding snippets would have shown that High Moor Flyer and Lunar Bounty were each out of good racemares, although the former had achieved little in four starts and the latter had been well beaten on her sole outing to date. See The Eagle Fly was unconvincing in the lead at Fontwell but that would not have been enough to explain her underperformance.

    Race review
    Since the 2008/09 season, eight fillies’ juveniles had been held at Leicester. The introduction of the corresponding Listed contest at Aintree saw the race moved to its November slot and fourteen fillies have taken in both contests. None were able to land the double although 2014 runner-up Nyanza was able to reverse placings with Announcement the following month. Returning after a two season absence, this year’s renewal looked like an intriguing affair with Fontwell winner See The Eagle Fly and Fakenham third Isayalittleprayer representing the hurdling form, UK flat recruits for Alan King and Warren Greatrex, and a pair of Teutonic imports for Dan Skelton and Stuart Edmunds. In the end, the race went to one of the German bred fillies who won the race quite impressively. The proximity of the second and third casts doubt over the form as does the reported physical issues of two pulled up horses. Furthermore, the only solid remaining benchmark appeared to run slightly below par back in fourth. Nevertheless, the pace was a solid one and the winning time was the fastest of four races ran over the trip on the card so it may be harsh to unduly downplay the standard of form.

    Megan ran six times on the flat in Germany for Dominik Moser, winning once in June at Hannover over 1900 meters. Since then, she took in three races at pattern company and was last seen in early October when finishing last of seven, but just four and a quarter lengths behind Sunny Queen who subsequently took the Group One Grosser Preis Von Bayern. Megan was then sold at the BBAG October Sale for €22,000 with an official German GAG of 77kg. According to available charts, this roughly translates to a BHA rating of 74 although the RPR of 90 for her latest effort at Hanover looks more realistic. In any event, she was representing a sire with two winners from four in the sphere, and a trainer with the best winners to runners ratio of any trainer with ten or more juveniles since 2008/09. Her early jumping was not brilliant as she steadied into the first, was slow at the second and got in close to the third. Nevertheless, she soon got into a good rhythm and travelled strongly in midfield. She made steady progress in the straight and cruised into the lead approaching the final flight. Clearing the last with a two length lead, she responded well to being shaken up and very quickly extended her advantage to nearly ten lengths at the line. Given that neither of the next two finishers had finished within eighteen lengths of a winner from six flat starts between them, it is difficult to get too excited about the standard of form. Nevertheless, she could hardly have won this race in a more taking fashion and the winning time affords her performance some substance. Megan now heads to the Listed race at Aintree and with only Hiconic and Talking About You matching her at this juncture, she holds good prospects of collecting some black type. 116

    High Moor Flyer earned an official rating of 42 following four runs on the flat, yet even that mark would have flattered her. Furthermore, she sweated up prior to this contest and burned plenty of energy by pulling hard while in the lead. That she managed to beat all but one of her rivals casts doubt over the form, but there were some clues in her profile. Trainer Jedd O’Keeffe has a solid record in the division with limited ammunition and sire Pour Moi’s improvement rate of 78.95% is the highest of any stallion with ten or more qualifiers. Her damline was also strong for as well as being out of Chatteris Fen winner A Media Luz, the granddam was a half-sister to a pair of fair French juveniles in Ameno and Lucie. Apart from wandering into a few of her flights, High Moor Flyer had more good jumps than bad and in the absence of Megan, she would have ran out an emphatic winner. As with any turn up of this nature, it would be wise to see if she can replicate this performance. Nevertheless, this was still an encouraging introduction. 103

    Gilbertina beat just one of twelve rivals home in a pair of Yorkshire novice races on the flat and was beaten a combined eighty-nine lengths in the process. While the runner-up had a pedigree that promised improvement, there was no such elixir in Gilbertina’s breeding. Apart from being a half-sister to a maiden hurdler in Ireland, the damline is bereft of jumpers and of the sire’s five juvenile hurdlers, none had achieved an RPR exceeding 88. Tracking the leading group throughout, Gilbertina lacked some fluency in the early stages but was otherwise a sound jumper. While the front pair left her trailing, she never lost her position relative to the remainder of the field. Her being beaten by over eighteen lengths restores some semblance of sanity to the form, and as this was just her third outing, it can be argued that she was still unexposed. As it stands, the performance was no better than fair but it could entitle her to be competitive in modest company. But once again, it remains to be seen if the form can be replicated. 94

    See The Eagle Fly‘s win at Fontwell received a boost last week as the runner-up finished third in the Grade Two at Cheltenham, and the fourth won at Ludlow. The third placed also managed to subsequently finish second at Fakenham. Given the manner of defeat of the latter two, and the fact that the runner-up was still green on that occasion, the form can not be taken too literally. Nevertheless, any win where the form has worked out well is worthy of respect which makes See The Eagle Fly’s performance here a disappointment. Pulling in the early stages, her jumping was not quite as clean as it had been on her debut. She appeared to be travelling strongly when taking the lead in the straight, but she then started to idle and would weaken tamely from thereon. Given this is twice in as many races that she has been uncomfortable with the lead, the inclination is to attribute this performance to attitude rather than a lack of stamina or ability. While See The Eagle Fly is capable of defying a penalty, she may require deft handling in order to do so. 96

    Volkovka went into her debut at Fakenham as favourite when bringing in a flat rating of 81.4 from France. However, her chances were effectively ended by a bad mistake at the first and she was pulled up some way from home. She managed to complete the course here but it was not without some novicey jumping and a pair of bad blunders at the sixth and the last. At the time of her latter error, she was in contention only for third place as the race was already completely out of her range. Bred to do well in the division, she can move towards her flat ability with further experience, although there is a chance she may be getting soured by the discipline and is not one with real immediate promise. 87

    Lunar Bounty was well beaten on her sole flat start back in July, but she represents a top yard in the division and is bred to be a jumper. By Sea The Moon (37.5% winners to runners with juveniles), she is out of a King’s Theatre mare who was fourth in the Mares’ Hurdle at the Festival who herself is a full-sister to The Dutchman and Katie Too. Her dam won a Grade Three mares’ novice chase and the likes of Addington Boy and Lord Noelie can also be found on the damline. Slightly hampered at the first, Lunar Bounty only made one real mistake at the fourth and travelled well before being outpaced in the straight. While the bare form is poor, it was not a bad introduction but she may be one who benefits from time. 78

    Restricted Access earned a rating of 62 following three starts in the summer, but that mark dropped to 55 after another three runs in October. Diving right at the first, she was then close at the second and steadied into the third. Her jumping improved from there but while she was in contention turning in, she eventually faded and made a tired mistake at the last. There will have been stamina concerns going into the race and these were not alleviated. 69

    Kobra won a minor race at Dresden on her sole start back in May before joining one of the leading yards in the division. That race earned her a GAG of just 65 and subsequently produced only one subsequent winner but she did not go off unfancied. However, given that Megan achieved considerably more yet started at over twice the price reflects the strength of yard reputation in the market. Kobra was keen early but made only a couple of minor errors and was still within a length of the leaders at three out. However, she would fade tamely before being the last to finish. Though she may strip fitter for the outing, there is little reason to assume that she might progress particularly far. 52

    Isayalittleprayer represents a yard, stallion and dam with a good record in the sphere, but she did not jump well on her hurdling debut at Fakenham and was possibly flattered by the result. But save for a slow jump at the third, her jumping was better here. Nevertheless, she would eventually pull up and it was reported that she had breathing issues. 0

    Plusdargent achieved little on the flat for either Ben Haslam or Katie Scott and while her sire has a fair record in the division, she made no appeal through her damline. She lacked fluency, never left the rear of the field and was the first horse beaten. 0

    Atailof Two Cities won a handicap at Catterick by twenty-two lengths on her penultimate start for Charlie Fellowes and joined a yard with a solid record in the discipline. However, while she initially raced prominently, she was hesitant at four out and weakened quickly thereafter. It was discovered that she burst a blood vessel. 0

    Bachelors Hall
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    This table shows where and when Willie Mullins has introduced his leading juveniles since 2008/09, with his record in tomorrow’s race thrown in for context.

    There is also a race tomorrow at Sedgefield, the preview for which should hopefully be done before the day’s end.

    Tomorrow’s maiden hurdle at Gowran Park has been a mainstay at the meeting since 2008 and would be one of the more important races of its nature on the calendar. Diakali (2012) and Footpad (2015) are the most notorious winners as they each won Grade Ones later in the season as well as finish placed in the Triumph Hurdle. Buiseness Sivola and Officieux were also introduced in this contest while Doctor Deejay and Prussian Eagle used the race to get off the mark. Crassus brings useful placed form into this race while On Guard seeks to rebuild his reputation after disappointing at Killarney. However, the potential quality of this renewal probably hinges on Youmdor who makes his hurdling debut for the Willie Mullins yard which was responsible for the aforementioned Grade One winners. Gowran Park’s average winning DIs of 1.40 median, 1.56 mean are higher than those of the average runner and the third highest in the country. This indicates that it is one of the less demanding circuits although the going is currently forecast to be heavy. The clear round rate is fairly average although the course is second only to Ascot for successful odds-on favourites.

    Triumph odds
    50/1 Youmdor

    Adamaris chg Gerard O’Leary f12-1-2 (68) 75
    Born To Sea (Oratorio){22-b}(1.86) 2/1 Juno The Muffinman 1st Juvenile Hurdle, Warwick 2012
    Twice a runner-up on the all-weather during the winter, Adamaris got off the mark at the eleventh time of asking at Leopardstown in a mile handicap last month. Running in first time blinkers on a mark of 62, Adamaris led from the outset and was able to extend his lead turning for home. While the runner-up closed the gap in the closing stages, the post came just in time for him to prevail by a head. Adamaris was unable to follow up next time at Dundalk where he was a two and a half length fifth, although the Leopardstown third filled the same position in that race. The yard is without a win from nine runs in juvenile hurdles since 2008/09 and his last winner over jumps came in October 2007. There is more encouragement on breeding however as Born To Sea (A Wave Of The Sea, Aspire Tower, Orchestral Rain) has a fine record in the division and Adamaris is out of a half-sister to winning juvenile Juno The Muffinman. There is not much to find on flat form and he should be able to go on the ground, but the trainer’s lack of prolificacy is a concern given his lack of hurdling experience.

    Baltinglass Hill bg P J Rothwell f3-0-0 (75) 62
    Cable Bay (Iffraaj){16-a}(2.00) 3/0 Wheeler’s Wonder 1st Juvenile Claiming Hurdle, Wincanton 1993
    Baltinglass Hill ran three times on the flat for Michael Grassick, twice in maiden company and once in a Claimer, before being allotted a mark of 75. However, that rating is difficult to justify and looks the result of an anomalous performance in a twelve furlong maiden at Leopardstown where he was just over nine lengths fifth at odds of 150/1. His only subsequent outing saw him beaten by twice the margin in a ten furlong Claimer at the same venue in August. Since then, he joined a Philip Rothwell yard who since 2008/09, is without a winner in the sphere from seventy-one runs. Cable Bay has yet to sire a winning juvenile, dams by Iffraaj have yet to produce one, and the third dam winning a Claiming Hurdle in 1993 is the closest example of a jumps relative – although Quick Jack appears on the damline at 4/4. One very tenuous glimmer of hope however lies in the relation between his thoroughbred family and his dosage index. While family 17-a is without a winner from 17 when the horse’s DI is 1.00 or below, it has six winners from seventeen when the DI is higher which is fascinating in and of itself since the rule of thumb generally asserts that the lower the DI, the better. However, to illustrate how tenuous this facet of information might be, the best representatives of the family are very distant from Baltinglass Hill, with Kazlian at 12/8, and Tonic Mellysse at 12/9. Still, useless though this revelation may be, we can still luxuriate in being privy to the kind of information that can only be reached through rigorous research.

    Bigz Belief bg Matthew J Smith f9-0-0 (51) 61 j4-0-3 (-) 109 114
    Make Believe (Falco){3-d}(2.00) 2/1 Camouflage 4th Maiden Hurdle, Navan 2007
    A nine race flat career culminated with a rating of just 51, but Bigz Belief has been placed on his last three starts over hurdles and would have the second strongest hurdles form in the field. Showing up for much of the race before fading on his debut at Punchestown he returned there to finish third to Scholastic, splitting a pair of subsequent winners in the process. Third again next time at Galway behind Perry Owens and Sideshift, he reversed placings with the runner-up on his latest start at Fairyhouse where he had Complete Fantasy, Toughari and Saga Malta in his trail. Bigz Belief’s form has improved with each outing and while not yet entirely fluent, so too has his jumping. The ground was soft, soft to heavy in places at Fairyhouse and the conditions will be close to identical here. He may still prefer a less demanding race but with his form and experience, he should still put up a decent account of himself.

    Complete Fantasy bg Peter Fahey f5-0-0 (57) 70 j3-0-0 (-) 104 109
    Make Believe (Night Shift){42}(1.67) 0.5 Monkeylou 3rd 3-y-o Maiden Hurdle, Ballinrobe 2018
    Moderate on the flat, Complete Fantasy only made it to the first on his hurdling debut and was tailed off next time at Sligo. However, a more assured round of jumping saw him reach a more competitive position on his latest start at Fairyhouse when a seven length fourth, five lengths behind Bigz Belief. It was his best performance in over a year and with the yard enjoying a double last week, there is every reason for this improvement to continue. However, there is no real reason for him to reverse placings with Bigz Belief and there is still ground to be made with a few of his other rivals.

    Crassus bg Noel Meade f9-0-2 (69) 76 j3-0-2 (-) 110 124
    War Command (Seeking The Gold){4-m}(1.89) 0.5 Indian Chief PU Maiden Hurdle, Sedgefield 2019
    Though he failed to win in nine starts on the flat, Crassus had been rated as high as 79 in that discipline. While a dip in form saw that mark fall by ten pounds, he regained some standing when embarking on his hurdling career. He was no match for Duffle Coat when a six length second on his debut at Punchestown, but he had subsequent winner Scholastic seven lengths further back. He was in the process of running a fine race at Ballinrobe before falling at the penultimate flight and found only Glorious Zoff too good last time at Sligo. Crassus had jumped well on his first two starts, and was especially solid prior to his fall at Ballinrobe. He was understandably less assured last time out and it is hoped that the clear round will have improved his confidence. The form of his last two outings has not been particularly well advertised as both Dark Voyager and Glorious Zoff were beaten favourites next time out. There have been excuses for those defeats and regardless of those disappointments, the form is still the best on offer in this field. Though Crassus is still without a win in twelve starts, there may yet be better to come as Noel Meade’s juveniles often continue to progress through the season and have amassed a win, two seconds and a fourth from four runners in this contest. He should present a good test for Youmdor.

    Dazzling Darren chg Gavin Cromwell f15-3-4 (65) 70 j2-0-0 (-) 87 91
    Dragon Pulse (Dark Angel){16-f}(1.67) no jumps relatives
    Between the Sixth of February and the Seventh of July, Dazzling Darren won three races on the all-weather in the UK, then was second in three races at Roscommon. This sequence ended at Galway and while he was well backed ahead of his hurdling debut back at Roscommon, he could only finish a twenty-nine length fifth. A two month break saw him finish well beaten at Fairyhouse on the flat and he never travelled with any purpose when finishing last in a maiden hurdle at Galway four weeks ago. He only made one error on each of his hurdles outing, but while he represents a yard with a good record in the division, he comes into the race with plenty to prove.

    French Asset bg Gavin Cromwell f5-0-1 (75) 80 j1-0-0 (-) 82 82
    Siyouni (Galileo){9-c}(0.73) 2/1 No Heretic 3rd Novices’ Hurdle, Newbury 2016
    A stablemate of Dazzling Darren, French Asset started his career with Sir Michael Stoute and achieved a rating of 75. Former residents of Freemason Lodge tend to achieve decent ratings as juveniles, although their overall winners to runners rate is 15.56% and only 25.81% will improve for the switch between codes. French Asset was easy to back ahead of his hurdles debut and his jumping was marked by greenness. He lost touch half a mile from home and would eventually beat only his stablemate home. The yard gets more than its fair share of success in the field and his charges often improve with experience. However, while he has scored first time one, half of his winners did not get off the mark until at least the third time of asking and French Asset has a still task if he is to buck that trend.

    Londonofficecallin grg Miss Evanna McCutcheon f4-0-0 (50) 51 j2-0-0 (-) 95 95
    Alhebayeb (Lord Shanakill){13-e}(11.00) 5/1 Cezanne 1st Novices’ Hurdle, Huntingdon 1999
    No better than a fifty rated horse on the flat, Londonofficecallin has improved for the switch to hurdling. However, he was still beaten a combined thirty-seven lengths in a pair of Maiden Hurdles at Killarney and Galway (twelve lengths behind Bigz Belief at the latter) and his jumping has not been fluent. There are traces of ability but not enough to make him competitive here.

    On Guard bg Gordon Elliott f3-1-1 (86) 88 j1-0-0 (-) 93 96
    Invincible Spirit (Giant’s Causeway){1-e}(1.40) 2/2 Strolling Home 1st 4yo Maiden Hurdle, Tramore 2008
    On Guard left John Gosden at the Tattersalls August sale for 52,000 guineas to join Gordon Elliott with an official rating of 86. On that basis alone, he could have been seen as an interesting recruit to the division. After a promising debut second at Haydock last year, he won a six runner Yarmouth Novice Stakes from three subsequent winners and two subsequent runners up. Leading from the start, he was headed over a furlong out and drifted out to 20/1 in-running before rallying to regain the lead close to the line. He played up prior to his latest flat outing in the Queen’s Vase and refused to settle while being held up, before finishing tailed off. It is typical of juveniles whose flat careers began with John Gosden to disappoint over hurdles without even taking into account the heightened expectations. Of the forty-nine horses to have made the switch from Clarehaven to hurdles, only six managed to win a race. Three of those with fruitless campaigns sold for over £100,000 and only Tom George’s Petit Palais earned more than £10,000 in prize money. Invincible Spirit’s record in the sphere is also poor and though his 10% winners to runners rate since 2008/09 is bad enough, none of his sixteen juveniles since 2012/13 have won a race between them. There are some positives on the damline however as there the likes of Chivalry (3/2), Sir Erec (3/3) and jumps stallion Mahler (3/2) can be found. On Guard made it seventeen winless juveniles for Invincible Spirit on his hurdling debut at Killarney in early October where he was an uneasy even money favourite. There he was very fresh in the first part of the contest, wandering into most of his early hurdles and almost refusing at the second. While he was able to settle eventually, he was a tired horse by the end of the race finishing a seventeen length fourth in a moderate looking contest. On Guard showed enough promise to suggest he can be competitive at a moderate level if he becomes more fluent but he would be breaking a mould if he is to be much better than average in this discipline. Furthermore, this would not be a race that Gordon Elliott typically targets with his better juveniles, with only one of his ten participants winning, and only one of those ten achieved an RPR exceeding 120 during the season.

    Sydney Blues bg Patrick J Flynn f9-0-1 (66) 73
    Footstepsinthesand (Kingmambo){14-c}(1.06) 0.5 Artistic Touch 11th 4yo Maiden Hurdle, Killarney 2016
    A maiden after nine starts on the flat, Sydney Blues’ best effort in that sphere came in early September when second in a soft ground mile handicap at Punchestown off 70. His next three outings saw him weaken on each occasion over trips ranging from six furlongs to nine and a half furlongs. The trainer, sire and damsire all have fair records in the sphere but there are nagging stamina concerns.

    Toughari bg Thomas Mullins f7-1-0 (63) 66 j2-0-0 (-) 103 108
    Tough As Nails (Imperial Ballet){14-e}(1.00) 2/2 Golden Sage 1st Grande Course de Haies des 4 Ans (L), Cagnes Sur Mer 2018
    Toughari achieved little in his first six starts on the flat and a lack of fluency contributed to an insipid hurdling debut at Killarney in early October. The application of blinkers on a return to the flat saw him run away with a handicap in the mud at Fairyhouse and he was backed from 16/1 in the morning to 6/1 ahead of his return to Fairyhouse for a Maiden Hurdle. However, he was either close or steady at half of his jumps and although he was in contention entering the straight, he could not find enough to make an impact on the finish. It was an improved showing and with more assured jumping, he can get involved in a weaker contest. The yard enjoyed a double at Punchestown over the weekend, but Toughari would still need to reverse placings with a few of these.

    Youmdor bg Willie Mullins f8-2-4 (82.5) 83
    Youmzain (Kentucky Dynamite){2-s}(0.89) 3/1 Attiki Oddo 2nd Handicap Hurdle, Enghien 2012
    Freddie Head is one of France’s leading trainers, although he has not been a prolific source of Juvenile Hurdlers in the UK or Ireland. Since 2008/09, only nine of his former inmates have participated in the division with two of them being winners. Hoping to bolster that record will be the latest Willie Mullins charge, Youmdor. After finishing down the field in a trio of maiden contests, Youmdor has finished first or second in all of his five starts since switching to handicaps. He broke his duck on his handicap debut just before Christmas at Chantilly where he produced a very late burst to grab victory on the line. He was twice runner-up at the same venue in the new year and filled that position for a third time in a ten furlong Saint-Cloud handicap in May, finishing late once again. His spell of seconditis was ended last time out however when he ran out a neck winner of a “Quinte+” handicap over ten furlongs at Deauville at the end of May. That race has not produced many winners although the third was able to win a similar contest at Compiegne two starts later. Youmzain has had five juvenile hurdlers in the UK and Ireland and two of them have been winners including the ill-fated Saglawy, who was third in the Champion Four Year Old Hurdle at Punchestown. Kentucky Dynamite has yet to be tested as a damsire but four of his five own juveniles in the UK were winners including Kentucky Hyden and Unanimite. A half-brother to Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere third Anodor, Youmdor’s pedigree is not inundated with hurdlers with the closest relative being handicapper Attiki Oddo at 3/1 (Burning Victory shows up at 5/4). His flat form is comparable with On Guard but what makes Youmdor an interesting contender is that he is the chosen representative of a yard which used this race to introduce Buiseness Sivola, Diakali and Footpad.

    Saga Malta bf Barry J Fitzgerald j1-0-0 (-) 77 82
    War Command (Exceed And Excel){22-b}(2.11) 2/1 Juno The Muffinman 1st Juvenile Hurdle, Warwick 2012
    Closely related to Adamaris, Saga Malta made her racecourse debut at Fairyhouse finishing behind Bigz Belief, Complete Fantasy and Toughari. Her jumping lacked fluency and she reportedly ran very green. She can improve for the experience but makes little appeal here.

    Strong prospects
    1. Youmdor
    Reasonable prospects
    2. Crassus
    3. Bigz Belief
    4. On Guard
    Feasible prospects
    5. Toughari
    6. Adamaris
    Moderate prospects
    7. Complete Fantasy
    8. French Asset
    9. Sydney Blues
    Negligible prospects
    10. Londonofficecallin
    11. Dazzling Darren
    12. Baltinglass Hill
    13. Saga Malta

    Bachelors Hall
    • Total Posts 1467

    My attention had earlier been directed to an ATR piece by Tony Keenan which showed that Gordon Elliott’s record in juveniles has been fantastic compared to the same time period last season. Wanting to see how this compared to the previous seasons, I built a little excel template that would make such information easier to glean. While the process was not entirely smooth, I eventually managed to crack it. While it took an hour an a half to reach Gordon Elliott’s figures, those for Willie Mullins, Nicky Henderson, Alan King and Galileo took only a matter of seconds. Note that the columns should be headed “runs” and “wins” rather than “runners” and “winners”, but these images have already been uploaded to imgur so they will have to do. Other breakdowns can be made on request.

    And as promised, the preview for Catterick’s race tomorrow.

    Catterick’s first juvenile hurdle of the season takes place tomorrow and with the winner’s seasonal RPRs being just 113 median, it is one of the less prestigeous tracks in the country. This is not to say that the course does not get the occasional useful juvenile as both Orsippus and Ruacana visited the North Yorkshire venue prior to winning at the highest level. Although none of these look likely to reach those heights, with two hurdle winners, another with good placed form, and a pair of flat newcomers rated in the seventies, there will be worse races ran this season. A sharp track with only minor undulations, Catterick is one of the easier circuits in the country and with the going forecast to be good, speed rather than stamina may be the most useful attribute tomorrow. The clear round rate of 95.87% is just below average but would not suggest a particularly stern jumping test.

    Genever Dragon bg Donald McCain f10-0-2 (62) 71 j2-1-0 (115) 104 109
    Dragon Pulse (Red Clubs){1-w}(1.29) 3/1 Staunch Rival 2nd Handicap Chase (124), Sandown 1995
    Genever Dragon ran with promise as a two-year old for Tom Dascombe, but failed to justify his mark of 71 during three runs in the summer. He was able to get off the mark at the eleventh time of asking on his hurdles debut at Sedgefield at the end of September, jumping and travelling well before repelling the challenge of Magna Moralia. Though he showed signs of greenness, they were not as pronounced as they were when he returned to Sedgefield a fortnight ago. His jumping also saw a decline prior to his finishing twenty-five lengths behind the winner, twenty behind Gold Desert. The return to a sounder surface might suit and his debut win is not without merit. However, the penalty will not make life easy, especially as he was prone to inconsistency on the flat. Furthermore, while Donald McCain has a fine record in the division, he has scored only once from twenty-five runs in Catterick juvenile hurdles since 2008/09.

    Gold Desert chg Oliver Greenall f4-0-0 (71) 74 j2-1-1 (116) 105 118
    Mastercraftsman (Galileo){9-f}(0.76) 3/1 Triple Sharp 1st Mares’ Handicap Hurdle (81), Fakenham 2001
    After leaving Richard Hannon for 23,000 guineas at the Tattersalls August sale, Gold Desert made a winning start to his hurdling career at Sedgefield in mid October. His jumping was initially cautious and he made a meal of winning what was a poor race by any measure. Nevertheless, he looked sure to improve which is what he did returning to the venue to finish third behind Le Magnifique and Glorious Zoff. Here, his jumping was reasonable without being great, and after taking up the running in the back straight, he was outpaced at the top of the hill before staying on again towards the finish. There is a concern that the sharp configuration of this race is unlikely to play to his strengths. Nevertheless, Gold Desert is a progressive sort who sets the form standard and is entitled to plenty of respect in this company.

    Camahawk brg Tim Easterby f6-0-1 (69) 75 j2-0-0 (-) 71 78
    Camelot (Machiavellian){25}(1.00) 0.5 Hawk High 1st Fred Winter Handicap Hurdle (G3,130) Cheltenham 2014
    Bred to be a juvenile hurdler, Camahawk is a Camelot half-brother to 2014 Fred Winter hero Hawk High along with three other jumps winners in Dactik, Autumn Surprise and Mountain Hawk. His flat career was not bad either as while he failed to win in six outings, he was not disgraced in handicaps at Redcar and Thirsk off a mark of 73. However, he was tailed off on his hurdling debut at Wetherby and fared not much better next time at Sedgefield, finishing well behind Gold Desert and Genever Dragon. While he still has questions to answer, there is still time for him to fulfil some of his genetic promise and he may also benefit from the sounder surface. However, although the yard won this race in 2018, it is currently going through a lean spell.

    Castle View chg Jim Goldie j1-0-0 (-) 2 1
    Casamento (Invincible Spirit){1-w}(2.20) 2/1 Book Of Invasions 1st Novices’ Hurdle, Huntingdon 2019
    Prior to his debut at Musselburgh earlier this month, Castle View had been withdrawn from two intended flat runs due to his behaviour beforehand. In the event, he never left the rear of the field and made mistakes at every hurdle before finishing completely tailed off.

    Clay Regazzoni bg Keith Dalgleish f19-1-6 (70) 79 j2-0-0 (-) 83 88
    Due Diligence (Kheleyf){6-b}(3.00) 2/1 Age Of Glory 1st 4yo Maiden Hurdle, Killarney 2013
    Clay Regazzoni had nineteen starts on the flat, earning a win and six places in the process. However, he looked anything but a natural on his hurdles debut at Wetherby and despite the having services of Brian Hughes, was not much better at Musselburgh last time out. While his flat form reads well in the context of this field, nothing in his two runs over jumps suggests he can make an impact here.

    Fahad bg Danny Brooke f5-0-1 (72) 78
    Farhh (Nayef){1-k}(2.50) 3/3 Lisheen Castle 1st Juvenile Maiden Hurdle, Wetherby 2019
    Another lot at the Tattersalls August sale, Fahad fetched 14,000 guineas to join first season trainer Danny Brooke. Winless in five starts for Roger Varian, Fahad’s best effort came when just under a length third in a ten furlong Kempton maiden at the start of June. Neither of the front two there managed to place in ten subsequent races between them although the fourth did win a handicap off 74 the following month. Since then, Fahad has thrice been beaten in handicaps, including when beating just one home last time at Newbury following a gelding operation. Juveniles formerly trained by Roger Varian have a respectable winners to runners rate of 30.77%, although only 27.78% of them found improvement over hurdles. Neither of Farhh’s two juvenile hurdlers to date have been placed and the damline is bereft of jumpers in close proximity.

    Grouseman bg Pam Sly f7-0-0 (50) 56 j1-0-0 (-) 92 92
    Kyllachy (Danehill Dancer){8-d}(1.91) 2/1 Pivot Bridge 1st Handicap Hurdle (B,110), Killarney 2014
    Grouseman achieved a rating of just 50 after seven runs on the flat and being by Kyllachy offers little encouragement for his new vocation. Nevertheless, he was not disgraced on his jumping debut a fortnight ago at Warwick despite finishing twenty-five lengths behind Adagio. He suffered interference at the second and third but apart from getting close to the first and fourth flights of hurdles, his jumping was not too bad. Staying on from a long way behind, he failed by only a neck in his attempt to grab third on the line. This performance matched the best of his flat form and his trainer’s record in Catterick Juveniles since 2008/09 is two wins and two seconds from four runs. Bare form leaves him with a bit to find but he would not be ruled out entirely.

    Magna Moralia grg John Quinn f11-2-4 (75) 81 j2-0-2 (117) 105 108
    Gregorian (Singspiel){1-h}(0.87) 0.5 Speed Company 1st Handicap Hurdle (119), Chepstow 2019
    Twice a winner on the flat, Magna Moralia traded as low as 1.04 to make a winning hurdles bow at Sedgefield in late September. However, he jumped the last awkwardly and was unable to regain the lead from Genever Dragon. Next time at Uttoxeter, he once again went long odds-on in running but though his jumping was improved, he was never travelling as well as the winner. Nevertheless, the form of that race has a respectable look to it as the winner has since ran with credit in a pair of pattern races and the third returned to form when runner-up at Ludlow last week. Magna Moralia then returned to the flat in a fourteen furlong handicap on soft ground at Redcar where he stayed on best of all to get within a length of Cornerstone Lad at the line. He is patently capable of winning a race of this nature and wil be helped by the fact that he is without a penalty. However, once again, his head carriage was not the most convincing last time at Redcar and the yard has astonishingly gone a year without a winner over jumps and is not in the best of form on the flat either.

    Monash bg Rebecca Menzies f6-0-0 (59) 68
    Lawman (Sadler’s Wells){1-s}(0.82) 2/1 Jack The Giant 1st Wayward Lad Novices’ Chase (G2), Kempton 2006
    During the last two seasons, Rebecca Menzies has had two winning juveniles from five including Fabianski who won at this track in December 2018. She saddles her first juvenile of the current campaign in Monash who left the Ed Walker yard for 6,000 guineas at the Tattersalls Autumn Sale. Making his racecourse debut in July, he ran six times without finishing in the first four and comes into the race rated just 59. There is more encouragement on breeding however as Lawman wins his fair share of races, including with Legal History – another former inmate of Ed Walker who won over £50,000 during his first campaign. Sadler’s Wells has above average figures as a damsire by all metrics, and the dam is a full-sister to winner Malakiya, and a half-sister to the high class Jack The Giant and the useful Crystal Rock. Wahiba Sands (5/4), Celestial Halo (5/4) and Thomas Edison (5/5) are other useful relatives. Tomorrow’s contest may be too much too soon for Monash, but he would not be the worst recruit to the discipline.

    Ring Of Gold bg Michael Easterby f4-0-2 (73) 75
    Havana Gold (Nayef){14-c}(1.00) 1/0 Pitter Patter 6th Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (Listed), Taunton 2014
    Ring Of Gold first saw the racecourse in July, and he improved on a debut second in a Leicester maiden to finish a close third in a Redcar Novice Stakes at the end of August. He was not disgraced when fourth on his handicap debut at Beverley off 74 but he was a tailed off last on his latest outing at Nottingham. Havana Gold has won just one race in the sphere from thirty starts as a sire and while the trainer does get winners, his overall strike rate is just 6.41%.

    Temper Trap brg Tim Easterby f11-2-1 (56) 65
    Slade Power (Teofilo){14-c}(0.45) 3/1 Dynamagic 5th 4yo Maiden Hurdle, Tramore 2018
    After achieving little on his first three starts, Temper Trap finished second on his handicap debut off a mark of 50 before scoring by the narrowest of margins four days later in a 0-50 Classified Stakes at Musselburgh over seven furlongs. He followed up in a Hamilton handicap three weeks later but without being beaten too far, has since failed to revisit the winners enclosure in five subsequent starts. Slade Power has not done badly with a small batch of juveniles with a winner and a second from three runners. However, there is little encouragement on the damline, the yard is out of form and he looks exposed as moderate on flat form.

    Strong prospects
    1. Gold Desert
    Reasonable prospects
    2. Magna Moralia
    3. Genever Dragon
    Feasible prospects
    4. Grouseman
    5. Monash
    6. Camahawk
    Moderate prospects
    7. Ring Of Gold
    8. Temper Trap
    9. Fahad
    10. Clay Regazzoni
    Negligible prospects
    11. Castle View

    Bachelors Hall
    • Total Posts 1467

    Tomorrow’s race at Exeter will see this season’s first hurdlers to emerge from “junior” bumpers. Since this is fresh dynamic for the current campaign, it is worth having a look at these races as they relate to juvenile hurdles. Credit to graysonscolumn whose donkey work many moons ago helped to fill the gaps for the embryonic phases of this sphere.

    The first national hunt flat race open to three-year-olds was held at Newbury in November 2002. During that year, they were open to three and four-year-olds, but it is fitting that it would be won by a member of the younger vintage in Enitsag. The following season, junior bumpers became the preserve of three-year-olds and Ascot’s first (and to this date, only) junior bumper was won by the unraced ex-Roger Charlton filly Locksmith who would finish second in that season’s Adonis Hurdle, and seventh in the Supreme at Cheltenham. Another junior bumper winner that season was Baby Run, who would win the Fox Hunters’ at Aintree eight years later. The use of such races as a springboard for a flat career, particularly in the instance of Alan Swinbank’s pair Alfie Flitts and Turbo Linn, raised some eyebrows at the time. That pair notwithstanding, these contests have generally been used for their intended purpose as the years have passed.

    Insofar as their impact on juvenile hurdles is concerned, 382 horses started off in a bumper before contesting a juvenile hurdle since the 2008/09 season. I See You Well, Kuilsriver and Chris Pea Green would go on to contest the Triumph Hurdle (the latter being the best placed when seventh in 2013), but the most successful juvenile hurdler would be Runswick Royal who finished second in the 2013 Anniversary Hurdle. Generally speaking, these races are not a prolific source of juvenile hurdling talent as just 21 of the 382 horses were able to collect a win during their first campaign. Put into perspective, the winner to runner rate is just 5.50% (3.56% overall strike rate) whereas the winner to runner rate of flat horses rated 50 or below is 7.74% (3.64% strike rate). Incidentally, juvenile hurdlers whose careers began in French bumpers, the most notorious being Defi du Seuil and Espoir d’Allen, have a winner to runner rate of 46.4%.

    With that out of the way, Exeter regularly sees the introduction of good class novices both over fences and hurdles. However, the quality of juvenile hurdlers at the Devon venue is not usually festival standard. The 2016 edition of this race was won by Finale runner-up Evening Hush, with Fred Winter winner Flying Tiger finishing sixth. Nevertheless, the course’s median seasonal RPR of 113 for winning juveniles is nearer to the bottom than to the top. This year’s renewal may be a decent one however as it is headlined by Paul Nicholls newcomer Monmiral, and supported by the first JP McManus/Philip Hobbs juvenile of the season, a pair of well-bred George Nympton racecourse debutants, two with decent placed form over hurdles and a junior bumper winner. Despite being a stiff galloping track, the average winning DIs of 1.40 median, 1.62 mean, are among the highest in the country and such anomaly is not accounted for by the DI of all runners. One explanation might be that ground conditions tend to be one extreme or another, and with the going forecast to be soft, stamina will likely be an asset. Jumping will also be a favourable attribute as the clear round rate of 94.89% is the fifth lowest in the UK.

    Monmiral blg Paul Nicholls j1-1-0 (-) 120
    Saint Des Saints (Mont Basile){16}(0.60) 2/1 La Landiere 1st Cathcart Chase (G2), Cheltenham 2003 (black horse, white cap, dark blue with light grey armlets)
    Francois Nicolle has already supplied one of the season’s leading juveniles in Quilixios, and connections will be hoping that Monmiral can make a similar impression on the UK landscape. His sole start in France was a win in the Prix Rush which is an early season contest for hurdling debutants. Since 2008, twenty-four horses have come out of that race to contest to compete in UK/IRE juvenile hurdlers. Thirteen of those were winners including Fixe Le Kap, Twinlight and Sam Winner, with Balko, Goliath du Berlais and Cerium counted among its many classy graduates. One of those thirteen winners was this season’s runner-up Hell Red who made a most compelling UK debut at Chepstow for Paul Nicholls before an excusable disappointment at Cheltenham. Settled in midfield, Monmiral travelled smoothly to take up the running at the end of the back straight and he ran on strongly to the finish to win by two and a half lengths. Apart from reaching at the last. it was difficult to find fault in his jumping and his demonstration of pace through heavy ground will serve him well in the winter game. The form of the race, as befits one full of newcomers, is solid without being exceptional. Hell Red looked very good at Chepstow, fourth placed Hirta is currently rated 133, and sixth placed Martator, the race’s only subsequent winner in France, is on 137. Monmiral’s pedigree is decidedly meritorious as he is the produce of Saint des Saints out of a mare who won on her debut at Auteuil and is a half-sister to the classy La Landiere. Along with Monmiral, she has produced two other winning jumpers including Soulongy who placed second in a Listed steeplechase. Drop Out Joe (2/2) and Lough Derg (3/2) are also closely related while Walkon (6/4) and Quel Destin (6/5) appear further back on the damline. While thought of as a chasing type, there are still strong expectations for Monmiral as a juvenile hurdler and a visit to Cheltenham or Doncaster next month has already been earmarked.

    Bourbali bg Colin Tizzard j2-0-1 (104) 91 108
    Sinndar (Saint Des Saints){1-b}(1.18) 2/1 Tamarinbleu 1st Clarence House Chase (G1), Ascot 2008
    By Sinndar (Hargam, Mourad, Diakali), out of a half-sister to Tamarinbleu and related to numerous other winning juveniles, Bourbali is another with a compelling pedigree. Making his racecourse debut at Plumpton in September, only inexperience and unsuitable conditions prevented a winning start. He could only finish fourth next time at Chepstow but he bore the impact of a heavy mid-air collision at the second and although he jumped well afterwards before plugging on up the straight, it was not an ideal journey. Bourbali’s initial handicap mark of 104 looks generous and his trainer had suggested that the handicap route was an option. As such, it is interesting that he runs in an open race – a race which incidentally was won by the yard in 2017 with Padleyourowncanoe. The ground and course should suit him better than what he has encountered to this point and he should offer a solid test for Monmiral in receipt of six pounds.

    Devongate bg Nigel Hawke b1-0-0 (-) 79
    Delegator (Compton Place){14-b}(11.00) 2/1 Levitation 5th Ladies Open PtP, Hackwood Park 2012
    Devongate is one of three graduates of a junior bumper held at the course last month. He was unfancied prior to the off, but was not entirely disgraced in finishing just over sixteen lengths behind The Worthy Brat in fifth place. Delegator is not an obvious national hunt sire but his one winner in the sphere is the talented Cornerstone Lad who also scored twice as a juvenile. There is nothing compelling on the damline and while Nigel Hawke has had a couple of winning juveniles this season in Historic Heart and Peat Moss, of his five who started off in bumpers his best result was a 66/1 second at Newton Abbot in April 2015. Devongate is not the most hopeless recruit to the sphere, but he makes little appeal on his debut in this company.

    Duke Of Condicote bg Alan King f8-1-2 (79) 85 j1-0-1 (-) 109 110
    No Nay Never (Halling){A16}(3.00) 3/2 Pateese 3rd Imperial Cup (L,125), Sandown 2011
    Alan King is one of the leading trainers of juvenile hurdlers by any metric, but he has gone twenty-one runs without a win in the division since Blacko scored at Warwick back in January. Duke Of Condicote came closest to ending that lull at the same Warwickshire venue just over a fortnight ago when a seven length second to Adagio. Rated 79 following a flat career which included a win at Haydock and culminated with a second on soft ground at Yarmouth. Sent off as favourite for his jumps debut, his round got off to the most inauspicious start however as he veered very badly right at the first, during which Tom Cannon displayed a remarkable feat of strength to retain the partnership. He was then slow at the second but there was some improvement thereafter as he went into the lead. This lead was lost approaching two out whereafter his jumping rather fell apart. This deterioration did not cost him the races as the winner was similarly error prone. The form of the race has already taken a good shape as the winner subsequently finished second in the Grade Two at Cheltenham, while fourth placed Grouseman, who was seventeen lengths behind, was runner-up at Catterick on Friday. Capable of making his own running and likely to handle conditions here, Duke Of Condicote is entitled to respect in this company, although he will have to jump better than last time.

    Honneur d’Ajonc bg Mrs Jane Williams Unraced
    Diamond Boy (April Night){8-i}(1.00) 0.5 Destin d’Ajonc 1st Prix Pride Of Kildare, Auteuil 2016
    Racecourse debutants from the yards of Nick and Jane Williams have been a regular feature of the current campaign. While none of the five have won a race this season, two were able to finish second on their debuts, namely Balko Saint – who later finished third in the Prestbury Hurdle, and Admiral Balko who was second at Bangor. Honneur d’Ajonc, who cost €24,000 at Arqana last July, is not by Balko but by Diamond Boy. Despite none of his three UK/IRE juveniles winning during their intial campaigns, they all achieved RPRs exceeding 111 including Free Handicap winner Grand Sancy. Diamond Boy, a brother to Golden Silver, has a fair 23.81% winners to runners rate with three-year-olds in France. The damline does not contain any superstars, but it is not short of winners either. Honneur d’Ajonc is a half-brother to Prix Pride Of Kildare winner Destin d’anjonc along with six time winner Solotremp, and Polyfleur who scored in a three-year-old hurdle at Enghien. His dam is a sister to the fairly useful Kerrigand, and a half-sister to cross country chaser Sainte Suzanne. Ascertaining stable form is a curious task with Nick and Jane Williams as while the former is without a winner since March, the latter’s charges have been running well recently. This is compounded by the fact that while the latter has yet to send a juvenile to Exeter, the former has a record of a winner and three places from five. Honneur d’Ajonc has a respectable profile and can not be wholly dismissed, but winning racecourse debutants are still a rare breed and this is a warm contest for a newcomer.

    Shutupshirley bg Robert Walford j1-0-0 (-) 67 76
    Saddler’s Rock (Tragic Role){6-f}(0.78) 1/0 Ede’Iff 1st Handicap Chase (101), Ludlow 2005
    Shutupshirley made his racecourse debut at Wincanton four weeks ago, starting at an unfancied 66/1. Out of a minor winning chaser and a half-brother to a pair of minor winning hurdlers, he showed a profound lack of pace and found himself detached a long way from home. His jumping was sound however, and he stayed on past beaten horses to finish a tailed off fourth. Robert Walford has a decent record with limited ammunition in the discipline, but while Shupupshirley may have a future over jumps, it won’t be coming soon enough to worry his rivals here.

    The Worthy Brat bg Jeremy Scott b1-1-0 (-) 101
    Worthadd (Alhaarth){20-d}(1.32) 2/1 Penric 1st Novices’ Handicap Hurdle (86), Hereford 2005
    Jeremy Scott has had four wins in juvenile hurdles since the 2008/09 season, with all of them coming couresty of Ultravox in 2011. None of his other four representatives enjoyed much success but The Worthy Brat will be carrying reasonable hopes. He is already a winner at the venue, which came in a junior bumper last month. Despite wandering around up the straight, he was able to prevail by the narrowest of margins from a Jamie Osborne charge who was previously third at Huntingdon. The latter aside, the form of neither race has worked out with all subsequent runners failing to place next time. Worthadd yet to be tested as a jumps sire but sons of Dubawi have a fairly moderate record in the sphere and though the dam is a half-sister to a winning hurdler, the pedigree is hardly riveting. Any undefeated horse is worthy of some respect by default, and The Worthy Brat is entitled to improve with experience. Nevertheless, he was still very green in his race, itself coming on good to firm ground, and the record of junior bumpers in juvenile hurdles is poor enough without the questionable quality of The Worthy Brat’s success.

    Yggdrasil bg Nick Williams Unraced
    Kapgarde (Le Balafre){4-m}(1.67) 0.5 Siruh du Lac 1st Mildmay of Fleet (G3,141), Cheltenham 2019
    In Norse cosmology, Yggdrasil is essentially the tree of everything and is the place of residence of my favourite mythical squirrel, Ratatoskr. Ratatoskr’s job is to run up and down Yggdrasil exchanging insults between the eagle who lives atop the tree and the serpent who lives in the roots. As much as anybody who bought Neil Gaiman’s book would like to believe otherwise, this is about as interesting as it gets for Norse mythology. Yggdrasil’s namesake has yet to see a racecourse, but his pedigree alone is a compelling read. A half-brother to former stablemate Siruh du Lac, fair chaser Acta Est Fabula, and winning French Juvenile Txamanxoia, Yggdrasil is out of a dual chase winner and is closely related (3/1) to Matchou who won the 1995 Grand Course de Haies d’Auteuil. Kapgarde, who is responsible for Fakir d’Oudairies, Solo and Clan des Obeaux, has the best winners to runners ratio in the field at 47.06%. The record of the Williams’ yards has been addressed already, but it is worth noting that Siruh du Lac was introduced in the 2016 renewal of this contest where he finished third at 16/1. Once again, this will not be an easy race to win first time out, but Yggdrasil’s profile still merits respect.

    Zellerate bg Mark Gillard b1-0-0 (-) 39
    Gutaifan (Barathea){16-f}(1.50) 2/2 Mirzam 2nd Mares’ Handicap Hurdle (98), Worcester 2018
    Zellerate cost £33,000 as a yearling, but he failed to make the racecourse for Amanda Perrett and was let go for just 1,500 guineas at the Tattersalls July sale. He since made his debut in the aforementioned junior bumper where he started at 125/1 and beat just one of his eleven rivals home, trailling in by forty-seven lengths. Set to be his sire’s first runner over jumps, Zellerate has few national hunt relatives and his pedigree largely consists of speedy flat sorts such as Sudirman (2/2) and Dandy Man (4/3). Mark Gillard has a fair 15.79% winners to runners rate in the sphere, although none of his three successes came first time out.

    Ronde De Nuit bf Philip Hobbs f1-0-0 FrF ?
    Doctor Dino (April Night){8-c}(1.67) 0.5 Nuit De France 1st 4yo Chase, Tolouse 2018 (maroon, gold star)
    Philip Hobbs has solid figures across the board with juvenile hurdlers and Defi du Seuil carried the JP McManus silks to success in the Triumph Hurdle in 2017. Both owner and trainer are set to be represented for the first time this season in the UK by the ex-Etienne & Grégoire Leenders filly Ronde de Nuit. Her sole start came in a soft ground 2,900 metre maiden at Angers in early June where she finished a length and three-quarter fourth. Held up in midfield, she was more inclined to weave away from the whip than run true to the line and did well to finish as close as she did. Only the seventh placed horse has won since and the overall form is reasonable at best. The second and third, who both carried more weight than Ronde de Nuit, each have valeurs of 32 (BHA 74) while the next two behind have ratings around the 70 mark. Incidentally, the runner-up, Night And Day, has since joined Willie Mullins after fetching €90,000 at the Arqana Deaville sale in July. Two of Doctor Dino’s six UK/IRE juveniles, namely Sceau Royal and Dino Mite, have been winners and his winners to runners rate with three-year-olds in France is a very healthy 44.68%. A half-sister to winning four-year-old chaser, Ronde de Nuit’s dam won a hurdle at the same age and along with Southern National winner Brave Spirit (3/1), the family also features top French juvenile Grand Souvenir and 2005 Prix Maurice Gillois winner Polivalente at 4/1. There is a bit to find on bare form and the greenness she showed on her debut is not ideal but there was still plenty of promise. Ronde de Nuit has a decent pedigree and is an interesting contender for a yard which won this race in 2015 with another French flat horse in Jaboltiski.

    Strong prospects
    1. Monmiral
    Reasonable prospects
    2. Bourbali
    3. Ronde de Nuit
    Feasible prospects
    4. Duke Of Condicote
    5. Yggdrasil
    Moderate prospects
    6. The Worthy Brat
    7. Honneur d’Ajonc
    Negligible prospects
    8. Shutupshirley
    9. Devongate
    10. Zellerate

    Bachelors Hall
    • Total Posts 1467

    The reviews for the weekend’s action should be up by day’s end, but first, the preview for tomorrow’s… race.

    Tomorrow marks the second year that Punchestown hosts a three-year-old maiden hurdle in late November. Last year’s renewal introduced Aspire Tower, who would finish second in the Triumph Hurdle, and Wolf Prince, second in the Spring Juvenile Hurdle. This year’s edition, for all that it contains beautiful horses who are all very lovely and are all deserving of love, does not look good. The seven newcomers have forty-five flat races between themselves without a win and represent trainers who have not scored first time out from one hundred attempts combined. One of the two with hurdling experience has shown something resembling form, but he would be happier with a sharper test which will not be provided on soft to heavy ground around Punchestown. The average winning DIs of 1.00 median, 1.22 mean are in the lower third of racecourses and its clear round rate of 95.51% is similarly challenging.

    Alexei Vronsky bg Padraig Roche f6-1-0 (68) 71 j2-0-0 (-) 103 102
    Power (Fasliyev){11-d}(3.00) Maria Padilla 0.5 7th 3YO Maiden Hurdle, Thurles 2013
    One of two with hurdling experience in the field, Alexei Vronsky has the best form and is the most fluent jumper of the pair. His debut came at Galway last month where he only made two real errors and moved well leaving the back straight. He was unable to sustain his effort and finished tired on his first run in two and a half months. Nevertheless, he was a respectable ten length fourth and the three ahead of him have each been placed in subsequent outings. Alexei Vronsky was next seen at the beginning of the month in a Fairyhouse maiden where once again, he jumped well and attempted to make ground before finishing tired in a race which has worked out similarly well. Were the ground to dry out dramatically between now and two o’clock tomorrow then he would take all the beating as his ability and aptitude set a solid target. However, his win on the flat came on good to firm, he was twice withdrawn on the flat due to soft ground and he has failed to fully see out both of his races in the sphere. Notwithstanding, given the quality of the opposition, he still comes into the race with a strong chance.

    Loved Out bg Thomas Mullins f5-0-1 (65) 68
    Requinto (Mister Baileys){10-b}(1.15) 3/1 Brightner 1st Novices’ Hurdle, Taunton 1988
    Loved Out first saw the racecourse in the middle of June where he finished fourth of seven in a Gowran Park maiden over an extended nine furlongs. Since then, he has been to Leopardstown four times where a fifth and a second in maiden company were followed by a gelding operation and a pair of midfield finishes in soft ground handicaps off 66 last month. He weakened in the final furlong on his penultimate start over twelve furlongs, but Ran on after minor traffic problems over ten furlongs last time. The form of neither race has worked out great but his mark of 65 looks fair and it would still be the third highest in this field. Requinto has only one winner from six juvenile hurdlers but Billy The Squid and Breguet Boy have represented him creditably this season. Loved Out has seven flat winning siblings who generally performed at shorter trips and is from the family of top class sprinter Cadeaux Genereux. Nevertheless, winning hurdler Brightner (3/1) and good jumpers Teaatral (3/3) and Two Taffs (3/4) also appear on the damline. The record of Thomas Mullins with juvenile hurdlers is the best of the trainers represented in this field and his 37.5% winners to runners rate is the only one above the standard 20%. Four of his six winners, including Rock Chica who scored at Tipperary last month, were rated 60 or less on the flat, and his clear round rate of 98.41% is also the best in the field for trainers with more than one runner. Although he has yet to score with a hurdling debutant from seventeen attempts, it is not for want of trying as six of those were able to reach a place first time. Furthermore, the yard is currently in decent form with four wins from fourteen in the past fortnight at prices ranging from 9/2 to 33/1. There are slight concerns over Loved Out’s ability to fully see out the trip but he should have no trouble with the ground and these concerns are further mitigated by the lack of habitual front runners in the line up.

    Movie King chg A J Martin f6-0-1 (46) 55
    Animal Kingdon (Songandaprayer){2-d}(9.00) 4/6 Red Tornado 2nd Summer Handicap Hurdle (130), Market Rasen 2017
    In a sign of the times and of the future, Movie King is set to be the first juvenile hurdler to have been sold at a Goffs online auction. He fetched €14,000 earlier in the month but remains under the care of Tony Martin for whom he twice placed in handicaps off marks in the mid-late forties. While he ran green on his latest start, there is little concern over his ability to handle the ground or the trip. The yard has had six winning juveniles since 2008/09, but none were rated any lower than 70 on the flat. No horse of Tony Martin’s has won first time out either and from fifty-nine debutants, only Edeymi (his best juvenile hurdler he’s handled during this period) would finish in the first three. The Candy Stripes, Leroidesanimaux line is not one that brings success in the sphere and the damline is bereft of jumpers until you get to Red Tornado (4/6) and Mega Fortune (5/6).

    Peckham Springs chg Paul Stafford f6-0-0 (79) 73
    Gale Force Ten (Daylami){21-a}(1.67) 3/2 Balanak 1st Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle, Kempton 1995
    Peckham Springs brings the highest flat rating into the field, although it is not reflected in his performances and it has yet to be tested in handicap company. Initially rated 73 after three outings between late August and the beginning of October, he was raised six pounds for a three and a quarter length fourth in a Naas maiden at the start of this month. In isolation, it was a decent enough performance as he half a length behind an 85 rated subsequent winner, and five lengths ahead of a 147 rated chaser. He was unable to sustain this promise five days later at the Curragh where though he was fifth of fifteen, he was still beaten fourteen lengths and only had outsiders behind him. Gale Force Ten has two winners from six juveniles including Little Brother who won in the summer, and Daylami has a solid enough record as a damsire. While Peckham Springs’ half-brother achieved little in six starts over hurdles, he is not too distantly related to Balanak who won the Dovecote as a four-year-old in 1995. Good jumps sires Mastercraftsman (4/3) and Oscar (5/3) also appear on the damline. Paul Stafford has yet to saddle a winning juvenile in eighteen starts, but his 4% strike rate over hurdles is still better than his 0% on the flat.

    Stage Power bg John F Gleeson f5-0-0 (50) 51
    Tamayuz (Lawman){5-h}(1.67) 4/1 Danever 1st George Watson Novice Hurdle (L), Flemington 2008
    Stage Power collected three duck eggs as a two-year-old, and another two during the summer in a pair of handicaps. He since left Sarah Lynam to join a yard sending out its first juvenile hurdler since Grey Fox was pulled up at Listowel in 2004. Tamayuz has a fair record in the division, but that is not enough to foster encouragement even in this contest.

    Wyett Earp bg Anthony Mullins f8-0-0 (48) 58
    Lawman (Nayef){4-l}(1.67) 4/1 Cerulean 5th Maiden Hurdle, Newton Abbot 2004
    Gilded was a speedy filly in the 2006 season who won the Queen Mary at Royal Ascot, and was third in the Cherry Hinton. From the family of Blue Point, she produced two winning sprinters as a broodmare and Wyett Earp will be her first descendent to try hurdling. His eight runs on the flat have mostly been over distances of ten furlongs or longer and have yet to yield success, with his best effort being a three-and-a-half length seventh in a fourteen furlong Killarney handicap off 55. A pair of subsequent runs saw that mark drop to 48 and he has not been seen since early August. He represents another trainer without a win from eighteen attempts in the sphere since 2008/09, although The Last Stand did take a Grade 3 Juvenile for the yard in December 2005. Lawman has an average record in the discipline although there is little further encouragement on the damline.

    Rizannon bf J G Cosgrave f5-0-0 (38) 50
    Lucky Speed (Lucky Guest){13-c}(0.43) 3/1 Erzadjan 5th Wensleydale Hurdle (G2), Wetherby 1993
    Making her racecourse debut in late June, Rizannon beat just four of her fifty-five opponents home in five runs for John C McConnell, and was last seen tailed off in a Cork maiden off a mark of 45. She is set to be the first juvenile hurdler for her sire who, despite the name, was a stoutly bred German Derby winner. The damline also contains numerous hurdlers including siblings Our Brian and Wall Street Wally, winners Lucky Spirit (2/1) and Do You Follow Me (2/1), and useful sorts Erzadjan (3/1), Erzen (3/2), and Ebaziyan (3/3). However she has not joined a prolific yard for her debut in the sphere and her flat form was very poor.

    Roma Delight bf T M Walsh f10-0-4 UsF 30
    Paynter (Devil His Due){8}(2.20) 2/1 Arch Rebel 1st Juvenile Hurdle (G2), Leopardstown 2004
    While Longclaw had a few races in the states, the only horse to have gone juvenile hurdling after exclusively racing across the pond since 2008/09 was Phil Middleton’s Or So in 2015. Roma Delight would have been the latest such curiosity after a nine race career for Jeremiah O’Dwyer which resulted in three seconds. Her latest American outing came when sixth in a Turfway Park claimer back in February and while it is not clear whether or not she was claimed out of that race, she did run with a price tag of $30,000. Assessing the standard of form is a difficult task but the general idea is that an Equibase rating at claiming level is a few pounds lower than its Timeform and RPR equivalents. Roma Delight twice ran to 70 last December although her figures this year were 58 twice and 53 last time out. All this was rendered rather moot however as a run at Dundalk early this month elucidated both her ability and the expectations as she drifted from 33/1 to 100/1 before finishing last of fourteen in a seven furlong maiden. Sire Paynter has, unsurprisingly, never had a European runner over hurdles although his sire, Awesome Again, did produce Musselburgh handicap hurdle runner-up Uncut Stone. Nevertheless, Roma Delight’s half-brother Downtown Rebel was third in a Ballinrobe 3-y-o hurdle in 2017 and her dam is a half-sister to the top class juvenile Arch Rebel. Ted Walsh has not been a prolific trainer in the division in recent years with just one winner from his last eleven – although he did send out Commanche Court to win the Triumph Hurdle in 1997, and Top Strategy to finish third in the 2004 renewal of that race. Had she shown better form on her debut, and joined her trainer fifteen years ago, she might have been a more compelling debutant.

    Saga Malta bf Barry J Fitzgerald j2-0-0 (-) 81 82
    War Command (Exceed And Excel){22-b}(2.11) 2/1 Juno The Muffinman 1st Juvenile Hurdle, Warwick 2012
    Saga Malta made her racecourse debut at Fairyhouse where she lacked fluency and finished twenty-eight lengths behind the winner – ten lengths behind an underperforming Alexei Vronsky. She was last seen on Friday when she fell at the third in Youmdor’s race. Ordinarily, she would be a no hoper in most races but by virtue of her having some experience over hurdles, even if she lacked fluency, she would not be ruled out entirely which speaks volumes of this contest.

    Strong prospects
    1. Loved Out
    Reasonable prospects
    2. Alexei Vronsky
    3. Peckham Springs
    Feasible prospects
    4. Roma Delight
    5. Wyett Earp
    Moderate prospects
    6. Movie King
    7. Saga Malta
    Negligible prospects
    8. Rizannon
    9. Stage Power

    Bachelors Hall
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    This weekend could potentially be an exciting weekend in the division as Paros carries an entry for the Introductory Juvenile Hurdle on Saturday’s Fighting Fifth card, and there is also a Grade 3 at Fairyhouse on Sunday – the entries for which close at noon tomorrow. But in the meantime, here is a look at the action from the weekend just gone.

    Preview review
    The withdrawals of Crassus, On Guard and Adamaris made Youmdor’s task considerably easier and Youmdor won with considerable ease. With the exception of Complete Fantasy and Toughari, every finisher did so in order of the prospects list. I don’t quite remember my rationale for having those two in the reverse order but in the grand scheme of things, it is neither here nor there. The horses with experience finished in the same order as dictated by their ratings which is encouraging. There were no real under or overestimations.

    Race review
    Youmdor’s victory was made easier by the aforementioned withdrawals, but the field still contained a few useful yardsticks who had the race between themselves with five furlongs left to be run. While the principals all got a close to a couple in the back straight, the quality of jumping was decent for the division and the winning time was upwards of four seconds quicker than the other races held at the distance including a pair of good looking novices and a 0-123 handicap. There were no hard luck stories or alarming drifters, the leading contenders finished in a perfectly acceptable order and were a very long way clear of the remainders. The form looks very reliable.

    Youmdor was following in the hoofprints of Diakali and Footpad by being introduced in this contest and despite imperfect early jumping, make a very striking impression. He steadied on his approach to the first couple of flights, going big over the first and close into the second. However, while he got quite close to the fourth and the penultimate flights, and could not be described as particularly neat or swift, his jumping did improve once he learned his job and put in his best jump when getting ridden into the last. Tracking the leaders throughout, Youmdor eased into the lead after two out and after a clean jump at the last, extended his advantage to sixteen lengths at the line. The only encouragement from the jockey came in the request for a good jump at the last and it would be a stretch to suggest that Youmdor was even shaken up. Yet he treated his improving rivals with utter contempt to post what is, on bare form, the best performance seen to date this season. He is already a winner on good and heavy and the only quibble is that he will need to improve his jumping. Should he become more fluent, which is a reasonable expectation, then Youmdor could be a very serious horse for the upcoming months. 141

    Bigz Belief has now gone fourteen races without success, but he has improved with each outing over hurdles and posted another career best here. Setting off in the lead before disputing same for much of the contest, he clipped the top of the second and got in close to the fourth and fifth. He was also close to two out and slow to get away but it was a decent round of jumping overall. He was a class behind the winner but battled well up the run-in to hold onto second place. Bigz Belief has now been placed on his last four starts and is more than capable of winning an ordinary contest. 116

    Complete Fantasy’s hurdling career began with two uninspiring efforts, but he took a sizable leap forward last time out at Fairyhouse and consolidated that performance here. His jumping has also improved with experience and he apart from getting close at the fifth and making slight errors at two others, he jumped well. Held up in the early stages, he moved up to track the leaders as the field began to dwindle. Though he was still travelling well entering the straight, he never looked like threatening for the lead and would only pass the tiring Toughari on the approach to the last. Nevertheless, he kept the pressure on the runner up and is another who can win an ordinary contest. 115

    Toughari had shown only moderate form on the flat and on his sole hurdle outing prior to winning a Fairyhouse handicap on his penultimate outing. A return to hurdles at Fairyhouse saw an improved effort, albeit one tempered with cautious jumping. Another who raced prominently, he was much more assured over the first three jumps but his tendency to steady approaching his hurdles returned at the next two flights. He was better when ridden into the sixth but his jumping fell apart in the straight where he was a tired horse. There was still a distance between himself and the remainder but this was not as good as his Fairyhouse effort. Toughari is not without ability and he can be competitive with more assured jumping, although he may be better served with a handicap mark. 104

    Londonofficecallin has shown traces of ability over hurdles but is usually let down by his jumping. He was the last of the outsiders to lose touch but he was still beaten a long way and there was little improvement in his hurdling either. 73

    Dazzling Darren put in the cleanest round of jumping in this field, but he never got closer than midfield, lost touch a long way from home and was beaten ninety-five lengths. 37

    Baltinglass Hill set off with the others but was detached before he reached the first. His jumps that were picked up by the cameras were either slow or clumsy, and he eventually finished seventy lengths behind Dazzling Darren. 0

    Saga Malta lacked fluency on her hurdling debut and after getting in close to the first here, landed steeply and knuckled on landing when falling at the third. Thankfully she got up OK and galloped on riderless around the circuit in her own time. 0

    Sydney Blues finished second off 70 in a Punchestown handicap as recently as September, but had no enthusiasm for hurdles on his debut in the sphere. Though he did not want for racing speed, he wandered and steadied into every hurdle, lost touch after the fourth and virtually refused at the sixth whereafter he was pulled up. Unless he shows tremendous aptitude in schooling, he should not be tried again over hurdles. 0

    New Zealander 21/11/2020 Huntingdon 2m Maiden Hurdle
    New Zealander ran once on the flat for Charlie Hills in January and was not seen again until his hurdling debut at Wetherby last month. His jumping was not good but it was better next time at Huntingdon where he finished well to finish fourth to Orchestral Rain. Available at 11/1 in the morning, he halved in price ahead of this open aged maiden hurdle. He was somewhat keen early but while he doesn’t have the most efficient hurdling style, his only mistake came when slow at the fourth. Though he was never too far from the lead, he never looked like mounting a challenge and while the winner looked a class apart, he still dropped away tamely and was passed at the line by a 300/1 shot. Going by speed and form, this effort was a drop from last time and he is looking like handicaps will be a likelier route to success. 87

    Kentucky Hardboot 21/11/2020 Huntingdon 2m Maiden Hurdle
    Despite having a patchy profile and moderate flat form, Kentucky Hardboot was supported ahead of his debut at Kempton where he finished second to Overpriced Mixer. Disputing the lead for much of the contest, he made mistakes at half of his hurdles and was readily outpaced turning for home before a tired leap at the last. He was eventually beaten by nearly twenty-three lengths but the front two looked like decent sorts and while there was not much in behind, he was still seven lengths ahead of the remainder. His jumping will need to improve but he was not disgraced and can fare well when returned to his own age group. 104

    Orchestral Rain 21/11/2020 Huntingdon 2m Handicap Hurdle
    While Orchestral Rain disappointed on his UK debut, he made amends in a Ludlow maiden and followed up in fine style at Huntingdon at the beginning of the month where a change to front running tactics paid dividends. His mark of 121 looked fairly stiff, but he was still sent off as favourite for his handicap debut over the same course and distance of his latest win. While he got slightly close to the first and fourth, his jumping still much better than on his latest win. However, he lost the lead at three out and could only finish a seventeen length fifth. While the handicap mark will not have been favourable, a better effort was expected. This underperformance can not be attributed to his jumping so the only other explanations are either that he was too keen in the early stages, or he is given to inconsistency as this is not the first time he has disappointed. 106

    Preview review
    Despite drifting from 8/15 to 11/8 at the off, Monmiral won in a manner which more befitted his opening price along with the strength of his profile. Honneur d’Ajonc ran a sound race on his racecourse bow which, while justified by his reasonable profile, perhaps undermines the quality of the remaining runners given the record of debutants. Similar comments apply to The Worthy Brat who was underestimated due to the poor record of junior bumper graduates. Duke Of Condicote matched expectations but Ronde de Nuit and particularly Bourbali were disappointing. Though the former can be excused for being rather fresh on what was just her second outing, the latter certainly ran flat despite jumping well for much of the contest. Though this was the softest ground he had encountered, it is unlikely on breeding that this would cause his underperformance.

    Race review
    Most of the race’s attention was drawn towards Monmiral who was making his UK debut after beating stablemate Hell Red at Auteuil back in March. Beyond Monmiral, the field comprised of a pair of horses with decent placed form a recruit from the French flat, a bumper winner and a reasonably bred newcomer so there was some strength in depth. Though the runners were slow to start the race, the pace was a solid one and the winning time compared reasonably with the handicap later on the card. The strength of the second and third is tricky to ascertain but as the runner-up had been supported throughout the day, a good run was likely expected. Overall, the form looks reasonable but there are enough intangibles to prevent it from being described as solid for the time being.

    Monmiral was a decisive winner of the Prix Rush back in March and while he is thought of more as a chaser, he is still expected to do well as a juvenile hurdler. Having his first run in eight months, he was understandable fresh in the early stages, but he relished the underfoot conditions and moved well into the lead on entering the straight. Shaken up between the final two flights, he was asked to go about his business after the last and although he wandered under pressure, he was truer once Harry Cobden brought him to the running rail. He clipped the top of the fourth and seventh, and was got in fairly close to the fifth, but his jumping was otherwise fine and only really affected by his greenness. Though the quality of form is not especially substantial, this was a pleasing debut which promises improvement with experience. Monmiral is patently a horse of considerable potential and there is no reason why he can not do well this season. However, his prospects in a race like the Triumph are undermined by his trainer’s assertion that he is a chasing type with a preference for cut in the ground and it is difficult to disagree with that view based on this performance. 124

    Honneur d’Ajonc became the sole Geroge Nympton representative following the withdrawal of Yggdrasil, but he attracted support in the market beforehand and made a pleasing racecourse debut. Apart from being big at the first and getting close to the third and fifth, he put in a decent round of jumping first time and he travelled nicely throughout. While he never looked like threatening the winner, he maintained a prominent position and was always doing enough to repel the challenges for second place. This was a pleasing debut and he has the scope to improve into a fairly useful type on this kind of ground. 113

    The Worthy Brat ran very green when winning a bumper at this venue, but he benefitted from that experience and put up an improved performance to run into third here. Held up in the rear, his jumping was slow at times and he found himself outpaced after the sixth. Nevertheless, he passed four of his rivals in the home straight and got to within a couple of lengths of the runner up by the finish. While his win first time out came on good to firm, he went through the ground well enough and he was entitled to do so on breeding as his sire and siblings had form on soft. The Worthy Brat made a satisfactory hurdling debut and with more assured jumping, can be competitive at this kind of level. 111

    Duke Of Condicote‘s jumping was not particularly taking on his debut at Warwick, but being ridden in to the first elicited the desired response and apart from landing steeply at three out, put in a decent round. However, despite winning on good to soft and finishing second on soft, he did not appear to enjoy it as much as the firmer ground he had at Warwick and consequently, was unable to build on that performance. It was still a fair effort but he will need to find further improvement before he matches the best of his flat form. 109

    Ronde De Nuit was having her first run since she was fourth at Angers on her sole flat outing in June. She has joined a good yard for the division and her pedigree suggests she can do well in the sphere. While she was fresh in the early stages, her jumping was reasonable and after running off the pace, was still in contention turning for home. Her freshness and lack of fitness saw her empty out quite quickly and being hampered at three out, albeit only slightly, effectively ended her race and her jumps at the last two were tired ones in any case. Averse to the whip on her flat outing, she was not given a hard time on the run in and allowed to come home without urgency. Although this form does not amount to much, there was enough to suggest that she can find plenty of improvement for stripping fitter. 96

    Bourbali shaped well on his first two outings and he jumped and travelled nicely from the front for much of the race. However, after turning in to the straight, he quickly lost his position and would continue to lose ground before sharing last place. There is no reason why the ground would cause him to underperform to such an extent and there were no signs of distress before turning for home. Unless something is revealed to have gone amiss, this may be a first instance of inconsistency for the inexperienced Bourbali. It remains to be seen if this underperformance was an anomaly as he had shown plenty of potential during his prior runs. 95

    Shutupshirley managed to get detached early on his racecourse debut before passing beaten horses at Wincanton. Held up again, he was able to stay in touch with the field for much of the way but did not have the speed necessary to maintain his position in the straight. He jumped well first time out and put in another good round here save for getting close at the sixth. Shutupshirley is not without ability but he is without pace and is unlikely to get competitive at the minimum trip. 95

    Zellerate finished tailed off behind The Worthy Brat in a bumper at this course and made numerous mistakes in rear before pulling up at two out. 0

    Devongate was not disgraced when a sixteen length fifth to The Worthy Brat in the same race, but he still had plenty to find. His cause was not helped by slow jumping and was the first to get detached before pulling up at the top of the straight. 0

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    A quick table on Gordon Elliott and when his better juveniles tend to emerge. According to this, it is usually by now.

    All of the horses he’s mentioned in his stable tours have been out already and unless something has slipped under the radar at the sales, the only other Elliott horse I am aware of is Teahupoo who won the Prix Emilius at Auteuil last month. The runner up, Good Ball, has since joined Paul Nicholls while the third has won since at the same track. For some reason. the Elliott horse is available at 50/1 even though the runner-up is 40/1. Will hopefully have a look at a few of the unwrapped horses sooner rather than later but here’s a clip of the aforementioned race for now.​

    Bachelors Hall
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    The entries for Sunday’s race at Fairyhouse have been released and it looks like it could be a very informative race. Gordon Elliott has three entered in Glorious Zoff, Quilixios and Zanahiyr while Saint Sam of the Willie Mullins yard could be making his Irish debut. Druid’s Altar was an interesting winner at Punchestown recently while Jeff Kidder is Noel Meade’s chosen representative. Rock Chica and Wyett Earp make up the numbers. Unless the race features just one from the top and two from the bottom, the Triumph markets will almost certainly see some shifting in its aftermath.

    Tomorrow will see Wetherby play host to its third juvenile hurdle of the season in the shape of a maiden contest. Despite its class, the race usually produces above average sorts for the course with winners including Local Hero, Rutherglen and Coeur De Lion. The strength of this years renewal largely revolves around Wensleydale Hurdle fifth First Impression, along with a couple of fairly useful flat horses who disappointed on their hurdling debuts. The course’s winning DIs of 1.00 median, 1.20 mean, put it in the bottom quarter of tracks in the UK and Ireland and the figures are 0.32 lower than the average runner. The going is currently good to soft but with no rain forecast in the meantime, conditions are unlikely to deteriorate. Wetherby’s clear round rate of 94.75% is the third lowest in the UK behind Fontwell and Towcester which would demand a decent level of jumping. Odds-on favourites in juvenile hurdles at Wetherby have won thirteen times from twenty and the rate of 65% is better than average.

    Triumph Odds
    First Impression 50/1

    En Couleur bg Michael Easterby f3-0-1 (60) 68
    Archipenko (With Approval){16}(0.90) 2/1 Circus Maximus 1st Juvenile Maiden Hurdle, Naas 2001
    One of six newcomers in the field, En Couleur’s best effort came on his debut in a seven furlong maiden at Southwell back in March. Based on the subsequent form of those that finished around him, a mark around the mid-late sixties for that performance would be appropriate. However, after a break of six months, he was twice beaten seventeen lengths in a pair of maidens at Newcastle and Redcar. Archipenko is without a winner in the sphere from ten runners and only one in five improved for the switch between codes. With Approval is three winners from five as a damsire and the dam is a half-sister to three winning hurdlers. Michael Easterby’s strike rate of 6% in the division matches his current overall form, and his clear round rate of 94.81% is the lowest in the field. Just one of his thirty-five hurdling debutants won first time out, but that did come in the form of Albert’s Back who won this very contest in 2017 at 18/1. While En Couleur’s overall profile is a patchy one, it is not without glimmers of hope.

    Fact Or Fable grg J S Moore f25-0-2 (48) 64 j1-0-0 (-) 89 82
    Alhebayeb (Dansili){9}(3.00) 0.5 Uther Pendragon 3rd Novices’ Hurdle, Kempton 2019
    A 48 rated maiden after twenty-five starts on the flat, Fact Or Fable made several mistakes on his hurdling debut at Warwick and never progressed from the rear. He was beaten thirty four lengths and while he was less than ten lengths behind Grouseman, who was runner-up at Catterick last week, that is not enough to foster much encouragement here.

    First Impression bg John Quinn f8-3-2 (89) 94 j2-0-1 115 124
    Make Believe (Nureyev){16-a}(1.67) 3/3 Kazlian 4th Fred Winter Handicap Hurdle (130), Cheltenham 2012
    Rated 89 on the flat after scoring in a Class 2 handicap at Ayr in September, First Impression has made a good first impression over hurdles. He only failed narrowly to make a winning debut over course and distance last month, and he built on that effort a fortnight later when a thirteen length fifth in the Wensleydale Hurdle. The form of his first outing has not worked out well, but the quality of the Wensleydale has been confirmed by Duffle Coat and Cabot Cliffs posting comparable efforts in the Prestbury Hurdle at Cheltenham. In terms of class, First Impression comfortably sets the standard as he has upwards of a stone in hand over all of his rivals on both flat and jumps form. However, while his trainer’s strike rate of 23.89% is much the best of those represented here, he has gone over a year without a jumps winner and his recent form is also a concern. Furthermore, while First Impression has jumped well enough to achieve decent form, his rounds have not been free of errors. Were these factors not an issue, he would stand head and shoulders above these rivals.

    Mr Shady grg J S Moore f18-1-5 (63) 72 j1-0-0 (-) 96 98
    Elzaam (Definite Article){4-i}(2.00) 3/1 Fontaine Fables 1st Novice Hurdle, Fairyhouse 1996
    Hailing from the same Stan Moore yard as Fact Or Fable, Mr Shady has much the better flat form as he was able to collect a Lingfield handicap and his rating of 63 is justified. He also made the more encouraging hurdles debut when fourth of eleven at Ludlow a fortnight ago. While he started at 80/1 and was still beaten by nearly twenty lengths, his breeding for the discipline is not atrocious and the performance broadly matched his flat form. He made errors at half of his jumps but while his trainer has gone a very long time without a jumps winner, none of his juveniles have fallen or unseated since 2008/09 so it is reasonable to anticipate a better round of jumping here. While he is a tough and fairly consistent horse, Mr Shady is also exposed and while improvement is possible, it is unlikely to be enough to make him especially dangerous here.

    Numberoneson bg Harry Whittington f5-1-1 (81) 78 j1-0-0 (-) 78 73
    Camelot (Gone West){4-j}(1.38) 3/4 La Limagne 1st Prix Tanerko (Handicap Hurdle), Auteuil 2018
    Numberonesoon ended his flat career with success in a ten furlong Leopardstown handicap for Joseph O’Brien at the end of July. He fetched 22,000 guineas at Tattersalls the following month and joined a Harry Whittington yard whose 37.5% winners to runners rate is tied with John Quinn, and 69.23% improvement rate stands alone in this field. Though easy in the market ahead of his hurdles bow at Ludlow, he did not go off completely unfancied. However, although he set off prominently, he was already losing positions as the field turned away from the stands and while he was able to stay in touch entering the straight, he eventually finished both tired and tailed off. It was also difficult to be complimentary about his jumping as despite schooling with an eventer, he only tackled two hurdles with any fluency. The tongue tie he wore when winning at Leopardstown is reapplied and while he might be second string on jockey bookings, Daryl Jacob still wins plenty of races for the trainer and, incidentally, has a better record in the sphere than Gavin Sheehan. Had Numberoneson not been so disappointing at Ludlow, he would be a live contender here and there is a chance that he can improve for the experience, the reapplication of the tongue tie and the fact this will be his second run following his gelding operation.

    Ranco bc David Pipe f9-2-3 FrF (78.1) 69 j1-0-0 (-) 69 57
    Makfi (Diesis){6-e}(1.13) 5/4 Native Gallery 3rd Handicap Hurdle (Grade B,139), Punchestown 2013
    Twice a winner on the flat, he was claimed out of the Jérôme Reynier yard for €20,001 after winning at Vichy in June. The runner-up and the fifth that day, receiving seven and ten pounds respectively, are both subsequent winners with equivalent ratings of 83. Prior to Vichy, Ranco won a 2100m handicap at Marseille Borely off 33 (76 BHA) so his flat form would make him competitive. Ranco’s UK debut came in a juvenile at Southwell but while the ground was officially good, it was still an attritional affair and his jumping deteriorated as he began to tire before finishing a tailed off last of six finishers. Makfi’s record in the sphere is not good as he has only one win from forty-one starts. While Diesis has a solid record as a damsire, there is little jumping talent on the damline. David Pipe has a very good overall record in the discipline but his charges, particularly those claimed from the flat, fare better with a few runs under their girth.

    The Imposter bg Nigel Hawke f1-0-0 (-) 51 j2-0-0 (-) 86 96
    Authorized (Bertolini){20-a}(0.88) 2/1 Currahee 1st Handicap Hurdle (104), Cartmel 2009
    The Imposter achieved little in two starts at Chepstow under as many codes, but he put in a fair round on his hurdling debut and was able to build on that promise last time at Bangor. Jumping well in the main, he never got particularly competitive but stayed on well for an eleven length fourth which was an improvement on his previous outings. By Authorized and out of a half-sister to a fair handicap hurdler, The Imposter is bred to have a future in the sphere, although it is likelier to materialise with further experience. Nevertheless, Nigel Hawke has has a decent season and two of his three juveniles to have ran at Wetherby were winners, including First Impression’s victor Historic Heart.

    Two Sox bg Tim Easterby f5-0-0 (52) 57
    Nathaniel (Oasis Dream){19-b}(0.69) 3/1 Birth Rite 1st Novice Hurdle, Navan 2002
    Nathaniel (Burning Victory, Navajo Pass) has made a bright start to his career as a sire of juveniles and is already on the board this season courtesy of Zanahiyr. His latest charge, Two Sox, is a five race flat maiden whose best effort came when overcoming a slow start to finish just over a six length fourth at Ripon in a good ground twelve furlong handicap off 56. However, he was completely tailed off next time at Catterick in early August and has not been since. Stallion aside, there is not much else to get excited about in the pedigree since Oasis Dream’s record as a damsire is poor, and Birth Rate (3/1) is the close relative with hurdling form. Tim Easterby’s record in the sphere is just below average and while he gets winners in the sphere, only one of his fifty-two at Wetherby has won since 2008/09.

    Warranty bg Harry Whittington f6-1-1 (68) 67
    Authorized (Giant’s Causeway{16-c}(0.84) 1/1 Fally Jem 1st 3yo Conditions Hurdle, Fontainebleau 2018
    Warranty did not achieve a great deal on his first five outings on the flat for Mark Johnson, but he absolutely bolted up on his latest outing at Beverley back in August. The race was a six runner maiden handicap over two miles and Warranty was the only runner who elected to run stands side in the straight. Taking up the running rounding the bend, he soon found himself in a clear lead and was eased in the final half-furlong to win by six lengths on the line. Winning off 57 in a 0-65 maiden is not high quality form, but the race has worked out well, producing three who scored in either of their next two starts including Frankenstella who has since been raised nineteen pounds. Huntingdon runner-up Opine was also amongst those who trailed in behind. He has since left Mark Johnston to join Harry Whittington and at £36,000, will be the most expensive juvenile hurdler bought at auction by his new trainer. Although the race won by Warranty was ran on good, good to firm, being a son of Authorized, he should have little difficulty going through the ground. His sister won on soft at Fontainebleu as a three-year-old and his nephew/half-brother, The Revenant, won a pair of listed chases on heavy ground at the same age. The first choice on stable bookings, his trainer has a very good clear round rate of 98.28% and a first time out strike rate of 12.5%. While he has plenty to find on flat ratings with First Impression, the remainder of his profile is very attractive.

    Yulong Magicreef bg Jonjo O’Neill f5-0-1 (78) 73
    Fastnet Rock (Zamindar){13-c}(2.64) 3/1 Cape Express 1st Handicap Hurdle (125), Aintree 2012
    The Curragh maiden held on the twelfth of June turned out to be white hot as it was won by St Leger winner Galileo Chrome, fourth was Bahrain Trophy second Dawn Rising, fifth was Epsom Derby winner Serpentine and promising juvenile hurdler Zanahiyr was back in ninth. Just a length and a quarter behind Serpentine was Yulong Magicreef who was making his debut for Jessica Harrington. This would be the highlight of his career thus far however, as while he was third next time at Fairyhouse, his next three efforts became progressively worse and he was last seen beaten forty-eight lengths in a nine furlong Leopardstown maiden back in August. Jessica Harrington has a healthy 25.81% winners to runners rate in the division as a trainer, although that rate drops to 15.38% as a source with none of the seven qualifiers improving for hurdles. In Jonjo O’Neill, Yulong Magicreef joins a trainer who gets winners, although that accounts for 18.87% runners and his overall strike rate of 8.33% is only marginally better than his first time out rate of 7.55%. Furthermore, his clear round rate is below average at 94.9% and he is without a winning juvenile at Wetherby since 2008/09. Fastnet Rock has sired two winners from twelve runners in the sphere, Zamindar’s record as a damsire is average, and the only notable jumper on the damline is Cape Express at 3/1. The yard has been in the best recent form of those represented here and despite a patchy profile, Yulong Magicreef can be a threat if he can reproduce his debut form.

    Flat White chf Lucy Wadham f5-0-2 FrF 60.5 j1-0-1 (-) 92 105
    Olympic Glory (Monsun){4-i}(0.56) 3/2 Hipsters 1st Prix Go Ahead (L), Auteuil 2019
    Flat White had twice placed third in a five race flat career in France for Eoghan O’Neill, but the form was not of a high standard and effort in the sphere saw her finishing twelfth in a Deauville handicap off a mark of 60.5 back in August. Nevertheless, she has joined a yard with a respectable record in the division with five of the her fifteen juvenile hurdlers since 2008/09 being winners. She was not unfancied ahead of her UK/hurdling debut where she finished a four-and-a-half length second in an open aged Mares’ Hurdle at Uttoxeter. Pulling in the early stages and awkward at the first two flights, she was better over the third, fourth and sixth. Slightly hampered at the penultimate flight, she landed awkwardly at the last which cost her some momentum. Nevertheless, she was unlikely to catch the useful looking winner in the best of circumstances but ran well to finish clear of the remainder. The winner was unable to build on her performance however, as she was since well beaten in a Cheltenham handicap off 119. There was plenty of deadwood in behind at Uttoxeter but those who have been out since all finished tailed off next time nonetheless. Lucy Wadham managed to saddle a winning juvenile at Wetherby back in February 2018 and she took a Veterans’ Chase last week with Potters Legend. While her Uttoxeter run has yet to work out well. Flat White’s flat form, profile and hurdling experience still warrants respect given she is in receipt of a sex allowance.

    Miracle Eagle bf Jedd O’Keeffe f7-0-2 (57) 61
    Free Eagle (Lawman){13-b}(0.52) 2/1 Heat Storm 5th Maiden Hurdle, Fakenham 2017
    Though still a maiden after seven starts on the flat, Miracle Eagle has generally been progressive in that sphere and twice finished placed in a pair of handicaps at Haydock and Newcastle in September. She was not disgraced on her latest effort back at Newcastle last month either, but this was still off a mark of just 57 and her tendency to take a keen hold is not going to help her here. Free Eagle has already had two individual winners from his first crop of juvenile hurdlers, although the dam’s full-brother Heat Storm achieved nothing in three starts over hurdles and that’s the extent of closely related jumpers. Jedd O’Keeffe has saddled just eleven juvenile hurdlers but three have been winners including American Craftsman and Tavus who each scored at Wetherby. Miracle Eagle does not have the worst profile overall, but she still has enough to find on form and her headstrong style will be a concern for the time being.

    Walkonby chf Micky Hammond f13-4-2 (72) 78
    Sixties Icon (Fastnet Rock){4-m}(1.00) 2/1 Baan 2nd Maiden Hurdle, Ludlow 2011
    Walkonby is a four time winner on the flat for Mick Channon with her latest success coming on her seasonal reappearance at Haydock in a ten furlong handicap off 71. Although she did not run to that level in three subsequent outings, she returned to something like her best last time when fourth of thirteen in a soft ground Doncaster handicap last month. Former inmates of Mick Channon have a winners to runners rate of 40% in juvenile hurdles when sent to Sheena West, but that rate drops to 17.14% when they join any other trainer. This is what Walkonby did at a cost of 16,000 guineas at the Tattersalls Autumn sale ahead of joining Micky Hammond. The only other horse to have made this journey was Rockcliffe who finished fourth of six in both of his outings four seasons ago. Micky Hammond’s record in sphere is generally decent as his winners to runners rate of 23.4% and overall strike rate of 12.32% are solid. However, his strike rate drops to 5.71% at Wetherby, 8.89% with newcomers, and he has gone without a winner in the past three weeks. Hiconic and Talking About You have extended Sixties Icon’s sound record in the sphere although the damline is fairly shallow. Walkonby has a decent enough profile although her prospects might be more substantial were the trainer in better form.

    Strong prospects
    1. Warranty
    Reasonable prospects
    2. First Impression
    3. Numberoneson
    Feasible prospects
    4. Flat White
    5. Yulong Magicreef
    6. The Imposter
    Moderate prospects
    7. Mr Shady
    8. Walkonby
    9. Ranco
    10. En Couleur
    11. Miracle Eagle
    Negligible prospects
    12. Fact Or Fable
    13. Two Sox

    • Total Posts 1225

    This is good stuff which I’m just picking up on.

    Ghost of Rob V
    • Total Posts 748

    Never seen such striking attention to detail and 100% dedication in a thread. If this topic was a horse race, it’d be the 2008 Champion Chase.

    Masterminded Bachelors Hall :good:

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