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Juvenile Hurdlers 2020/2021

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    Impressive analysis
    Well done and thanks for all the effort – appreciated

    Bachelors Hall
    • Total Posts 1463

    Many thanks for the kind words and I am genuinely delighted that others are able to enjoy my contributions to the thread.

    The reviews for yesterday’s race at Punchestown and today’s race at Wetherby were in the process of being constructed. However, given that both of the ‘strong prospects’ were each newcomers beaten by those with hurdles experience, I went down an excel rabbit hole. Several hours of fannying around with formulas and formatting resulted in some excessively fascinating tables. While many an observation might be made, I will leave that task to the reader as I should probably eat something before I return to the reviews.

    The first table shows the performances of every juvenile hurdle participant since the 2008/09 season according to the number of races they had in the division. These are then broken down by their source. Note that “French Hurdlers” does not include those who also ran in chases as they have a separate key in the master book.

    I was also interested in how the juvenile hurdler’s ability to run without falling, unseating or refusing was affected by its experience. At the end of the table, I also broke down the UK and Irish flat horses by their official ratings. These were split at 62 as that was the median point.

    Finally, for the sake of clarity, I isolated the statistics for those having their first runs in the sphere.

    As always, any critiques of the work or suggestions for further research will be gratefully received and earnestly considered.

    Bachelors Hall
    • Total Posts 1463

    Preview review
    Switch the positions of the first two and the last two and the field finished according to the prospects list. However, despite strong prospect being backed from 4/1 to 5/4, and the winner having strong credentials in its profile, there were two factors which perhaps should have made Alexei Vronsky the strong prospect. The strength of hurdling experience, particularly if that experience includes decent jumping, is sizeable and it is this that won the day. His chances were also negated by the going but it was mentioned within the preview that there were no habitual front runners. Furthermore, the form Alexei Vronsky had already shown over hurdles on soft, even if it saw him fade on each occasion, was still strong enough to give him a leading chance. I will qualify the following with the standard disclaimer of my not being a tipster and that this is simply my thinking aloud. If the element of value is introduced then based on the profiles of the front two, 7/4 AV 4/1 LO made the latter the value. 10/3 AV 5/4 LO made the former the value. Not particularly relevant at this juncture as I do not want to complicate my process while I am still attempting to learn about the division in its broadest scope. Nevertheless, it may be something I might explore in another lifetime. Every other profile was fine.

    Race review
    The race looked poor beforehand and it still looks poor in hindsight. The pace was steady and the overall standard of jumping was moderate but there were no real hard look stories. There were a few questionable rides although it could not be said with any degree of certainty that they drastically effected the finishing order. The moderate horses were able to pull clear of the mediocre horses which gives the form some sense of reliability. However, unless a race is especially moderate, this contest is unlikely to produce an abundance of future winners.

    Alexei Vronsky‘s flat form automatically put him in the picture and he was the only runner with hurdling experience. He had jumped well on previous outings and that experience paid dividends as he put in a decent round which only began to loosen in the latter stages. Racing prominently throughout, he took the lead after the penultimate flight. Steadying into the last with a clear advantage, he had enough in reserve to hold off the challenge of the runner up. He did not have to improve on his previous hurdling form to win this. Any improvement he did find was marginal and came through racing prominently and with confidence. This performance would not necessarily indicate a preference for soft ground and he will likely struggle under a penalty in an ordinary contest. He would, however, be of more interest on a sounder surface. 105

    Loved Out was available at 4/1 the previous evening, but was backed throughout the day to start a clear 5/4 favourite. No better than a fair maiden on the flat, his chances largely hinged on the strength of his stable despite it not sending out a first time out winner in the previous eleven seasons. His jumping was not good however as he steadied into his early flights and made several errors ranging from getting to close or going too big. Though he started off prominently, these mistakes cost him ground and while he still tracked the leaders, he also gave them too much rope in a critical stage of the race. It is possible that he could have won with a more assertive ride, but this should not detract from the fact that his jumping was an even greater factor in his underperformance. Loved Out is not devoid of ability, limited though it may be, and he should be able to build on this effort with experience. 103

    Peckham Springs was the highest rated flat horse in the field and had a reasonable pedigree for the discipline. He was not the most consistent sort and he represented a trainer whose record with juvenile hurdlers is negligible. Taking a keen hold, he was soon taken back in the rear and was still over a dozen lengths off the lead and detached jumping two out. Nevertheless, he made rapid headway to pass all but two of his rivals along the straight and finished just over four lengths behind the runner-up. His caused was not helped by a poor exhibition of jumping as he lacked fluency, wandered into his flights and made errors including hopping, skewing and getting too close. While there were promising elements to this introduction, his jumping needs more work than the average newcomer and his general inconsistency further clouds his prospects. 99

    Roma Delight did most of her flat racing in America and made an inauspicious start to her Irish career at Dundalk earlier in the month. Her jumping was not good as she steadied, got in close and hopped over the second and third and was close over the fourth. She improved when moving to a more prominent position although she was still big over the seventh. Roma Delight was the first ride in the sphere for Shane O’Callaghan and his tactics can only really be described as bizarre. Setting off half a dozen lengths behind the other runners, she was virtually being pulled up on the run to the first. While she took a fairly keen hold when retrained at Dundalk, the excessive restraint her largely had the effect of lighting her up. After the fourth, she made up a dozen lengths in less than ten seconds to move from last to tuck in behind the leaders where she settled quite quickly. From there, she maintained her position before losing touch in a more naturalistic fashion. Whether it was inexperience on the part of the jockey, who was having just his twenty-fifth ride under rules, or instructions from the trainer is unknown. However, while there was likely a perfectly innocent explanation, the stewards should have sought to elucidate this matter. Insofar as Roma Delight is concerned, she does run freely and she does not look like a natural. Nevertheless, her ability would be better assessed under a more conventional ride. 77

    Wyett Earp has achieved little in eight starts on the flat and is more speedily bred than would be ideal for jumps racing. While his jumping lacked fluency, he took up the running entering the back straight and conceded the lead down the side approach to the home turn where he missed the third and second last flights. He faded from thereon and put in a tired jump at the last. This was not far off his flat form but it is unlikely he has the stamina to be competitive in this discipline. 81

    Movie King twice finished placed in handicaps off marks in the mid-late forties and there were little concerns over his ability to stay or handle the trip. He never really got involved in the race and lacked fluency at most of his hurdles. Subject to a stewards inquiry afterwards, he reportedly jumped moderately early on and was tired at the last. The former is not debatable and the latter is plausible but he was still ridden more with the elbows than the hands. Movie King is likely too moderate to be a plot horse in any case and he makes little appeal for the immediate future. 80

    Stage Power collected nothing but duck eggs on the flat and jumped poorly here before finishing tailed off. 63

    Rizannon had very poor flat form and while she is related to some decent jumpers, was steady and hesitant at most of the hurdles before also finishing well beaten. 50

    Preview review
    The Harry Whittington pair both disappointed but their removal led the next two prospects finishing first and third. First Impression set a clear standard but he made a meal of winning the race which is in keeping with his lukewarm assessment. There were strengths in the quality of his form and his hurdling experience and that is what won the day. Mr Shady was underestimated which is peculiar given that his rating was the third highest of the experienced runners and improved jumping was anticipated. The main takeaway would probably be to give greater credence to established hurdling experience.

    Race review
    Much of the race’s class hinged on First Impression and his ability to perform to his best. While he made numerous errors and did not quite match his Wensleydale form, he did run to his course and distance second which was enough to secure him the contest. His winning time was not as quick as his previous runs at the track but the times were slow throughout the meeting suggesting the ‘soft in places’ was quite widespread. The pace was sound and the winning time was quicker than that clocked in the novice hurdle won by a 122 rated horse so there is little to fault in that regard. The front three all had hurdling experience and these pulled clear of the remainder. First and second did not jump well and while the runner-up put in a good round up until the straight, his hurdling did rather deteriorate. The next two were newcomers rated 60 and 57 on the flat, but they both jumped well and likely posted career best efforts. Overall, the form looks solid and can be taken as reliable on face value.

    First Impression was much the highest rated of these on the flat and after two decent efforts over course and distance, also set a clear standard on hurdles form. Prior to this race, his yard had gone over a year without a jumps winner and there were concerns over his jumping. These concerns were not allayed as he made errors at the majority of his hurdles here and did not put in any clean jumps in the straight. Nevertheless, he always travelled well from a prominent position and with the final hurdle out of the way, he was able to put his flat speed to good use and knuckle down to win by a fairly decisive two and a quarter lengths. There is no complaints when it comes to his attitude and while the poor jumping prevented him from matching his Wensleydale fifth, it was still a fair and deserved win. First Impression has the ability and the attitude to defy a penalty and if his jumping improves, he may be able to hold his own in better races without threatening the top tier. 119

    Mr Shady won one of his eighteen starts on the flat and his rating of 63 is quite fair. Though beaten nearly twenty lengths on his hurdling debut at Ludlow, he did not disgrace himself in overcoming a mixed round of jumping to finish a long way clear of the remainder. Keen in the early stages, he was in the front line throughout the race and after going through the top of the first, he hurdled very well before flattening the first in the straight. He made a blunder at the penultimate flight and was not especially tidy at the last either, but he only lost the lead at the half-furlong marker and still kept on to the line. It is noted in the in-running notes that he hung against the rail in the closing stages, but the impact this had on the result would have been negligible. Despite his vast racing experience, this performance marks a new career best for Mr Shady due to his good hurdling during the bulk of the race. A tough and consistent sort, he has shown enough ability to be competitive in an ordinary contest. 117

    Flat White placed a couple of times on the flat in France for Eoghan O’Neill at a low level, but she appeared to take a step forward when second on her hurdling debut at Uttoxeter. An untidy landing at the last cost her some ground on that occasion but did not make any difference to the result. She was also clumsy to varying degrees at the majority of her hurdles here, but as her lack of aptitude was mirrored by her rivals, it did not alter the shape of her race. Always tracking the leaders, she became outpaced leaving the back but was soon leading the chase on the front two approaching three out. Though she made inroads on the runner-up, she did not have the speed to catch up to the leader but she still had seven lengths in hand of the remainder at the line. This was a slight step up on her UK debut and there is scope for further improvement with experience. 108

    En Couleur made a promising racecourse debut at Southwell back in March, but was unable to replicate that performance in two outings last month and started this race at 125/1. There were glimmers of hope in the profile as his dam is a half-sister to three winning hurdlers, and his trainer won this contest in 2017. Faring best of those held up, he was still in the rear leaving the back. However, he plugged on up the straight and narrowly got the best of a closely fought battle for fourth. Apart from getting close to the sixth, his jumping was sound throughout and this marks a new career best. Given that this was only the fourth time he had seen a racecourse, there is still potential for further development and his jumping should see him in good stead. 108

    Miracle Eagle had the tendency to be headstrong on the flat and it was this trait which caused her to wander on the approach to the second. However, she got over that hurdle well enough and was able to settle better entering the back. Though she was twice placed on the level, her rating of 57 seemed appropriate. Nevertheless, representing a sire and trainer with good records from limited numbers in the division, there was scope for improvement and her decent jumping enabled her to achieve a new high point. The way she faded suggests that she did not quite see out the race but while she lost fourth on the line, she was still clear of the remainder. She may be better suited by a less taxing racecourse, but this was still a promising introduction. 101

    Warranty was last seen winning a moderate handicap at Beverley back in July for Mark Johnston, but lowly though that race was, the form has worked out well. That he possibly raced on better ground on that occasion may have enhanced his superiority, but he still did it very easily and it was enough to warrant an auction price of £36,000. Available at 9/1 in the morning, he was backed down to 5/1 at the off. However, it was clear from the outset that he was likely to struggle as a string of sloppy and hesitant jumps saw him shuffle back to the rear of the field. While he attempted to make headway on the leaders, he never looked like moving into a challenging position and his sole reasonable jump at the penultimate flight was followed by a steady bunny-hop at the last. It would be difficult to assess his ability in isolation from his jumping as it was the latter which suffocated the former. He is very well bred for the discipline and he will not want for stamina so it would be too soon to write him off. Perhaps he might be suited by a small field affair on a stiff track in testing ground. However, there is little encouragement to be drawn from this performance alone. 100

    Ranco‘s last two outings in France saw him win a handicap off 76 and a claimer from which is was bought for €20,001 ahead of a nondescript hurdling debut at Southwell in early September. His jumping on that occasion went from sketchy to fair to sketchy and it was essentially the same here with four sound jumps sandwiched between clumsy hurdling in the opening stages, and another error at the last. This was a marked step up on his debut effort, but it still leaves him some way short of his flat form. Being an import of his mould in a yard of its habits, Ranco will likely improve again within a few more outings. 99

    The Imposter finished last on his hurdling debut at Chepstow but he did not jump too badly and largely jumped well to finish fourth of six at Bangor next time. Apart from getting close to the first and third, he posted a solid round on his English bow but was not quite able to match the form on this sounder surface. While he is unlikely to be much better than fair, this son of Authorized only made his racecourse debut in September and has shown some ability in his short career. He may find himself more competitive on softer ground depending on the handicap mark he is allotted. 91

    Walkonby earned four wins on the flat and was rated 77 following her latest win at Haydock in June. She disappointed on her next three outings but was better when fourth last time out at Doncaster. She took a keen hold from the outset and did not settle ahead of the race’s development unfolding. She did make headway along the back and was still in touch at the top of the straight. However, her exertions had taken a toll and she weakened ahead of finishing a forty-five length ninth. This was a disappointing performance on the face of it, but it was not without promise as her jumping had been very neat and she only made her first error at three out where she was squeezed out on the approach. The cheekpieces she wore at Doncaster were left off here and though she was still keen early on last time, it was not to the same extent so it is possible their reapplication can see her leave this performance well behind. 67

    Yulong Magicreef rubbed shoulders with classic winners on his racecourse debut for Jessica Harrington and was far from disgraced in that exalted company. However, his subsequent outings got progressively worse and he was last seen tailed off back in August. Though he was a best priced 8/1 in the morning, he drifted out throughout the day and was sent off at 20/1. While he was big over the first and steadied going into the fourth, there was not much to criticise about his jumping. Nevertheless, the distress signals were out before they got to the last in the back straight and he was eventually beaten by fifty lengths. There is little in his pedigree to suggest he will excel in the division, but he is still with a solid yard so better could have been expected. He has plenty to prove at this juncture. 69

    Fact Or Fable has now gone twenty-seven races without a win. He raced more prominently here than he had on his hurdling debut at Warwick. However, his jumping was clumsy and he was eventually tailed off. 51

    Numberoneson has the profile of a horse who can achieve success in the sphere, but he jumped poorly on his debut at Ludlow and he once again completely lacked fluency here. Though he raced prominently throughout, he was never able to get into a rhythm and began to fade before the turn for home. The reapplied tongue tie did nothing to improve his performance and he is becoming very disappointing. 49

    Two Sox was only a moderate maiden on the flat but his sire has made a solid start in the sphere. However, there is little else in the pedigree of Two Sox and after lacking fluency in the early stages, he soon became detached and was pulled up before the straight. While he reportedly lost a shoe, there was still little encouragement at any stage. 0

    Bachelors Hall
    • Total Posts 1463

    Turns out that I did the review for last week’s race at Catterick but I didn’t actually post it… If anybody else spots missing stuff (apart from previews for all-aged handicaps and the likes) then please let me know. The preview for Newcastle’s race will be up shortly and the ones for Sunday’s races at Leicester and Fairyhouse should be done by midday tomorrow.

    CATTERICK 20th November
    Preview review
    Gold Desert needed every yard of this trip but was still able to win. Grouseman was available at 22/1 and had only one behind him in the opening shows, but reasons were given for a good performance. The reasonable prospects filled the next two places and Magna Moralia’s disappointment was also foreseeable. 50/1 shot Monash finished well beaten but showed up for a long way and went as low as 2.7 in-running. Fahad, beaten twenty-three lengths, was the only one to really exceed expectations and Camahawk did not cash in his last chance. A satisfactory preview which left little reason for new lessons.

    Race review
    The race looked reasonable beforehand without holding pretentions to being anything out of the ordinary and that is the impression given in hindsight. Several of the leading contenders made numerous errors but there have been worse races in that regard and apart from Monash getting squeezed out when fading, there were no bad luck stories. A few did pull in the early stages but the pace was good and the winning time matched the concluding bumper. The favourite disappointed but his behaviour is open to scepticism and the finishing order is otherwise easy to justify so there is no reason to doubt the form.

    Gold Desert won a poor race on his hurdling debut but it was not a performance without promise and he has gone from strength to strength in his two subsequent outings. His jumping was reasonable without being great when third to Le Magnifique last time, but it was much more polished here. Getting close to the first was his only real error and though he did not meet the fourth or fifth perfectly, he still got over and away from them without losing momentum. Tracking the leaders throughout, he began to get shaken up before leaving the back straight but he never lost his position and there were just the two left in contention after the penultimate flight. He twice had to navigate around the leader both prior and after the final flight and would not actually hit the front until roughly fifty yards from the line. Every yard of this trip was essential to his success and he won as though he still had more in reserve. This marks another career best performance for Gold Desert and now that he is a more assured jumper, there is room for further improvement given a stiffer test. 120

    Grouseman rather exceeded expectations when fourth on his hurdling debut at Warwick, but given his trainer’s record in Catterick juveniles, this performance was not out of order. Held up just as he had been last time, he made his headway on the turn out of the back straight and picked up the lead two from home. While he idled on the approach to the last, he still jumped it with a two length advantage and was not idling on the run to the line. Rather, he was simply outstayed in the closing battle which is understandable given he is a son of Kyllachy. Although his jumping was imperfect, it was no worse than on his debut and the sharp nature of this race enabled him to run a new career best. Grouseman is unlikely to want a sterner examination and it remains to be seen whether he can replicate this effort but Pam Sly’s other juveniles to have ran well at Catterick did not show a discernible dip in form so he would be entitled to respect in the future. 112

    Genever Dragon failed to build on his winning debut on his return to Sedgefield, but he was back to something like his best on a sounder surface here. Though he led for much of the contest, he was not above making mistakes which included a bad blunder at the fifth, and a clumsy error two out which cost him the lead. He was readily dropped by the front pair from then on, but was still able to fend off Magna Moralia just as he had done at Sedgefield. Better jumping may have seen him finish closer, but he was always going to be vulnerable under a penalty and while there are races poor enough for him to win with a penalty, connections will be hoping that the handicapper takes some pity as his rating of 115 exceeds anything he has achieved on both codes. 106

    Magna Moralia came into the race on the back of a career best flat effort when finishing within a length of Cornerstone Lad while conceding two pounds. However, his disconcerting head carriage was apparent there and there was little likeable about either his jumping or his travelling. Pulling in the early stages, he never moved with ease and he made mistakes at all but one of his jumps. A post-race examination revealed no abnormalities and it would appear that Magna Moralia’s idiosyncrasies lie in his mind. It is possible that he may be seen to better effect over further, but a return to the flat offers a greater likelihood of success as hurdles appear to exacerbate his complications. 100

    Fahad came into the race with a flat mark of 72 and though it had dropped five pounds since June, it was still one of the highest in the field. Held up in the rear, he was never able to get on terms and merely passed beaten horses on the straight to finish a twenty-three length fifth. His round was not particularly fluent and he jumped right on a few occasions. While experience and a chance in direction may entice some improvement, he would not be immediately compelling. 90

    Temper Trap won a couple of moderate races on the flat and was not disgraced when last seen a month ago. He took a keen hold early on but was quick enough over several of his early jumps. He barely lifted his hooves at three out and after reaching for the penultimate flight, flattened the last when tired and beaten. Not the worst introduction and there may be a level for him eventually over hurdles, but he would not provoke much interest in open company. 82

    Monash ended his stint with Ed Walker with a rating of just 59, but he is related to some decent jumpers and his hurdling was very good for a debutant. Held up in midfield, he made headway on the turn for home and was travelling well enough to get matched at 2.7 in running. He was squeezed out approaching two out and the resultant mistake effectively ended his race as he faded back through the field. Open company will likely prove too much for the time being, but this was not a run devoid of promise and he may turn out to be an astute purchase for 6,000gns. 80

    Camahawk has a pedigree tailor made for juvenile hurdles and was not a total slouch on the flat. However, he had disappointed on his first two runs and he once again lacked fluency prior to finishing tailed off. There is a chance he could be allotted a very generous mark which enables him to fulfil his genetic destiny. 59

    Castle View‘s hurdling debut at Musselburgh was completely devoid of promise. His jumping was much better here but he still finished completely tailed off. 11

    Ring Of Gold showed promise on his first three outings during a flat career which began in July. However, he completely lacked fluency over the first three jumps and weakened rapidly towards the end of the back straight before pulling up. 0

    Clay Regazzoni ran nineteen times on the flat but looked anything but a natural on his first two outings over jumps. Racing in the rear, he was hesitant at the second, slow to get away from the third and very hesitant at the next where he put on the brakes, skewed over the hurdle and sent his ten pound conditional to the floor. 0

    Bachelors Hall
    • Total Posts 1463

    The introductory hurdle on Newcastle’s ‘Fighting Fifth’ card was introduced in 2016. Being a Class 2 contest, it attracts a useful standard of juvenile with the most notable being last year’s Triumph fourth Navajo Pass, and 2017 Fred Winter third Nietzsche. Incidentally, these two were each making their second starts over hurdles and had finished runner-up here behind a debutant. Paros was initially entered for this contest and his being left out of the declarations detracts from the quality. Nevertheless, it does feature two with useful placed form and four newcomers rated around the seventy mark so while it may not match the race’s better renewals, it is still better than an ordinary contest. Newcastle is a galloping track which rises steadily to the finish line. The winning DIs vary wildly by the standard used as they stand at 0.88 median, 1.41 mean, although both are lower than that of the average participant to one of the largest extents in the UK. Timeform’s course guide suggests that steadier paces explain a lower-than-expected casualty rate over fences, and this appears to read true of juvenile hurdles as the clear round rate of 96.76% is higher than average. The going is currently forecast to be good.

    Castel Gandolfo grg Fergal O’Brien f3-0-2 (76) 76 j1-0-1 (-) 104 112
    Dark Angel (Camacho){21-a}(3.00) 1/1 Teqany 2nd Elite Hurdle (G2), Wincanton 2020
    Castel Gandolfo saw the racecourse three times during the summer for Jessica Harrington before joining his full-brother, Elite Hurdle runner-up Teqany, at the Fergal O’Brien yard. Though still a maiden, he achieved a fair level of form on all surfaces and appears to have developed further at Musselburgh following a three month break. His jumping was not flawless as he was slow at the second, dived at the fifth, got in close to the sixth and skewed over the penultimate flight. He was also slightly hampered by the winner after the last but this did not affect the result. He was involved in a protracted race to the line but did not have enough to pass his more battle-hardened rival. He will benefit from the experience, particularly as that was his first run since being gelded, and should also strip fitter. The hurdling form is the strongest in the field, and with the yard back in form, he comes into the race a lively contender.

    I’m Easy bg Michael Easterby f3-0-0 (50) 45 j1-0-0 (-) 56 56
    Archipenko (Sadler’s Wells){20-c}(0.85) 0.5 Strategic Bid 2nd Maiden Hurdle, Cork 2012
    None of Archipenko’s eleven juvenile hurdlers have been winners, but I’m Easy does have winning jumpers on the damline in Sword Of Honour (2/1), King Of Castile (3/1) and useful types Fingal Bay and Oodachee (both 4/3). So while he achieved little in three flat outings, there was a modicum of hope that he could do better over hurdles. None of that hope turned up on his jumps debut at Southwell however, as he lacked fluency and was beaten by nearly fifty lengths.

    My Macho Man chg Maurice Barnes f4-1-1 (70) 74
    Camacho (Peintre Celebre){1-l}(1.08) 2/1 Polemique 3rd 4yo Hurdle, Dax 2012
    Maurice Barnes rarely goes too long without a winner over jumps, but he is zero from twenty-seven with juvenile hurdlers since 2008/09. Nonetheless, none were rated as high as My Macho Man who joined his new yard with a rating of 70. He made a winning debut in a Newcastle novice stakes at the end of February although it is not a race that has worked out well as none of his rivals have come out to win and the highest rating carried to a place in a handicap was 62. Twice beaten by over eight lengths at Beverley and Hamilton in the summer, he was better in first time cheekpieces when second in a soft ground seller at Musselburgh last month (winner since tailed off in a handicap). His transfer came at the Tattersalls Autumn sale where he left John Quinn for 7,000 guineas. John Quinn is one of the better trainers in the division, although his former inmates do not fare quite as well with the only winner from six being 50,000gns purchase Lisheen Castle. Camacho’s record as a sire is fair, Peintre Celebre is the strongest damsire in this field and a pair of jumpers placed appear on the damline. My Macho Man’s profile is not barren, but it is patchy and his flat rating is difficult to justify.

    Sir Charles Punch bg Tim Easterby f12-0-2 (68) 79
    Sir Percy (Archipenko){1-k}(0.33) 3/1 Cava Bien 2nd Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (104), Newbury 2006
    Starting his career with James Given, Sir Charles Punch joined Tim Easterby for 17,000 guineas last Autumn. Returning for his stable debut in early June, he contested five handicaps at Haydock and another two at Doncaster and Newcastle, thrice finishing within a few lengths of the winner. His mark dropped seven pounds in the process which is perhaps less a reflection on his capacity, and more his ability to fulfil same as he had a tendency of sweating up and pulling hard. Sir Percy rarely gets top class juvenile hurdlers, but he does win more than his fare share and only three other sires have more winners since 2013/14. Archipenko’s record as a sire and damsire in the division is poor, although the granddam is a half-sister to useful hurdler Cava Bien. Tim Easterby is the only trainer in the field to have won at Newcastle with a juvenile since 2008/09, but is not in the best of form at the moment and there are concerns over the horse’s habit of pulling hard.

    Son Of Red bg Alan King f7-1-2 (66) 70
    French Navy (Kalanisi){5-b}(1.67) 3/1 Always Bold 3rd Juvenile Hurdle, Doncaster 2009
    Alan King is the winningmost trainer of juvenile hurdlers in the Great Britain and Ireland since 2008/09, but twenty-three races have passed since he last scored in the division. His first time out strike rate of 28.76% is the eighth best in the country for trainers with ten or more runners, and his latest newcomer is Son Of Red. Racing four times as a two-year-old without much success, he was third off 61 in a ten furlong Chelmsford handicap on his return in September. Following a gelding operation, he finished second at Yarmouth on soft ground over the same trip, and he finally broke his duck when stepped up to a mile and a half at Southwell just over four weeks ago. While he perhaps won with something in hand, he did make a meal of winning the race as he edged around on the run to the line. Furthermore, it was not a high quality contest, but the front two did pull clear and the runner-up has since placed twice off a four pound higher mark so the form looks solid enough. French Navy is having his first crop in the division but can not be judged on his first two runners as neither had worthwhile flat form. Sons of Shamardal have just a fair record in this discipline but at 16.1hh, French Navy at least has a decent size about him. Kalanisi has not done a great great deal as a damsire and the first two generations on the damline offer little reassurance. Nevertheless, it begins to improve with Always Bold at 3/1 while Tatenen can be found further back at 5/4.

    State Crown chg Evan Williams f3-0-2 (78) 79 j1-0-1 (-) 99 104
    New Approach (Dubawi){10-a}(0.75) No jumps relatives
    Costing £24,000 at the Goffs UK September sale, State Crown is the most expensive runner in the field to have been sold publicly while in-training. He had three runs on the flat for Charlie Appleby without winning, achieving a similar level of form on each occasion and finishing with a rating of 78 which is the highest in the field. He made a perfectly satisfactory hurdling debut at Ludlow sixteen days ago, racing prominently throughout before fading somewhat to finish a thirteen length third. It was not a bad little contest and the form has since been boosted by fourth placed Mr Shady, (who was six lengths behind State Crown), finishing second at Wetherby earlier this week. There was little to complain about insofar as his jumping is concerned and he travelled easily throughout. His performance was rather undermined by a tendency to hang left and it will be interesting to see if he can improve for going the right direction around Newcastle. Evan Williams traditionally has a good record in the sphere with a healthy winners to runners rate of 27.71%. His campaigns had generally been seasonal in their approach but the shift towards the winter game has seen his success with juveniles decrease as he has had just one winner in the division since the 2016/2017 season. Nevertheless, State Crown comes into this race on his own merit and while the trainer has gone nearly a month without a winner, his charges are still managing to run into places.

    Station To Station bg Brian Ellison f3-0-0 (70) 66
    Cacique (Kyllachy){1-l}(2.43) 2/1 Magellan 2nd Maiden Hurdle, Ayr 2019
    Clive Cox saddled Station To Station three times last year after which he had an official rating of 70. Quite what he has done to achieve that mark is not immediately apparent. While his debut seventh of twelve at Newbury was completed in the company of those who later raced in the seventies, the same can not be said of the contests at York or Chelmsford. Since then, he has joined Brian Ellison who has a very good winners to runners rate of 36%, and sent Nietzsche to finish second in the 2016 edition of this race. The late Cacique has produced just ten juvenile hurdlers since 2008/09, but while none achieved an RPR exceeding 120, four were able to win in the division. Kyllachy’s record as a sire of juveniles is very moderate and a runner-up in an Ayr maiden hurdle is the national hunt highlight of the damline. While Station To Station may well have developed after a year’s absence, he was still very fresh when last seen and he may be seen to better effect after a run under his girth.

    Temper Trap brg Tim Easterby f11-2-1 (56) 65 j1-0-0 (-) 79 82
    Slade Power (Teofilo){14-c}(0.45) 3/1 Dynamagic 5th 4yo Maiden Hurdle, Tramore 2018
    Despite being a dual winner on the flat, the quality of Temper Trap’s form was moderate and he was not especially impressive on his hurdling debut at Catterick last week. Though he was keen early on, his jumping was still decent until his early exertions saw his fluency disappear in the closing stages. While beaten thirty-one lengths, it was not a debut without promise and he should be able to improve for the experience. However, he appears to be the second string and will probably find more success with a handicap mark.

    Strong prospects
    1. State Crown
    Reasonable prospects
    2. Castel Gandolfo
    3. Son Of Red
    Feasible prospects
    4. Sir Charles Punch
    Moderate prospects
    5. Temper Trap
    6. Station To Station
    7. My Macho Man
    Negligible prospects
    8. I’m Easy

    Bachelors Hall
    • Total Posts 1463

    Couldn’t wait to get this one done so here it is earlier than anticipated. A note for this and future previews involving French imports. Instead of hyperlinking the individual races, which can have issues on some servers or something, I will put up the horse’s equidia profile on the top of the screen where the links are much more reliable. There are, of course, options to use attheraces and france-galop and these are both excellent resources. Nevertheless, equidia will have substantially more races than the former, and requires no logging in like the latter.

    Sunday’s Grade 3 at Fairyhouse has a strong history and graduates from this race regularly have an impact on the season’s bigger contests. It’s most notable winner was Our Conor who took this race in 2012 ahead of victories in the Spring Juvenile Hurdle and the Triumph Hurdle. In 2016, Landofhopeandglory, Bapaume and Mega Fortune would between them would fill the first three places in Leopardstown Boxing Day contest, the first two places in the Spring Juvenile and the Punchestown Champion, and three of the first five slots in the Triumph. Other notable graduates include Triumph runner-up Coeur Sublime, Spring Juvenile winner A Wave Of The Sea and future Champion Hurdler Espoir d’Allen. While this year’s renewal will do well to match the race’s legacy, it appears to be giving itself every chance with a very appetising line-up. Willie Mullins sends his first hurdles import of the season, Gordon Elliott fields a pair who won very well on their debuts, and Druid’s Altar bids to maintain his perfect record for Joseph O’Brien. Fairyhouse is one of the less demanding tracks in the country and the average winning DIs for juveniles of 1.20 median, 1.28 mean would attest to this premise. The clear round rate of 97.78% is the third highest in Ireland, making it more forgiving than most other courses. The going is currently soft but there is next to no rain forecast for the weekend.

    Triumph Odds
    Druid’s Altar 33/1
    Saint Sam 33/1
    Zanahiyr 33/1
    Rock Chica 50/1
    Glorious Zoff 66/1

    Saint Sam bg Willie Mullins j3-2-0 (-) 121
    Saint des Saints (Linda’s Lad){19-b}(0.67) 1/0 Ladeka 2nd Prix Bournosienne (G3), Auteuil 2013
    Following a fairly lukewarm debut in the Prix du Buissonnet at Dieppe on the first of June, Saint Sam returned to the Normandy venue later that month where he put up a battling performance to win the Prix Soldat. While the field was strung out and he showed a nice attitude in winning that race, the subsequent form has not been anything special. The runner-up Shentri will be familar to those following the division as one of the trees that Nassalam at Fontwell. Shentri was one of two subsequent winners behind Saint Sam at Dieppe, both of whom scoring in claimers at Auteuil. His latest two length victory in the Prix de l’Oudon does carries significantly more substance as he gave five kilos to runner-up Piriac, currently rated 130, who previously finished within a length of the aforementioned Nassalam while in receipt of a kilo. Saint Sam gave a two kilo and a four-and-a-half length beating to third placed Horse Maha who has since won at Dieppe and Toulouse and is currently rated 136 while the fifth (134) and seventh (128) are also subsequent winners. Saint des Saints is an exceptional jumps stallion who also does well with his three and four year olds, and while Linda’s Lad has yet to have many opportunities as a damsire, he has produced three black type juveniles as a sire. Saint Sam’s family is a strong one for the division. While his dam won only one of her fourteen stars over hurdles, she finished placed five times in pattern company. She is also a half-sister to winning hurdler Miss Lino and to the dam of dual Grade One winning juvenile We Have A Dream. Other high class jumpers to appear on the damline include Champion Four Year Old Hurdle runner up Blood Cotil (4/3), Grand Course de Haies d’Auteuil runner-up Video Tape (5/2), 1995/96 French Champion Juvenile Villez (5/3), and Grade One winning Four-Year-Old and French Champion Hurdler Vaporetto (5/3). Derby third and top NH sire Presenting also appears at 5/4. Jean-Philippe Dubois has been the source of three UK/IRE juveniles thus far with two of them (Monte Cristo and Zanzi Win) winning during their first seasons. Trainer Willie Mullins is one of the leading trainers in the division and he has won this contest twice with Analifet in 2013, and Kalkir in 2014. His first time out strike rate of 34.48% is fantastic, and when imports from French hurdles are isolated, that figure increases to a very impressive 41.94%. Along with Kalkir, Bapaume is another who had his first Irish run in this contest. But although he would finish third in the Triumph and win the Punchestown Champion, he was unable to win his renewal of the race. Finding holes in Saint Sam’s profile is an arduous endeavour but it can be noted that he is without a run since July, he never ran at Auteuil, he was never in the first three in the market, he had to work hard to win his races, and he has to concede four pounds to rivals who could potentially be very useful. Nevertheless, Saint Sam is an interesting recruit to the division and a big run would come to the surprise of nobody.

    Druid’s Altar bg Joseph Patrick O’Brien f5-1-2 (86) 79 j1-1-0 (-) 125 124
    Mastercraftsman (Sadler’s Wells){13-c}(1.20) 0.5 Waterlord 4th Rossington Main Novices’ Hurdle (G2), Haydock 2018
    Druid’s Altar won at the fifth time of asking in a twelve furlong, heavy ground, Listowel maiden when last seen on the flat in late September. However, it is his second in a similar contest at Bellewstown a month earlier that makes for more interesting reading as a literal line through the winner 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 was significant in his making a winning hurdling debut at Punchestown a fortnight ago. Either holding or disputing the lead, he helped to set a searching pace which left his rivals 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 impromptu bunching in behind. Notwithstanding, he burned off previous winner 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, the son of Mastercraftsman emerged with credit and has been chosen to represent a Joseph O’Brien yard which had the first two last year, and won with its other runner in 2016. Further encouragement is drawn from the fact that he won first time out as the strike rate of the yard’s juveniles from the flat rises from 10.87% to 23.53% between the first two runs over hurdles. If there are reservations around his profile, they revolve around a possible preference for softer conditions, his finishing quite tired last time out, and that he was twice beaten at this course on the flat, including by Zanahiyr on his second outing. Notwithstanding, he is another with plenty of potential and his prospects in this company are a long way from negligible.

    Glorious Zoff bg Gordon Elliott f6-0-1 (72) 74 j2-1-0 (-) 126 134
    Zoffany (Overbury){4-r}(1.40) 3/1 Spate River 1st Handicap Hurdle (94), Southwell 2012
    Rated 72 following six runs over a mile or less for Charlie Hills, Glorious Zoff fetched 26,000 guineas at the Tattersalls August sale. Former inmates at Faringdon Place have a good record in juvenile hurdles and he made a very impressive hurdling debut in a maiden at Sligo, winning by twelve very easy lengths from Crassus. His jumping was not perfectly fluent, but while the errors he made were minor, he impressed in the way he readjusted himself to mitigate against any loss of momentum. On the strength of this performance, his trip to Sedgefield looked like a formality and he went as low as 1.01 in-running. However, his jumping was shadow of its Sligo glory and the mistakes he made were exacerbated either by an unfortunate occurrence of slipping or stumbling on landing, or by having his path blocked by other rivals. It would not be accurate to describe him as wholly unlucky however, as he also showed signs of greenness, particularly on the run between the final two flights. Furthermore, he also failed to completely see out the trip which will remain a problem on soft ground if he does not travel as well as he had first time out. The form of his Sedgefield win has been boosted by third placed Gold Desert winning at Catterick, and Glorious Zoff remains a horse of potential. However, he is the stable’s second string here and there will be more suitable opportunities in the future.

    Wyett Earp bg Anthony Mullins f8-0-0 (48) 58 j1-0-0 (-) 83 81
    Lawman (Nayef){4-l}(1.67) 4/1 Cerulean 5th Maiden Hurdle, Newton Abbot 2004
    Anthony Mullins won this race with The Last Stand in 2005, and was third with Summer Break in 2000. However, Wyett Earp is more speedily bred than is ideal for the discipline, and he lacked fluency before finishing tired on his hurdling debut at Punchestown on Tuesday. He will be running to collect sixth place prize money of €275 and hopefully, he can do so safely without making a nuisance of himself.

    Zanahiyr chg Gordon Elliott f4-1-1 (-) 80 j1-1-0 (-) 125 130
    Nathaniel (Marju){9-c}(0.53) 2/1 Zarinava 1st Doncaster Mares’ Hurdle (G2), Doncaster 2012
    Zanahiyr’s first two efforts on the flat came in a pair of maidens at the Curragh either side of spring where he finished midfield behind classic horses. Stepped up to thirteen furlongs on soft ground at Navan, he failed by a length and a quarter to justify favouritism but was able to get off the mark at Fairyhouse in early July. Racing over a mile and a half on good to yielding ground, Zanahiyr took up the running at the distance and lengthened well inside the final furlong to win by just over a length. He had several horses behind subsequently rated around the 80 mark, including Druid’s Altar who was a four length fifth. By Nathaniel and related to numerous useful hurdlers including Zarinava, Zarif and Zarkandar, he is bred to be a juvenile and he made a good hurdling debut at Ballinrobe in mid October. Settling just behind the pacesetters, he jumped very well at most of his obstacles and the only mistakes he made were reaching slightly at the fourth, getting close to the sixth and being rather big at the last. Though he was briefly outpaced by his main rival approaching the last, he had the class to power clear of Dark Voyager on the run-in and ran strongly to the line. He was still showing signs of greenness as he went slightly wide at the last, but he responded well to the instructions to get back to the rail and he was very resolute in the concluding battle. Dark Voyager rather let the form down when disappointing behind Druid’s Altar at Punchestown, but that alone would not negate the performance given the flat form at this venue. He is the first string for a yard which has not only done very well in the division this season, but also has three wins and four seconds in this race. A course winner with form on soft ground, has already shown good qualities over hurdles and with improvement in his jumping and mentality anticipated from his Ballinrobe effort, he comes into this contest with a very good profile.

    Rock Chica bf Thomas Mullins f6-0-0 (38) 40 j3-1-0 (-) 104 105
    Rock Of Gibraltar (Bahri){1-l}(1.86) 2/1 Chica Buena 1st Fillies’ Juvenile Hurdle (Listed), Aintree 2018
    Rock Chica was rated just 38 on the flat, but there were hints of promise on her debut which she was able to fulfil when demolishing a weak field at Tipperary last month. However, she was let down by her jumping last time out behind Druid’s Altar at Punchestown. While she did underperform, she was outclassed in any case and it will likely be the same story here.

    Strong prospects
    1. Zanahiyr
    Reasonable prospects
    2. Saint Sam
    3. Druid’s Altar
    Feasible prospects
    4. Glorious Zoff
    Moderate prospects
    5. Rock Chica
    Negligible prospects
    6. Wyett Earp

    Bachelors Hall
    • Total Posts 1463

    A juvenile hurdle used to be a regular fixture at this meeting, and the first two editions in the new millennium were contested by decent sorts. Festival handicap third Montreal finished second in the 2000 renewal while the highly talented but ill-fated Vol Solitaire won in 2001. However, the advent of the fillies’ race meant that the last intergender juvenile hurdle at Leicester was held in November 2009. Such type of race makes its return tomorrow, but welcome though it is, it is not the most compelling affair. Only two of those with hurdles experience have worthwhile form and the highest rated newcomer is a German import with an equivalent mark of 56. Nevertheless, a race is still a race and the horses are all very lovely in their own rights. The hurdles course, having been watered for the flat during the summer, is said to get very testing, and the long and gradual uphill finish places further emphasis on stamina. These sentiments play out in the winning DIs of 0.89 median, 1.00 mean which are both low in their own right as well as lower than those of the average runner. The going is currently forecast as soft, good-to-soft in places with no rain expected before the race starts.

    African Sun bg Joanne Thomason-Murphy f6-0-0 (44) 45
    Teofilo (Cape Cross){5-b}(0.60) 2/1 Motorway 1st Handicap Hurdle (122), Newbury 2008
    African Sun was well beaten on all six flat starts for Ed Dunlop, and was tailed off on his final two outings in a 0-50 classified stakes at Catterick, and a Lingfield handicap off 46. He fetched 1,000 guineas at the Tattersalls August sale and has joined a yard whose sole juvenile hurdler was unplaced on all six outings. The pedigree is not lamentable however as Teofilo wins more than his fair share of races in the sphere, and the dam is a half-sister to useful handicapper Motorway. Furthermore, the yard’s sole juvenile had a 100% completion rate. Nevertheless, neither of these factors are enough to offer much hope.

    Bentley Wood bg Dai Burchell f6-0-1 (65) 76 j1-0-0 (-) 0 0
    Sixties Icon (Mastercraftsman){10}(0.71) 3/2 Argentino 1st Handicap Hurdle (126), Killarney 2015
    By Sixties Icon and out of a Mastercraftsman mare, Bentley Wood has the sirelines to make a juvenile hurdler. His flat form as a two-year-old was also sufficient to earn an initial rating of 75. However, he beat only one home in June on his sole flat start since February and was very poor on his hurdling debut at Uttoxeter last month. While his jumping was fine in the early stages, he began to make errors in the back straight and ultimately finished completely tailed off. He has since had wind surgery which might help him rekindle some of his ability.

    Blue Slate grg Barry Brennan f8-0-1 (47) 58 j1-0-0 (-) 66 76
    Alhebayeb (Halling){7-f}(1.15) 3/2 Eddiemaurice 1st Handicap Hurdle (122), Ascot 2016
    Starting his career with Stan Moore, Blue Slate’s best effort was probably his third in a Lingfield handicap off 53 back in February. His last run for the yard was in March and after tailing off on his stable debut at Kempton in September, he finished down the field in a pair of sellers at Leicester. The first coming on the flat, and the second on his hurdles debut a fortnight ago. His jumping was reasonable for the most part and he was still in contention at the top of the straight. However, he would ultimately finish tailed off and while it was not the worst debut, there was nothing to suggest he make an impact in ordinary company.

    Galidermes bg Charlie Mann f13-3-3 FrF (66) 38 j1-0-0 (-) 76 72
    Hunter’s Light (Galileo){6-a}(0.58) 2/1 Theos Quercus 1st 4yo Hurdle, Dieppe 2001
    Three times a winner on the flat, Galidermes’ latest victory came in the most provincial of claimers at Montignac after which he joined Charlie Mann for €6,001. He made mistakes at most hurdles on his UK debut at Warwick, was never able to get on terms and finished tailed off. His flat form, moderate though it may be, is still the strongest in this field, there are reasons on his pedigree for him to perform in the sphere and his trainer has been amongst the winners recently. It would be rash to dismiss him after just one outing, but he still comes into this race with something to prove.

    Goodbye Grass bg Luke McJannet f1-0-0 (-) 41
    Helmet (Daylami){14-b}(1.00) 3/2 Tsar Noir 2nd Handicap Chase (Listed), Clairefontaine 2019
    Newmarket trainer Luke McJannet sends out his first juvenile hurdler tomorrow in Goodbye Grass. Goodbye Grass finished last of twelve in a Lingfield novice stakes on his sole outing back in early September at odds of 150/1. Sire Helmet does get winners in the sphere and his record is just below average. Daylami has a similar record as a damsire and the nearest jumps relative is fairly useful French handicapper Tsar Noir. However, with no proven ability to date and a patchy profile, he is not a particularly compelling newcomer.

    Opine bg Jonjo O’Neill f8-0-0 (52) 57 j2-0-1 (-) 105 109
    Authorized (Numerous){4-n}(0.94) .5 Tamarix Jode 6th 3yo Claiming Hurdle, Auteuil 2016
    Opine is out of a half-sister to Treve, but it became apparent during eight runs on the flat for Michael Bell that her talent was not inherited. While not entirely disgraced by finishing midfield in most of his races this year, he was only contesting Class 6 handicaps. While 15/2 was available in the morning, he started at 4/1 for his hurdling debut at Huntingdon in late September. His jumping was not proficient as he was either too big or too close at most of his hurdles. Nevertheless, he still finished just over two lengths behind the surprise winner, and was upwards of nineteen lengths clear of the remainder. He failed to capitalise on that promise next time at Lingfield and while his jumping settled down after the first two flights, it deteriorated in the straight and he took a tired tumble at the last when beaten. His flat form suggested stamina would not have been a concern and being by Authorized, he should also have gone in the ground. Despite that being a disappointing effort, it would still be good enough to make him competitive here. Furthermore, the trainer’s strike rate is highest on the third run with all four winners coming in non-handicap company. Though given to inconsistency, Opine’s profile entitles him to plenty of respect in this company if putting his best hoof forward.

    Sergeant bg Milton Harris f5-2-1 DeF (56) 0
    Nutan (Dylan Thomas){1-s}(1.29) 3/2 Russian Shift 3rd Conditions Hurdle, Auteuil 2002
    German trainer Christian Von Der Recke won the 2003 Finesse Juvenile Hurdle with Moneytrain and supplied trainer Milton Harris with Mondul who won the same race in 2004. Sergeant is the latest horse to make the journey between trainers although while Mondul had a GAG of 83.5 (BHA 87), Sergeant’s is just 68 (BHA 56). Furthermore, while Von Der Recke has been the source of ten runners in the division since 2008/09, only one has been a winner. Sergeant’s GAG of 68 was earned after five runs in Germany over distances ranging from nine to twelve furlongs and he was last seen making all to win a maiden at Baden-Baden. Although the value of that form is difficult to assess, the runner-up twice finished midfield in French races while the third placed (beaten four lengths and receiving five pounds) won a pair of handicaps at Cologne off equivalent marks of 45 and 50. Despite the win coming in a maiden, this was the second time he tasted success as he made a winning debut on the all-weather at Dortmund last year. Sire Nutan, the 2015 German Derby winner, is having his first crop in the division and while his sole charge Nuriel has achieved little, Nutan is closely related to top hurdler Melon. Sergeant’s dam is out of a half-sister to Mill Reef Stakes winner Cool Creek while Russian Shift, who finished third in an ordinary Auteuil hurdle, is the closest hurdling relative at 3/2. Milton Harris has just a fair record in the division overall and his first time out rate is just 6.67%. Nevertheless, his clear round rate is the best in this field for trainers with more than six runs, and he sent Pyramid Place out to only narrowly fail to win at Lingfield ahead of a win at Bangor. Sergeant’s flat form does not leave him stranded and he showed a stout attitude to win last time so a bold showing would not be a surprise.

    Sure I’m Your Man bg Jennie Candlish f6-0-0 (55) 64 j1-0-1 (-) 89 102
    Sea The Moon (Dalakhani){9-c}(0.33) 2/1 Tugboat 1st Novice Hurdle, Galway 2012
    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, being by Sea The Moon and related to Tugboat (2/1) and Rigidity (3/3) gives him a respectable pedigree for the discipline and he attracted a fair amount of support in the betting prior to his hurdling debut at Bangor. 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 winner Pyramid Place three furlongs out but was unable to keep tabs on him from thereon. It was a satisfactory debut and given that he is unexposed and bred to develop with age, he can improve for the experience.

    You Owe Me chg Sarah-Jayne Davies f6-0-1 (60) 64 j2-0-0 (-) 68 68
    Champs Elysees (Giant’s Causeway){10-a}(1.50) no jumps relatives
    Starting the season with a rating of 69, his mark deteriorated nine pounds before ne left Mark Johnston for £19,000 at the Goffs Summer Sale. He jumped poorly on his hurdling debut at Huntingdon before tailing off, and though his jumping improved next time at Uttoxeter, he was beaten even further. He has subsequently had a wind operation but he is still left with plenty to prove.

    Glass Of Bubbles bf Charlie Longsdon f6-1-0 (65) 66 j1-0-0 0 0
    War Command (Sadler’s Wells){1-c}(1.00) 0.5 Our Power 4th Finesse Juvenile Hurdle (G2), Cheltenham 2019
    Glass Of Bubbles failed to place in five starts for Henry de Bromhead, but she ran away with a heavy ground seller at this venue for Adrian Nicholls early last month. She did not receive any bids after the race, but she would join Charlie Longsdon and her hurdling debut came just over three weeks later at Fakenham. Slow and untidy at several of the hurdles, she quickly lost ground in the back straight and would finish completely tailed off. This performance was too bad to be true but it is still not a good foundation for her hurdling career. Nevertheless, she may improve for the softer surface and has winning form on the course. Although that seller has not worked out, she did have Blue Slate in behind if nothing else.

    Strong prospects
    1. Sergeant
    Reasonable prospects
    2. Sure I’m Your Man
    3. Opine
    Feasible prospects
    4. Glass Of Bubbles
    5. Galidermes
    Moderate prospects
    6. Bentley Wood
    Negligible prospects
    7. Blue Slate
    8. You Owe Me
    9. African Sun
    10. Goodbye Grass

    Bachelors Hall
    • Total Posts 1463

    A seriously impressive performance from Zanahiyr and he is very much worthy of his place at the head of the market. Have some IRL stuff to attend so reviews won’t be coming immediately but in the meantime, here is the preview for tomorrow’s race at Fakenham

    Tomorrow’s juvenile hurdle at Fakenham has been contested four times, in 2008, 2009, 2017 and 2018. While the average winner’s seasonal RPR of 115 is above the course standard, the course is ranked ahead of only Cartmel and the 115 would still be in the bottom third. No winner of this contest was rated higher than 68 on the flat although 2018 runner-up Song For Someone has since developed into a high class hurdler. This year’s renewal could be fairly useful as it features two with winning form over hurdles, three who have been placed in the division, and a 75 rated Alan King newcomer. The sharpest track in the UK, it is said to be more challenging than its appearance although the average winners’ DIs of 1.22 median, 1.57 mean suggest that it is still an unexacting test. The clear round rate of 97.87% also suggests that it is a fairly generous jumping test. The going is currently good but some light rain is forecast from late tomorrow morning.

    Triumph Odds
    Hacker des Places 66/1

    Hacker Des Places bg Paul Nicholls j3-1-2 (132) 117 108
    Great Pretender (Le Havre){7}(0.45) 2/0 Wild Queen 1st Prix Triquerville (L 4yo Chs), Auteuil 2006
    Hacker des Places carries a winners’ penalty into this race, which he earned when landing an ordinary event at Dax back in June. The runner-up there has since won a couple of minor events of his own but the overall form is only average. His debut effort at Dieppe was more compelling however as he ran close to Nicky Henderson’s Paros, who headed the Triumph markets over the summer, and the irrefutably listed class Jeu de Paume. He had shown some greenness on his two starts in France and had jumped overly big on occasion. However, while those traits were prevalent on his UK debut at Wincanton last month, his demonstrable ability to jump swiftly was not. He was fresh early without ever really settling and though he traded lower than his SP in running, he never looked like putting his stamp on the race. He was readily outpaced by the winner in the straight and his concluding jumps were rather tired ones. This was not a faithful reflection of his ability and he can be expected to improve for fitness and experience. Hacker des Places comes into this race with very good prospects on form, although his breeding form and suggest that he would prefer more give in the ground.

    Jersey Grey grg Alexandra Dunn f5-0-0 (48) 52 j3-1-0 (106) 97 107
    Rajsaman (Peintre Celebre){16-h}(0.74) 0.5 Grand Banks 1st 4yo Conditions Hurdle, Compiegne 2018
    A 48 rated maiden on the flat for Jamie Osborne, decent hurdling enabled Jersey Grey to outrun his 125/1 odds at Chepstow on his jumps debut, and he built on that promise when winning at Lingfield next time out. The runner-up at Lingfield subsequently scored at Bangor while Opine, who was held when falling at the last, was second at Leicester – albeit behind a horse who was previously well beaten in selling company. Jersey Grey was understandably outclassed at Cheltenham last time, but while he returns to calmer waters, he still has to shoulder a penalty against potentially useful rivals.

    Can’t Stop Now chg Chris Gordon f6-0-2 (73) 74 j2-0-1 (-) 94 96
    Starspangledbanner (Ivan Denisovich){1-n}(7.00) 2/1 Aviatorilor 3rd 3YO Hurdle, Argentan 2015
    Twice placed from six flat outings for Clive Cox, Can’t Stop Now sold for 7,000 guineas at the Tattersalls July Sale to join a yard with a solid record in the lower grades. His hurdling debut came at Kempton behind Overpriced Mixer and while he began with a succession of novicey errors, his jumping improved as the race progressed. He was still in touch with the winner turning for home but he did finish tired and while this could be mitigated by settling better, his stamina is not assured either on breeding or on his flat form. He retains the hood that was reapplied at Ludlow, although that was not enough to prevent him from effectively refusing to race. While Can’t Stop Now should be suited by the forecast conditions, he would still have something to find on form even without his questionable attitude.

    Grouseman bg Pam Sly f7-0-0 (50) 56 j2-0-1 (118) 104 112
    Kyllachy (Danehill Dancer){8-d}(1.91) 2/1 Pivot Bridge 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 at Warwick early in the month and he progressed even further at Catterick ten days ago. Held up just as he had been at Warwick, he made headway on the turn out of the back straight and picked up the lead two from home. While he idled on the approach to the last, he still jumped it with a two length advantage and was not idling on the run to the line. Rather, he was simply outstayed in the closing battle with Gold Desert which is understandable given his parentage. Although his jumping was imperfect, it was no worse than on his debut and the sharp nature of the race enabled him to run a new career best. Grouseman is unlikely to want a sterner examination and it remains to be seen whether he can replicate this effort. Nevertheless, Pam Sly’s other juveniles to have ran well at Catterick did not show a discernible dip in form next time and the yard has won one from four with juveniles at the venue since 2008/09. Strictly on UK form and at the weights, Grouseman sets the standard and if his latest performance can be accepted at face value, he comes into the race with a strong chance.

    Jack Ryan bg John Ryan f12-1-1 (62) 64 j1-0-1 (-) 92 101
    Harbour Watch (Rock Of Gibraltar){19-c}(3.00) 3/1 Cuban Piece 1st Juvenile Maiden Hurdle, Bangor 2011
    A winner over seven furlongs on heavy ground back in October, Jack Ryan made a respectable hurdling debut at Musselburgh early in the month. Apart from clipping the top of the sixth, he put in a clean round and was the best of those who were held up. He made some headway turning in but was never able to reach the leaders and was beaten nearly twelve lengths in the end. The runner-up has given the form credence with a third at Newcastle and his performance was about as good as anything he achieved on the flat. However, he has since been well beaten in two outings on the all weather and would probably prefer softer conditions.

    Nachtstern chg Neil King f4-0-0 DeF (45) 35
    Lord Of England (Monsun){4-r}(0.50) 0.5 Nordano 3rd Finale Juvenile Hurdle (G1), Chepstow 2019
    Unplaced in four starts on the continent for Jean-Pierre Carvalho, whose sole import in the division was winless in two starts, Nachtstern has not seen a racecourse since October last year. The form he produced was moderate and his GAG of 62.5 is the equivalent of a BHA mark of 45. However, his breeding is certainly more compelling as Lord Of England has won with three of his five juvenile hurdlers, and the dam produced last season’s useful juvenile Nordano and is a full-sister to King George winner Novellist. Nachtstern joins his half-brother at a Neil King yard with a very healthy winners to runners rate of 41.94% and improvement rate of 61.54%. However,
    his strike rate first time out is only 6.9% and while Nachtstern has an interesting pedigree, he still has to overcome moderate form and a long absence.

    Tamaris brc Gary Moore f4-1-0 (73) 79 j1-0-1 (-) 90 100
    Dansili (Montjeu){5-h}(0.79) 3/1 Praxiteles 2nd Handicap Hurdle (125), Cheltenham 2010
    Prior to his hurdles bow at Huntingdon on the first of the month, Tamaris had been off the track since winning a Wolverhampton handicap on his final start for Roger Charlton in late July. Nevertheless, he was subject to steady market support throughout the day and opened as favourite in the ring. His jumping left something to be desired however, as he was awkward at the first and third, trailed his legs at the second, took off too early two out and was slow getting away from the last. Nevertheless, his eleven length third was still a perfectly credible debut effort and but for blowing up late on, looked likely to take second. The front two from that contest have each subsequently been beaten in handicaps which does knock the form somewhat. Furthermore, while Tamaris can improve for fitness and experience, Gary Moore does have a decent first time out strike rate so there may not have been a great deal left to work on.

    The Cincinnati Kid bc Alan King f7-1-3 (75) 82
    Charm Spirit (Medaaly){8-b}(0.54) 2/1 Tryphaena 1st Handicap Hurdle (C,112), Fairyhouse 2000
    Alan King had his first win in the division since January when Son Of Red made a winning debut at Newcastle on Saturday. He runs another newcomer here in The Cincinnati Kid who left Richard Hannon for 55,000 guineas at the Tattersalls Autumn sale. Who Dares Win made the switch between these yards ahead of winning twice during the 2015/16 season, be the seven others who made the same journey since 2008 all failed to score as juveniles. The Cincinnati Kid made his racecourse debut at Salisbury in August, and was initially rated 71 after three outings. His form improved for a switch to the all-weather in October as he twice finished placed at Wolverhampton in a pair of twelve furlong handicaps, and he comfortably avenged his victor over two furlongs longer at Chelmsford later that month. His flat rating of 75 is the highest in this field and he should have no trouble at the trip. Charm Spirit has yet to be tested in the sphere, but Invincible Spirit has shown himself a reasonable sire of sires. The dam is a half-sister to a fairly useful handicap hurdler and Champion Hurdle runner-up Westender appears on the damline at 3/3. Alan King’s strike rate with newcomers is 29.22%, which increases to 32.99% with flat recruits rated 62 or above. The fact that The Cincinnati Kid is still an entire does raise concerns, but otherwise, his form is respectable and his profile is a solid one.

    Eventful bf Suzi Best f11-0-6 (67) 76
    Oasis Dream (Dalakhani){14-c}(0.78) 2/1 Extreme Impact 1st Handicap Hurdle (115), Haydock 2014
    Juvenile hurdlers sourced from GB or Irish claimers have a winners to runners rate of just 12.5%, and only Maoi Chinn Tire achieved an RPR of 120 or above. Eventful left Mick Quinn for £11,000 after finishing second to Treaty Of Dingle, subsequently twice placed in this sphere, in a Lingfield claimer in late August. Though a maiden after eleven starts, the former Juddmonte filly has rarely been disgraced in handicap company at marks around the low-mid seventies. Furthermore, the yards of Jim, and then Suzi Best has a winners to runners rate of 55.55% in the sphere since 2008/09. Eventful’s dam is a half-sister to Workforce, and more pertinently, a winning handicap hurdler. Other relatives on the damline include Brian Boru (3/1), Cinders And Ashes (3/2), and Minella Rocco (4/2). Oasis Dream’s record in the division makes for much less impressive reading as only two of his twenty-five juvenile hurdlers have been winners, and the overall strike rate is just 2.94%. There are positives in the profile, but the negatives are heavy burdens at this juncture.

    Strong prospects
    1. The Cincinnati Kid
    Reasonable prospects
    2. Grouseman
    3. Hacker des Places
    Feasible prospects
    4. Tamaris
    5. Jersey Grey
    Moderate prospects
    6. Nachtstern
    7. Eventful
    8. Jack Ryan
    Negligible prospects
    9. Can’t Stop Now

    • Total Posts 8816

    Great stuff this BH

    Bachelors Hall
    • Total Posts 1463

    Cheers Cormack :)

    Apologies for missing the preview for yesterday’s race at Limerick, particularly as it looked pretty obvious at first glance. I wish I could say it was due to my attending a more noble matter but it was not. There are several reviews that are due ahead of what could be another exciting weekend in the division with the likes of Paros, Hiconic, Megan, Ha d’Or and Damage Control holding entries. Hopefully the backlog can be resolved before any damage control necessitates the same fate met by most boys who compete in this sphere…

    Tomorrow’s contest at Market Rasen has been a fairly consistent fixture, having been held nine times in the past eleven seasons. The first two in the 2018 renewal, Adjali and King d’Argent, would finish seventh in the Triumph and fourth in the Fred Winter respectively, while Pain Au Chocolat, Wolfcatcher and Lord Lamington are other fair sorts who were introduced in this contest. This year’s edition looks unlikely to produce anything similarly compelling as the newcomers look substandard and those with hurdling experience have been disappointing. Market Rasen’s winning DIs are essentially average for Great Britain and Ireland and the same can be said for its clear round rate of 96.29%. The going is currently good to soft, good in places with light rain forecast for tomorrow.

    Shentri bg Dan Skelton c2-1-0 h5-1-2 (125) 112 74
    Sri Purta (Zaar){6-d}(1.13) 3/1 Shantarini 2nd December Festival Hurdle, Leopardstown 1998
    François-Marie Cottin has supplied this division with the likes of Sanctuaire, Solar Impulse and Azza in recent years and while his cousin, former French champion jockey David, is fairly new to the game, he provided Paul Nicholls with a winner in Oleg two seasons ago. His latest export Shentri won two of his six starts in France, 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%. Shentri’s UK debut came eighteen days ago at Fontwell where he finished second behind Nassalam, albeit by fifty-nine lengths. 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 125, reduced from 130, looks steep, it will be worth seeing how he fares without the likes of Nassalam in opposition. Dan Skelton has two winners from thirteen at Market Rasen and sent King d’Argent to finish second in the contest in 2018. His charges are generally adept at doing themselves justice first time out, but if Shentri can produce a fraction of his French form, he would have a leading chance in this company even with a penalty.

    Asharann bg Oliver Greenall f6-1-1 FrF (83) 73 j2-0-0 (-) 73 74
    Zoffany (Linamix){16-a}(0.87) 0.5 Ashutor 1st Handicap Chase (132), Fontwell 2020
    Initially rated 39.0 (BHA 88) on the flat in France, Asharann’s tendency to pull in his races and a regression in his form saw him drop to 36.5 (BHA 83) before leaving the yard of Jean-Claude Rouget for €9,000. He was easy to back ahead of his hurdles debut at Huntingdon where he finished tailed off. His jumping was reasonable but he never travelled easily and while badly hampered at the fourth, it was not instrumental in his defeat. He was next seen at Ludlow where he travelled better but was readily outpaced turning for home and was allowed to come home in his own time. His bare form from those two outings was nothing to get excited about but there have been signs of ability. While his flat form, his jumping and his improvement in settling could potentially make him competitive in a race of this nature, he may be better suited to a handicap mark.

    Fiscal Prudence bg Harry Whittington f2-0-0 (-) 70 j1-0-0 (-) 63 60
    Fracas (Leroidesanimaux){8-i}(0.86) 2/2 Morga 2nd Handicap Hurdle (A,130), Fairyhouse 2016
    Fiscal Prudence ran with some promise in two maidens at the Curragh for Jim Bolger as a two-year-old, including when midfield in a race won by Mogul. Sire Fracas has two winning juveniles from five and the damline contains several winners at an ordinary level so the pedigree is respectable. He has since joined a yard with a very good record in the sphere and already has a winner this term in See The Eagle Fly. However, he was remarkably fresh in the early stages of his debut at Warwick and was lit up further by the drama over the first two hurdles. Pulling harder than any juvenile seen this season, he began to lose touch with the leaders after the fourth before being allowed to come home in his own time. His jumping was compromised by his keenness but he was not completely novicey. A first time hood is to be applied and he should have had some of the freshness ran out of him for his first run in over a year. Harry Whittington has a winner and a second from his two juveniles at Market Rasen but he has not been in the winners’ enclosure for three weeks and his recent juveniles have been disappointing. There is enough in the profile to warrant some respect, although he has questions to answer from his debut outing and the yard could be in better form.

    Park Lane Dancer brg John Quinn f6-0-0 (52) 57 j2-0-1 (-) 82 90
    Elzaam (Iffraaj){8-f}(1.18) 3/1 Wise Words 2nd 4YO Hurdle, Roscommon 2003
    Park Lane Dancer failed to place in six outings on the flat and his official mark in that sphere gives him upwards of a stone to find with several rivals. He has essentially matched his flat form over hurdles when third at Sedgefield in a poor contest, and seventh at Musselburgh in a moderate one. His jumping was better at Sedgefield but there was no major regression in his form and the standard, poor though it is, does not immediately rule him out here. John Quinn ended his hurdles drought last week and he has a 25% strike rate with juveniles at this venue. Furthermore, four of his six juveniles rated below 60 on the flat have been winners and they generally improve with each outing. Several of these rivals have the potential to completely outclass him, but until that potential is realised, Park Lane Dancer’s chances are not negligible and he has few questions to answer.

    Shalott bg Gary Brown b2-0-1 88
    Camelot (Nashwan){1-k}(0.70) 2/1 Priors Dale 1st Novice Handicap Chase (137), Wincanton 2007
    Initially trained by Joseph O’Brien, Shalott left Owning Hill without seeing a racecourse. Though initially entered in juvenile hurdles, he would begin his career in junior bumpers where he finished a thirty-six length fifth at Huntingdon before returning to the venue to finish a two length third. Assessing the level of that form is an unenviable task given that there have been very few lines in which it can be tied. The overall strike rate for ex-bumper horses in juvenile hurdles is 3.52% and this drops to 2.86% for those making their hurdles debut. This rate increases to 3.89% for those who attained RPRs in the 80-94 band but that is still low enough. Shalott ran as though a trip would suit and this would also be reflected in his pedigree. Sire Camelot has a respectable record of six winners from twenty-four runners in the sphere, half-brother Mustamad won over fences and the dam is a half-sister to the useful jumper Priors Dale. Two of Gary Brown’s five charges in the sphere have been winners, although the last time he had such runner was in the 2013 Fred Winter. Shalott would not have the worst profile in the division, but others have more substantial profiles.

    Sure I’m Your Man bg Jennie Candlish f6-0-0 (55) 64 j2-0-1 (-) 89 102
    Sea The Moon (Dalakhani){9-c}(0.33) 2/1 Tugboat 1st Novice Hurdle, Galway 2012
    No better than a fair maiden on the flat for Roger Charlton, Sure I’m Your Man’s first run after a break and a wind operation for his new yard saw him well beaten at Newcastle. Being by Sea The Moon and related to Tugboat (2/1) and Rigidity (3/3) he has a respectable pedigree for the discipline and he attracted a fair amount of support in the betting prior to his hurdling debut at Bangor. 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. Finishing an eight length third, it was a satisfactory debut and he was sent off favourite for a maiden at Leicester on Sunday. However, his flash of reticence at Bangor was more pronounced over his early jumps and during the back stretch, he steadily dropped from a prominent position to being detached before the turn for home. Pulled up before the last, he reportedly bled through the nose which makes his quick reappearance rather confusing. He is unexposed, bred to develop with age and his Bangor performance is the best domestic form on offer. However, while bleeding is not uncommon and its treatments fairly straightforward (usually surgery, rest, dietary supplements, changing to dust-free shavings, illegal drugs), nothing garnered from a five minute crash course on the matter of EIPH suggests that four days would be ample time for recovery.

    Yulong Magicreef bg Jonjo O’Neill f5-0-1 (78) 73 j1-0-0 (-) 68 69
    Fastnet Rock (Zamindar){13-c}(2.64) 3/1 Cape Express 1st Handicap Hurdle (125), Aintree 2012
    Yulong Magicreef rubbed shoulders with classic winners on his racecourse debut for Jessica Harrington and was far from disgraced in that exalted company. However, his subsequent outings got progressively worse and he was last seen on the flat tailed off back in August. His hurdling debut came in a Wetherby maiden last week and though he was a best priced 8/1 in the morning, he drifted out throughout the day and was sent off at 20/1. While he was big over the first and steadied going into the fourth, there was not much to criticise about his jumping. Nevertheless, the distress signals were out before they got to the last in the back straight and he was eventually beaten by fifty lengths. There is not a great deal in his pedigree to suggest he will excel in the division, but as he is with a solid yard, better could have been expected. Yulong Magicreef would still be respected in this company on the best of his flat form, but he has ran well below his best on his last three outings and even the booking of Richard Johnson does not significantly improve his profile.

    Carriesmatic bf Peter Niven f12-0-2 (47) 58
    Passing Glance (Zamindar){9-e}(1.25) 4/2 Nearby 1st Elite Hurdle (L,145), Wincanton 2010
    Peter Niven has not saddled a juvenile hurdler since January 2013 and has no winners from five since 2008/09. His juveniles do have a tendency to improve on their flat ratings for the switch between codes, although this would be crucial to Carriesmatic who was rated just 47 after twelve starts on the flat. For all but her last three races, she was with David Barron who has provided the sphere with three winners from eleven runners. Carriesmatic’s latest third in a Redcar claimer a month ago was her best performance in a while and there would be few concerns over the trip on that performance. Passing Glance has a 44.44% winners to runners rate in the sphere along with a 83.33% improvement rate. The damline lacks immediate jumpers although Elite Hurdle winner Nearby appears at 4/2. Carriesmatic has plenty to find on all known form, but there are enough elements in her profile to suggest she can at least carry her flat ability over hurdles.

    Volkovka bf Fergal O’Brien f5-1-2 FrF (81.4) 59 j2-0-0 (-) 95 94
    Camelot (Anabaa){2-i}(0.71) 1/0 Drole de Dame 2nd 4YO Hurdle, Lyon Parilly 2011
    Three of Fergal O’Brien’s five juvenile hurdlers this term have been placed, although Volkovka is absent from that list despite being sent off as favourite on her hurdling debut at Fakenham. While her last start for Simone Brogi came in a claimer, after which she was bought for €22,500, Volkovka’s equivalent rating in the low 80s looked reasonable. Furthermore, being a daughter of Camelot and closely related to several winning jumpers in France gave her feasible prospects for the discipline. However, her chances at Fakenham were compromised early on with some very poor jumping and finished by her hanging right. She reappeared at Leicester two weeks ago and managed to complete the course, but not without some novicey jumping and a pair of bad blunders at the sixth and the last. At the time of her latter error, the race was already completely out of her range and she was in contention only for third place. Nevertheless, with her sex allowance, that performance would still give her a strong chance in this company, although there is a danger that she might be getting soured by the jumping aspects of the game.

    Strong prospects
    1. Park Lane Dancer
    Reasonable prospects
    2. Shentri
    3. Volkovka
    Feasible prospects
    4. Shalott
    5. Fiscal Prudence
    Moderate prospects
    6. Asharann
    7. Yulong Magicreef
    Negligible prospects
    8. Carriesmatic
    9. Sure I’m Your Man

    Bachelors Hall
    • Total Posts 1463

    While many of my contributions to this thread may fall short of resembling academic standard, my input has taken an academic shape in recent days. A ghastly writer’s block has prevented any of the due reviews extending beyond the words “Son Of Red” and left these upcoming previews very much in the lurch. Nevertheless, given that both of these contests have been hotly anticipated since the middle of Summer, the previews have taken on the most academic of forms of starting from scratch and necessitating an all-nighter under the ethos of “Anything. Just write anything and submit the wretched thing. Whatever the result, it will have to do.” Mercifully, there will be a break of ten days from the 16th onwards which is like a deadline extension for the reviews which have yet to be completed (started). While the extension has a cushion built in, time will tell if those reviews are also posted at the last possible moment. In any case, the previews are here and as I have already forgotten everything I have written and am in a thousand yard stare stupor, the quality of same can only be taken as is…

    Sandown’s Tingle Creek card has always featured a juvenile hurdle, and when today’s feature was inaugurated in 1980, the three-year-old contest carried a more substantial purse than both that and the Henry VIII Chase. The contest subsequently lost its significance although by adopting the introductory label in 2016, has experienced a renaissance with last year’s winner Goshen bringing the race to a new level. This year’s renewal revolves around Nicky Henderson newcomer Paros who led the Triumph Hurdle markets through the summer prior to the establishment of Ireland’s crop. However, it is not the kindest introduction as Gary Moore fields a pair of interesting imports, the two with hurdles experience have place form which ties into Paul Nicholls’ winners and the flat newcomers bring ratings in the low seventies. Conditions at Sandown have been enough to see Altior’s withdrawal and the winning DIs of 0.93 median, 1.19 mean indicate that it is a testing track at the best of times. The course’s clear round rate of 97.53% makes it one of the more forgiving in the country, although with only 55% of odds-on favourites winning, it is not one which rewards complacency.

    Paros chg Nicky Henderson j1-1-0 (-) 119
    Masterstroke (Green Tune){16-c}(0.60) 2/1 Softsong 3rd Handicap Hurdle (L,121), Sandown 2012
    Paros was sent off as favourite ahead of his debut in an ordinary conditions hurdle at Dieppe in May.
    Leading soon after the start, his early jumping lacked some confidence but it gradually improved throughout and by the straight, he was jumping nicely. The last off the bridle, he only needed hands and heels to but upwards of two lengths between himself and his rivals. Runner-up Jeu de Paume has given the form credibility with a subsequent win at Clairefontaine, and three places in pattern company including when half a length behind top juvenile Theleme while giving him four pounds. Third placed Hacker des Places won next time at Dax and though he was fairly disappointing on his UK debut, the remainder of the field were another three lengths behind. Trainer Gabriel Leenders has yet to send any significant juveniles to the UK but he did recently collect his first Grade One in the Prix Ferdinand Dufaure. Masterstroke, who this year joined Yorton Farm Stud after standing in France, is a Monsun stallion out of a half-sister to Galileo. He has yet to have a UK/IRE jumps winner from his first three crops but does have a 33% winners to runners rate with his French jumpers including Prix Congress runner-up Hades, and useful three-year-old of 2018, Floridee. Green Tune, another stout influence, is also the damsire of L’Unique. The damline is not short of decent jumps horses with National Spirit winner Prospect Wells and Brooklyn’s Gold showing as 4/2 along with Authorized who is a fantastic sire of juveniles. Nicky Henderson is one of the very best trainers of juvenile hurdles and is already on the board this season with Overpriced Mixer. Since Soldatino won the Triumph in 2010, he has had five Grade One winning juveniles from French hurdle imports alone and his first time out strike rate is 61.29% with such horses.

    Elham Valley grg Fergal O’Brien f9-2-0 (74) 76
    Tin Horse (Peintre Celebre){1-p}(1.33) 2/2 Gardens Of Babylon 3rd Triumph Hurdle (G1), Cheltenham 2019
    A dual winner on the flat for Andrew Balding, Elham Valley left Kingsclere after winning a seller at Goodwood by thirteen lengths. Though he did not attract any bids afterwards, he still changed ownership and would run twice run for John Gallagher, finishing well held in a pair of soft ground handicaps off 78 and 75. Following a date with a pair of scissors, he joined a Fergal O’Brien yard which has enjoyed a fine season with its juveniles, including winners Naizagai and Volkovka. Tin Horse has yet to produce a winning juvenile in the UK or Ireland, but he has a solid 35.71% winners to runners rate in France including this season’s dual winner Horse Maha. Peintre Celebre is an above average damsire in the division and Elham Valley is a cousin of Triumph Hurdle third Gardens Of Babylon. In an ordinary contest, Elham Valley’s profile would warrant consideration despite his recent flat disappointments. However, this could potentially be a quality affair and the forecast conditions look unsuitable.

    Hudson de Grugy bg Gary Moore FrB 4-1-1
    Falco (April Night){u}(3.44) 2/1 Rose de Grugy 2nd Grand Prix de la Ville de Nice (G3), Cagne-Sur-Mer 2013
    Juvenile hurdlers imported from French bumpers typically do well in the division. Thirty of the sixty-five since 2008/09 have been winners including the likes of Defi du Seuil, Espoir d’Allen and French Made. While they have a clear round rate of just 87.69%, their first time out strike rate of 26.15% is still well above average. Hudson de Grugy ran four times in such races, finishing unplaced on his first two outings, snatching second behind subsequent Grade 3 winner Hallatienne at Les Sables d’Olonne, before making all for a facile win at Le Gacilly in July. Although the form of that win is much of a muchness, the runner-up on that occasion did win next time out. He since left Adrien Fouassier to join a Gary Moore yard with a very respectable record both in the sphere and in this contest. With his last ten runners in this race, he has saddled three winners including Sussex Ranger, who won by fourteen lengths before finishing second in the Finale Hurdle, and Goshen who had the Triumph Hurdle at his mercy before a freak unshipping at the last. Hudson de Grugy’s most notable relative is the yard’s top chaser Sire de Grugy who appears at 3/2 on the damline. However, that is not the only winner in the family as half-brother Django de Grugy won a chase, the dam has three winning siblings, the third dam won three cross country chases while champion of the late eighties Oteuil (5/1) and 1997 Prix Jean Stern winner French Kankan (5/2) appear further back. Sire Falco has had three winning juveniles from eight including Triumph winner Peace And Co, and Gary Moore’s dual winner Aiguille Rouge. Gary Moore is set to saddle two runners here but while the stablemate has respectable flat form. Hudson de Grugy is reported to have schooled the better of the pair. The profile entitles him to plenty of respect, although the fact that his worst run in bumpers came on heavy ground is a concern.

    Masterdream bg Tim Vaughan f4-0-0 (73) 70
    Sea The Stars (Danehill Dancer){20}(1.40) 3/1 Vasco Marengo 1st 4yo Maiden Hurdle, Fontainebleau 2009
    Between 2008 and 2013, Tim Vaughan’s strike rate in the division never went below 16.67%, but the past five seasons have seen him net just one win. Masterdream, a 56,000 guineas purchase out of the John Oxx yard, will begin this juvenile campaign for the yard. Making his debut in August, he ran four times in maiden company, all over twelve furlongs on soft to heavy ground. Though he never finished closer than fifth, he finished within seven lengths of the winner on each occasion and while his mark of 73 perhaps exceeds his achievements, based on those he finished nearby, the rating is feasible. Former inmates of the recently retired John Oxx have a winners to runners rate of 29.03% and have included the likes of Barizan, Mourad and Alaivan. That quality dried up in recent years but he was still the source of winner Gealach last season. Sea The Stars (Starchitect, Stars Over The Sea, Park Paddocks) has a solid record in the division, although Danehill Dancer is slightly below average in terms of winners and the damline has very few jumpers. Ground and stamina should not be issues, but there are others with more substantial profiles and the stable is not enjoying a great spell at the moment.

    Phoenix Aquilus bg Seamus Durack f4-0-2 (69) 71 j1-0-1 (-) 93 112
    Slade Power (Ad Valorem){31}(1.50) 2/1 Tiger Roll 1st Triumph Hurdle (G1), Cheltenham 2014
    Phoenix Aquilus failed to win in four starts on the flat, but his finishing midfield in a Kempton handicap was fair form and he seems straightforward enough. Slade Power has won as a sire in the division and the damline includes Tiger Roll (2/1), Khachaturian (3/1) and On Air (3/0. Furthermore, Seamus Durack has a respectable record with limited ammunition so a good debut effort at Chepstow was not unexpected. Settled in the rear, his jumping was compromised by some bunching early on but he was clean when finding more room and made good headway throughout. While he was never going to threaten the impressive winner, he was best of the remainder and led home a pair of horses who already had respectable form in the division. The form has subsequently been let down on numerous occasions and while Hell Red had excuses next time, and fifth placed Jersey Grey won a weak contest at Lingfield, the remainder have ran below par. Nevertheless, it was a fine effort from a debutant, particularly one with his anatomy still in tact, and if he improves for the gelding operation, an ordinary race could be within his scope. However, while there may also be improvement for soft ground, this is not an ordinary race.

    Royaume Uni bbg Gary Moore f3-1-0 FrF 36 (79.2) 75
    Galileo (Lagunas){4-r}(0.58) 1/2 Nordano 3rd Finale Juvenile Hurdle (G1), Chepstow 2019
    Since the 2008/09 season, Andre Fabre has been the source of twenty-nine juvenile hurdlers in the UK and Ireland. Twelve of those won during their first season over obstacles but while half of them were rated at least 85 on the flat, that class largely fails to translate with Fred Winter placed duo Alexander Severus and Saticon the most successful of such types. In a similar vein, while Galileo is the outstanding flat sire of his generation, and he does get the occasional good juvenile, his overall record is decidedly average and only 31.37% of his progeny will improve for the switch to hurdles. Royaume Uni is an ex-Andre Fabre trained son of Galileo who won the second of his three starts in France at Angers back in June before being beaten nearly six lengths in a winners’ race at Saint Cloud the same month. The Angers race has yet to produce any winners, although the runner-up, Night And Day, was second next time in a Clairefontaine handicap off 70.4 and has since joined Willie Mullins. The Saint-Cloud contest has worked out better as the winner was since third in a Listed race at the same track, and runner-up Litigator won a Clairefontaine handicap before finishing sixth in the Group 3 Darley Stakes at Newmarket. From the family of Novelist and Nordano, Royaume Uni should have no problems with the ground and trip as his win came on soft ground over an extended fourteen furlongs. Nevertheless, his not schooling as well as his stablemate has been mentioned, and the yard’s imports from the French flat generally improve for their debut outing.

    The Worthy Brat bg Jeremy Scott b1-1-0 (-) 101 j1-0-1 (-) 108 111
    Worthadd (Alhaarth){20-d}(1.32) 2/1 Penric 1st Novices’ Handicap Hurdle (86), Hereford 2005
    The Worthy Brat ran very green when winning a bumper at Exeter, but he benefitted from that experience and put up an improved performance to run into third on his hurdles bow at the same venue behind Monmiral. 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 soft ground well enough and he was entitled to do so on breeding as his sire and siblings had form on soft. It was a satisfactory hurdling debut and with more assured jumping, he can be competitive in a lesser race than this.

    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
    Racecourse debutants from the yards of Nick and Jane Williams have been a regular feature of the current campaign. While none of the six have won a race this season, three were able to finish second on their debuts, namely Balko Saint – who later finished third in the Prestbury Hurdle, Admiral Balko who was second at Bangor, and Honneur d’Ajonc who finished ahead of The Worthy Brat at Exeter. Yggdrasil has yet to see a racecourse, but his pedigree 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 Nick Williams yard at Sandown in juveniles is a second and two thirds from seven runners and the stable is in reasonable form at the moment. Yggdrasil has an intriguing profile, although he would have to be very good to win this at the first time of asking.

    Strong prospects
    1. Paros
    Reasonable prospects
    2. Hudson de Grugy
    Feasible prospects
    3. Phoenix Aquilus
    4. Yggdrasil
    5. Royaume Uni
    Moderate prospects
    6. The Worthy Brat
    7. Elham Valley
    Negligible prospects
    8. Masterdream

    Today marks the ninth edition of the fillies’ juvenile at Aintree and it is a contest fully worthy of its place on the calendar. Since the season of its inception, thirteen of the top twenty fillies in the division made their debuts on or prior to the first weekend of December. Of those thirteen, nine took in Aintree’s contest which is sound evidence of its serving its purpose. Four of these participants went on to place in open sexed pattern company;- L’Unique (2012) won that season’s Anniversary Hurdle, Jer’s Girl (2015) won the all aged Champion at the Punchestown Festival, Evening Hush (2016) finished second in the Finale and Grey Waters (2017) was third in the Spring Juvenile. These successes demonstrate the race’s potential quality while simulataneously drawing attention to the difficulties faced by fillies attempting to collect black type in the division when compared to their predominantly gelded counterparts. The listed race at Doncaster in January is perhaps questionable in its positioning and having the only fillies’ Grade Three in the division being a handicap is bizarre. Nevertheless, Aintree’s contest is a very sensible institution and while it is very easy to criticise the BHA for their many exasperatively farcical actions, they occasionally get something right and for this race, credit is due. This year’s renewal has been the target for many of its declared runners and has attracted the best the division has to offer thus far. Hiconic, Megan, Talking About You and Scholastic have achieved the highest ratings for the phallus-free sex while newcomers Army Of One and Her Indoors have had this race earmaked for trainers who have won the contest five times between them. Aintree’s winning DIs of 1.00 median and 1.13 mean are in Great Britain’s lowest ten and the completion rate of 81.68% illustrates how testing it can get despite the flat nature. The going is currently soft with a patch of good to soft at the distance and as the contest will be the third hurdles race on the card, stamina will be an utmost premium. The clear round rate of 95.60% is also lower than average so mistakes will not be inexpensive.

    Army Of One bf Gavin Cromwell f5-0-1 DeF GAG 63.5 (47) 67
    Kingston Hill (Authorized){2-n}(0.50) 2/1 Aberwind 3rd Handicap Hurdle (122), Compiegne 2020
    Now We’re Touring has not given Kingston Hill a flying start as a jumps sire. Nevertheless, being a St Leger winning Mastercraftsman out of a half-sister to Lord Jim, Kingston Hill has the right attributes to be a force in the division and it is no surprise that he stands at Castle Hyde Stud. That Army Of One is out of an Authorized mare also makes her an intriguing hurdles recruit. Army Of One’s best placing in five starts in Germany was a tight second in a Dresden maiden back in June. However, getting a grasp on the form’s value is not entirely straightforward. For example, the winner of the Dresden race was given a GAG of 65 (50), but was raised to 84.5 (89) after finishing fourth in a Listed race next time. The fourth placed horse was initially rated 62.5 (45), dropped to 60.5 (41) but won a €37,000 auction race and is now on 71.5 (63). In any event, that Dresden maiden has produced winners which is less true in the Hoppegarten handicap where Army Of One finished fifth when last seen in August. By comparison, Megan’s GAG of 77 equates to a BHA mark of 74, although her RPR of 90 is much more in keeping with her form on a collateral level with pattern class European horses. Given that Army Of One achieved an RPR of 67, it may be more prudent to use this as a guide which itself, would still leave her short at this level. Nevertheless, while she has ran fairly green in her races, she looks honest enough and is bred to go in this ground. Stefan Richter’s only other import thus far was Kobra who disappointed behind Megan at Leicester. Gavin Cromwell has yet to have a German import run in juveniles but his record in the division is solid with a 25.58% winners to runners rate an improvement rate of 69.23%. His record in this contest is also laudible with two winners and a third from three attempts and Army Of One will be the sole charge running at Aintree today. The compelling sirelines are bolstered by the presence of capable jumpers on the damline including Aberwind at 2/1, Aramon and Aramax, winners of the Galway Hurdle and Fred Winter respectively at 4/2, and useful French juvenile King’s Socks at 4/3. There is plenty to like about Army Of One’s profile, although her flat form is difficult to quantify and this is a tough race for an introduction.

    Bellatrixsa grf Venetia Williams f5-1-3 (77) 81
    Gregorian (Kalanisi){5-h}(0.71) 0.5 Daybreak Boy 1st Conditions Hurdle, Clonmel 2019
    Fetching 80,000 guineas at the Tattersalls Autumn sale, Bellatrixsa is the division’s third most expensive horse publicly sold in-training thus far. Making her debut in July, she finished midfield in a Haydock novice stakes before reaching the frame on her next four outings over distances between ten furlongs and two miles. Her last run for Michael Dods came as a three-and-a-quarter length win in a Newcastle handicap in October off a mark of 72. Setting off in front, she was headed halfway through the contest but would stay prominent and regained the lead at the distance before pulling clear of her rivals. The form has since been boosted with the third winning next time over course and distance. Michael Dods is a solid source of juvenile hurdlers and his graduates boast a healthy winners to runners rate of 27.78% including Spring Juvenile runner-up Shadow Catcher who fetched 40,000 guineas at the same sale in 2011. Venetia Williams also has a decent winners to runners rate of 23.81% although she is without a winner in the division since March 2015 and the improvement rates of both trainers is below average. Gregorian is without a winner from five juveniles but Magna Moralia, the only progeny rated over 60, has been placed and none have failed to complete a race. Kalanisi has not enjoyed a great deal of success as a damsire but Bellatrixsa is a half-sister to the useful Daybreak Boy and out of a half-sister to Glorious Sinndar who won over hurdles in Australia. Stamina and ability to handle the ground should not be issues and the flat form is of a good standard for this contest. The trainer has not been prolific in the division recently and while her yard is otherwise in decent form, a first-time-out rate healthier than 7.14% would be more encouraging for Bellatrixsa in this company.

    Her Indoors bf Alan King 6-1-2 (76) 80
    Raven’s Pass (Zafonic){22-d}(2.60) 2/2 Next Round 1st Prix Predicateur (L,126), Auteuil 2014
    On the 21st of June, the McNeill family indicated on Twitter that Her Indoors would be targeted at this very contest. At that stage, she had yet to run as a three-year-old and had only a debut second at Lingfield and a ninth of nine at Salisbury from the previous season to her name. Her return came the following month at Windsor with a nine length fourth and the month afterwards, she was unlucky not to finish closer on her handicap debut at Kempton. Her duck was broken on the fifth attempt in September when she took a good ground Lingfield handicap off 70 over a distance just shy of twelve furlongs. She was a length and a quarter clear of the remainder, the third was runner up next time while the fifth subsequently scored off a pound lower. This improvement was confirmed beaten just under a length when second at Chelmsford off a four pound higher mark. Alan King is one of the leading trainers in the division and his record in this race is very strong with three winners, two seconds and a third from eight runners. As such, it is fascinating that Her Indoors would be his representative for a race which has long been the target. Her flat form is also up to scratch in this field but her profile is not without concerns. There are mild reservations insofar as her attitude is concerned as she requires being mounted away from the other runners and though it did not prevent her from winning, her head carriage is rather suspect. The best form has been on good ground and the pace in her races did not prove her stamina so her ability to stay the trip in these conditions is far from assured. Sire Raven’s Pass does get winners in the sphere but he is not the strongest represented here and while the damline features useful types in Next Round (2/2), Zig Zag (3/2) and Carlito Brigante (5/4), neither of Her Indoors’ siblings achieved much over jumps in six combined starts.

    Hiconic bf Alex Hales f8-0-3 (58) 60 j6-4-2 (128) 115 124
    Sixties Icon (Acclamation){1-n}(0.60) 1/0 Hi Note 2nd 4YO Hurdle, Cheltenham 2012
    In the review of Hiconic’s win at Bangor back in July, it was suggested that “with the proliferation of pattern class juvenile and novice hurdles for fillies, it would not be completely absurd to imagine that Hiconic could collect some black type this season.” As it transpired, she would actually collect that black type when second in the Wensleydale Hurdle behind Duffle Coat when last seen at the end of October. Nevertheless, five months later and the Fillies’ Juvenile is upon Hiconic. Given that she won the first race of the season, was the leading juvenile of the summer and has yet to be matched by fellow filly, there would be little to add to the near three thousand words she had already demanded. Professional in her manner of jumping when taking her first three races at Newton Abbot, Bangor and Stratford, she was less convincing when taking race four on her return to Newton Abbot. That hint of recalcitrance at the latter venue manifested both at Lingfield where she failed to justify favouritism in a handicap and at Market Rasen where she veered at the start and lacked her usual fluency when beaten twelve lengths by Soldier On Parade. However, she posted a career best when next seen at Wetherby when collecting her black type sooner than anticipated. Sent straight into the lead and ridden into the first flight, she quickly settled into a rhythm reminiscent of her halcyon days. The pace she set was enough to have the remainder of the field in trouble entering the straight and at one time, she traded as low as 1.37 in running. There were no traces of her waywardness and up to the final flight, put in her best round of jumping to date. She was already headed when she clipped, and was slowly away from, the last, but she still had enough to fend off the third and it was a over four lengths further back to some useful types. It has been a case of ‘jusqu’ici tout va bien for the Wensleydale form as the winner followed up in a Grade 2 at Cheltenham, the third posted a comparable effort in the same race, and the fifth scored next time over course and distance. On proven form, Hiconic sets the standard comfortable and will not be burdened with any penalties for her accomplishments. Furthermore, the yard is in decent form as while just one of its eleven runners in the past fortnight have been winners, six were able to run into a place. Insofar as weakness in Hiconic’s profile are concerned, given that she has already raced six times over hurdles, she would have less scope for improvement than some of these. However, that also appeared to be the case prior to her run at Wetherby where she posted a new career best. A more appreciable concern would be that this will be softest ground encountered by Hiconic and her pedigree does not immediately suggest that this will not be a problem. Her dam Hi Note, a useful juvenile in her own right, won twice on good to firm and sire Sixties Icon also enjoyed more success on a sounder surface. He does get winners on heavy, including recent listed winner Buildmeupbuttercup, and Hiconic had no problems with the good to soft at Wetherby. It may be the case that Hiconic improves with more give in the ground, but until she proves same then that doubt remains. Nevertheless, she is still a horse with demonstrably sufficient aptitude who sets the standard and if she does handle conditions then it will take a useful one to beat her.

    High Moor Flyer bf Jedd O’Keeffe f4-0-0 (42) 39 j1-0-1 (-) 102 103
    Pour Moi (Johann Quatz){4-r}(0.40) 1/0 A Media Luz 1st Chatteris Fen Juvenile Hurdle, Huntingdon 2011
    Flattered by an official rating of 42 following four runs on the flat, High Moor Flyer’s chances at Leicester were further tempered by her sweating up prior to the contest and burning 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 and though it was an encouraging introduction, there is no reason why should reverse placings with the impressive winner.

    Lightning Blue bf Tom Gretton f9-0-0 (46) 47 j1-0-0 (-) 63 75
    Harbour Watch (Fantastic Light){16}(2.50) 2/1 Blue Leader 1st Selling Hurdle, Hereford 2005
    Leaving Mick Channon with a rating of 47, Lightning Blue was beaten nearly nine lengths off that mark on her stable debut at Lingfield in September. By a sire with a fair record in the division and out of a sister to a moderate winner, she outran her 200/1 starting price when fourth, albeit by thirty-five lengths, on her hurdling introduction at Wetherby. Lightning Blue lacked concentration in her jumping which led to a few mistakes and while she would not be readily dismissed in a moderate race, she looks completely out of her depth here.

    Megan chf Stuart Edmunds f6-1-1 Def GAG (74) 90 j1-1-0 (-) 117 116
    Lord Of England (King’s Best){22-c}(0.82) 0.5 Mahe King, 1st Juvenile Hurdle, Italy 2018 (7th Listed) (2nd Auction Race) (1st Maiden)
    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. She was quietly fancied ahead of her hurdles debut at Leicester and announced herself with a compelling performance. 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, although the fifth placed Volkovka since gave the form a boost with a win at Market Rasen earlier in the week. A half-sister to a winning juvenile in Italy, her sire is now three winners from five runners in the division. Trainer Stuart Edmunds boasts the best winners to runners ratio of any trainer with ten or more juveniles since 2008/09 and his sole runner at Aintree was third in the 2017 edition of this race. Though there are doubts over the quality of her debut win, Megan could hardly have won the race in a more taking fashion. The winning time affords her performance some substance and that it came on soft ground bodes well for her here. With improvement anticipated for the experience, she is entitled to respect in this field.

    Sarceaux grf Alexandra Dunn f3-1-0 FrF 30.5 (67.1) 62
    Rajsaman (Elusive City){16-g}(0.67) 0.5 Saint Contest 3rd Juvenile Hurdle, Newbury 2016
    Five of the sixteen Mikel Delzangles exports have been winners in this division, including 2012 Fred Winter runner-up Edeymi. While four of his former inmates fetched upwards of €100,000 at the Arqana sales, Sarceaux left the yard for just €16,016 following a claimer at Dieppe back in July. Finishing fourth on that occasion, the form has not been particularly well advertised and the runner-up, Highlander Madrik may be a familiar name as he was tailed off behind Talking About You at Fontwell in September. Sarceaux did win on her penultimate start at Le Croise Laroche and the form has a better shape to it as the runner-up won next time while the third has since won four times and is currently rated 80. She did not look the most determined on that occasion and it should be noted that though her win came on good, her defeat last time was on soft ground. Rajsaman scored in the sphere at the third attempt with stablemate Jersey Grey and half-brother Saint Contest had fair placed form as a juvenile hurdler. Sarceaux does not have the worst profile, but horses bought through French claimers win less than their fair share and others in this field have stronger cases.

    Scholastic bf Joseph Patrick O’Brien f12-3-1 (72) 75 j5-1-3 (-) 113 109
    Zoffany (Sadler’s Wells){5-b}(0.63) 1/1 Severus Alexander 4th Handicap Hurdle (102), Leopardstown 2020
    An old friend of this thread, three time flat winner Scholastic’s first steps in the division were vengeful and erratic as she wiped out half of her rivals while running loose at Down Royal. Nevertheless, in her four subsequent outings, only Duffle Coat, Crassus, Longclaw and Quilixios finished ahead of her. Her penultimate outing in a Punchestown maiden saw her collect a deserved six-and-a-half length win from subsequent winners Jeff Kidder, Rock Chica and Varna Gold, and thrice placed Bigz Belief. Her jumping had progressed from her debut and was immaculate at Punchestown, but while it was still decent on her latest start, some mistakes crept into her round. She has not been seen over hurdles since being outclassed by Quilixios on the 13th of October and was last seen five days later when a close third in a Naas handicap, posting a career best in that sphere. Joseph O’Brien has a very respectable record in the discipline although while he has enjoyed success this side of the Irish Sea, including winning the Fred Winter with Band Of Outlaws, his tally with raiding juveniles is two from nineteen. Scholastic is still Ireland’s leading juvenile filly but she would still be someway behind the best of these and although she has performed on soft, her better hurdles form has come on a sounder surface.

    See The Eagle Fly chf Harry Whittington f8-0-2 (57) 62 j2-1-0 (-) 105 99
    Free Eagle (Verglas){5-h}(0.71) 3/1 Cork Harbour 1st Selling Handicap Hurdle (88), Market Rasen 2003
    Twice placed in eight starts on the flat for Thomas Cooper, See The Eagle Fly made a winning hurdles debut at Fontwell in early October, where she was able to take advantage of Balko Saint’s inexperience despite a lack of willingness on her own part. The form received a boost as the runner-up finished third in the Grade Two at Cheltenham, and the underperforming Talking About You won at Ludlow. The third placed also managed to subsequently finish second at Fakenham. Due to her beaten rivals all having excuses, the form can not be taken too literally. Nevertheless, any win where the form has worked out well is worthy of respect which made See The Eagle Fly’s performance at Leicester next time 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 weakened tamely from thereon. Given this is twice in as many races that she has been uncomfortable with the lead, the inclination is to attribute that performance to attitude rather than a lack of stamina or ability. See The Eagle Fly is capable of defying a penalty in ordinary company, although she may require deft handling in order to do so. However, while she comes into this race unpenalised, the quality of her opposition is such that there will be no room for hesitation. Furthermore, the good form enjoyed by his trainer in October has abandoned him for the time being which further tempers enthusiasm.

    Talking About You bf Sean Curran f6-0-1 (60) 60 j7-2-3 (118) 111 116
    Sixties Icon (Mastercraftsman){9-h}(0.50) 3/1 Princess Caerani 2nd Mares’ Maiden Hurdle, Ludlow 2014
    With seven hurdles races already under her belt, Talking About You is the veteran of the division. Her early endeavours were marked by recalcitrance, particularly at the start of her races. Fortunately for connections, a ritual of mounting her at the last possible moment mitigated against her behaviour and a debut third at Newton Abbot led to a second at Sedgefield and culminated with a decisive win at Fontwell. However, a regression in form and behaviour on returns to Market Rasen and Fontwell 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 at Ludlow last month. While she shied away from the tapes at the off , 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 marked a new career best for Talking About You and while her rise of eighteen pounds in the ratings might look harsh, it is broadly in keeping with what she achieved and the form has since been substantiated by the third and fourth each finishing second next time. The stable is in good form and Talking About You could pose a threat if in the right kind of mood, although there are definitive ground concerns to overcome and there is little reason for her to reverse places with Hiconic on previous outings.

    Ten Thousand Stars chf Brian Ellison f7-1-1 (62) 69 j2-0-1 (-) 89 100
    Toronado (Green Tune){1-n}(0.88) 2/1 Le Vagabond 3rd Juvenile Hurdle (G3), Fairyhouse 2015
    A winner at Newmarket for Adrian Nicholls as a two-year-old, Ten Thousand Stars jumped appallingly on her hurdling debut at Sedgefield back in August. Her repertoire of jumping moves included the bunny hop, the twist and jazz hooves before attempting to walk through, rather than jump, the last. Nevertheless, she was arguably (but not definitively) unlucky not to win the race as she was carried across the track by the winner. While only a small contest, first placed Historic Heart subsequently scored at Wetherby and the runner-up was Talking About You. Ten Thousand Stars jumped and travelled better next time at Perth, but was unable to match the form and though she looked a likely winner at two out, her effort was short lived and she would fade to finish an eight length fourth. An inconsistent type on the flat, she is probably better than that performance. Nevertheless, even a career best leaves her with plenty to find and she would be better suited by firmer ground.

    Strong prospects
    1. Hiconic
    Reasonable prospects
    2. Megan
    3. Army Of One
    Feasible prospects
    4. Bellatrixsa
    5. Scholastic
    6. Talking About You
    7. Her Indoors
    Moderate prospects
    8. High Moor Flyer
    9. See The Eagle Fly
    10. Ten Thousand Stars
    11. Sarceaux
    Negligible prospects
    12. Lightning Blue

    • Total Posts 508

    Nonsense of a race at Aintree.

    However delighted to see Talking About You win. It’s great to see the horses that were out early in the summer continuing to run well.

    Hiconic wasn’t able to dominate and ran a stinker. His chance went when the hurdles were taken out.

    Bachelors Hall
    • Total Posts 1463

    So I’ve managed to do a preview for tomorrow’s race at Fontwell because it looks a nice little contest. However, for the foreseeable future, my contributions will likely be sporadic in nature. As much as I dread for the project to get too far away from me, personal circumstances are not entirely conducive to the dedication I would like to give to this thread. Hopefully when my situation stabilises, so too will my contributions. But in the meantime, I will only post what I can, when I can.

    Tomorrow’s race at Fontwell has been held each season since the mid nineties and has been won by some useful sorts including Serenus, Warne’s Way and Verasi. In recent years, it has been a fairly average contest for the track with only 2011 winner Secret Edge going on to place in a Grade One. Nevertheless, this year’s renewal features a pair of French hurdles imports, one who won impressively on his UK debut, and another who was a beaten favourite first time out. Fontwell’s winning DIs of 1.15 median, 1.45 mean are just higher than average, but its extended distance can put additional emphasis when the ground is soft and its completion rate is an accordingly low 85.05%.

    Triumph Odds
    Nassalam 25/1
    Hacker des Places 66/1

    Hacker Des Places bg Paul Nicholls j3-1-2 (132) 117 108
    Great Pretender (Le Havre){7}(0.45) 2/0 Wild Queen 1st Prix Triquerville (L 4yo Chs), Auteuil 2006
    Third behind Paros and Jeu de Paume on his debut at Dieppe in May, Hacker des Places won at the second time of asking at Dax the following month. While Jeu de Paume is firmly established as one of the better juveniles in France, Paros was disappointing on his UK debut at Sandown and though the runner-up at Dax was a dual winner in minor company, the form has not worked out particularly well. Hacker des Places was green on his first two starts in France and that was also the case on his stable bow at Wincanton in October. He also jumped big in France but this was also mixed with some swift jumping which was not apparent at Wincanton and he was readily outpaced by his winning stablemate having never settled during the contest. The form of that contest has not really been tested but he was still clear of the remainder and is likely capable of better, particularly on this softer surface. Though the yard’s imported hurdlers have a very good 32.89% strike rate first time, their second time rate is even higher at 35.59%. Of the five imported French Hurdlers beaten at odds-on first time for the yard to have reappeared that season, three have won including Qualando and Saphir du Rheu.

    Nassalam chg Gary Moore j2-1-1 (-) 130 126
    Dream Well (Shirocco){14-b}(0.80) 0.5 Msassa 4th Champion Four Year Old Hurdle (G1), Punchestown 2018
    Gary Moore has won this race four times since 2004 with Alchemystic, Verasi, Darebin and Aiguille Rouge. However, while Verasi would develop into a useful sort, thirteen of the yard’s juveniles would achieve higher seasonal RPRs including his runner here. A half-brother to Msassa, 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 and another one at Auteuil last week. He is currently rated 143 while the horse who finished third is on 132 although that is a falling mark. Nassalam got big at a couple of the early flights at Clairefontaine and it was the same case on his UK debut over this course and distance. 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. The former inmate of Guillaume Macaire could not have won his race any easier having cruised into the lead turning for home before extending his advantage without being asked to accelerate. Though the runner-up had won in France, he disappointed again at Market Rasen and that is the only measure for his UK form. He did win the race in a good time and it will be interesting to see against a more substantial opponent in Hacker des Places.

    Hipster Macalo bg Mrs Jane Williams J1-0-0 (-) 0 0
    Cokoriko (Sabrehill){u}(1.00) 2/2 Sacre Toi 1st Handicap Chase (113), Kelso 2013
    By Cokoriko (Polirico, Coko Beach and Five O’Clock) and related to numerous winners on the damline, Hipster Macalo made appeal on breeding, ahead of a poor Uttoxeter contest in August and looked well beforehand. However, he started slowly, jumped slowly and would only lose ground. At one stage, he struggled to put distance between himself and a horse who was in the process of being pulled up. To be tailed off so early in such a poor race was an astonishingly bad debut. It would be impossible not to improve on that effort and of the yard’s six previously unraced horses who finished sixth or worse on their debuts, one of them won and three were placed. It is difficult to enthuse over the available racecourse evidence, but his connections’ record mean that he is not yet a forlorn hope.

    Ranco bc David Pipe f9-2-3 (78.1) 69 J2-0-0 (-) 95 99
    Makfi (Diesis){6-e}(1.13) 5/4 Native Gallery 3rd Handicap Hurdle (B,139), Punchestown 2013
    Ranco’s last two outings in France saw him win a handicap off 76 and a claimer from which he was bought for €20,001 ahead of a nondescript hurdling debut at Southwell in early September. His jumping on that occasion went from sketchy to fair to sketchy and it was essentially the same last time at Wetherby with four sound jumps sandwiched between clumsy hurdling in the opening stages, and another error at the last. His twenty length seventh was a marked step up on his debut effort, but it still leaves him some way short of his flat form. Being an import of his mould in a yard of its habits, Ranco will likely improve again within a few more outings. However, he is still an entire and has enough to find with the leading contenders.

    Sans Logique bg David Pipe f5-1-2 (80.3) j3-0-0 (106) 96 104
    Toronado (Whipper){22}(0.75) 0.5 No Thanks 6th Novices Hurdle, Uttoxeter 2020
    A stablemate of Ranco, Sans Logique is another who was claimed from a French claimer, albeit for €5,000 less.
    He ran a fair race on his hurdling debut at Sedgefield even if it did not match his French flat form but his latest three starts have been disappointing. His jumping was erratic on his penultimate start back at Sedgefield and while it was better on his latest outing at this course under a more patient ride, he was a tired horse from some way out. He has since been given a mark of 106 which is a little harsh based on the best of his hurdles efforts, but lenient on the best of his flat form. He has opted to eschew handicaps for the time being and this will be his first outing since a wind operation.

    Zellerate bg Mark Gillard b1-0-0 (-) 39 J1-0-0 (-) 0 0
    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 made his debut in an Exeter junior bumper where he started at 125/1 and beat just one of his eleven rivals home, trailling in by forty-seven lengths. His hurdling debut came at the same venue last month where he was pulled up at 300/1.

    Eagle’s First bf Neil Mulholland b1-0-0 (-) 52
    Free Eagle (Mark Of Esteem){16-d}(0.39) 0.5 Harley Rebel 1st Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (125), Sandown 2016
    Another to come from junior bumpers, Eagle’s First was not unfancied at Warwick and had also attracted the services of Richard Johnson. However, after racing prominently, she weakened to beat just two of her rivals home and was beaten thirty-four lengths. Her profile is not discouraging however as her sire has already had two winners in the sphere in his first crop, half-brother Harley Rebel won three races in the division for the yard, and useful French handicap chaser Karibiksturm appears on the damline at 3/2. Neil Mulholland wins more than his fair share of races with juvenile hurdlers although neither of his winners came from bumpers which is a discipline with a poor first time out record over hurdles.

    Strong prospects
    1. Hacker des Places
    Reasonable prospects
    2. Nassalam
    Feasible prospects
    3. Hipster Macalo
    4. Sans Logique
    Moderate prospects
    5. Eagle’s First
    6. Ranco
    Negligible prospects
    7. Zellerate

    Bachelors Hall
    • Total Posts 1463

    The withdrawal of Hacker des Places significantly alters the shape of the contest. Fortunately, the amendment to the prospects list is pretty straightforward.

    Outstanding prospects
    1. Nassalam
    Feasible prospects
    2. Hipster Macalo
    3. Sans Logique
    Moderate prospects
    4. Eagle’s First
    5. Ranco
    Negligible prospects
    6. Zellerate

    Bachelors Hall
    • Total Posts 1463

    Behold, a dent has been made in the review backlog. Thirty-three of the ninety-five of the unravelled stitches have been put back into place which brings us up to December. The preview for tomorrow’s race at Warwick has also been completed. My current situation is still sketchy at best and there will likely be another patch or two of inactivity coming soon, but hopefully I will be able to do the previews for the good races at Cheltenham and Doncaster if nothing else.

    Peat Moss 27/11/2020 Doncaster 2m3½f Handicap Hurdle
    Doncaster’s handicap hurdle attracted two juveniles, with Peat Moss marginally the better handicapped of the pair. He jumped fine for most of the contest, with the only real mishap coming when he was squeezed out at the seventh. Briefly outpaced when turning for home, he plugged on up the straight without ever threatening the leaders. This was the best of his three runs in handicap company to date and he was suited by the step up in trip. Dropped another pound to 103 he is on a fair mark and should not be disgraced if putting his best foot forward. 103

    Fraterculus 27/11/2020 Doncaster 2m3½f Handicap Hurdle
    Making his handicap debut, Fraterculus was rated to the fullest extent of his abilities. Keen from the outset, he tracked the leader for most of the race, jumping well in the process. He was still prominent turning in but would fade as the race reached its conclusion and eventually faded back to midfield. The trip might be beyond his scope and he did himself no favours by running freely, although it was not a race in which the front runners fared well. His revised mark of 102 is more in keeping with his better form and he can be competitive off that kind of rating if settling better. 92

    NEWCASTLE 28th November
    Preview review
    The strong prospect was beaten narrowly, the front three were clear of the feasible prospect who was in turn, clear of the remainder. The winner was straighter than anticipated but the margins were narrow so as not to require much revision.

    Race review
    While it was perhaps not the strongest renewal of the contest, it was still an above average one in the scope of the division as a whole. The pace was sound and the time is respectable in comparison to the one posted by the Champion Hurdler later on the card. The right horses filled the right positions and while the jumping was not always flawless from the principals, but it was still of a good standard. Overall, the form looks reliable.

    Son Of Red improved with each of his three outings on the flat this year and he continued that trajectory with another career best here. Tracking the leader throughout, he was fairly keen for the bulk of the contest. Nevertheless, while this gave him a tendency to wander into his early hurdles, the only mechanical errors he made came when under pressure in the straight as he skewed at three out, and got in close to the last two flights. These mistakes had only a moderate impact on his momentum and he got the best of a battle after the last to eventually grind down the leader to win by a neck. He largely jumped economically for a newcomer and the real concern going forward is that he will be want to settle better if he is to progress from this level. Otherwise, he has a decent base on which to build, is not one to shirk a battle and though he has yet to show a preference for going, he appears to act on any type. He currently holds an entry for the Summit Hurdle and it will be interesting to see how he fares should he take his place. 117

    State Crown had raced prominently on the flat was sent straight into the lead here. While he was somewhat keen, he was not fighting for his head and settled reasonable well after passing the stands. Though not especially tidy at the first, the only flaws in his jumping through the back were steadying slightly on the approach to a couple which was likely a lack of concentration than any reticence. He clipped the top of three out and rather reached at the penultimate flight, but his jump at the last was as good as any seen in the race. State Crown was headed briefly after the last but showed good resilience to reclaim the lead and was only worn down close to the line. A marked improvement on his Ludlow outing, which itself is working out well, he at least matched the best of his flat form here. Perhaps he may have had enough in reserve to hold on had he settled slightly better but otherwise, it was a solid performance and he is capable of winning a race of his own. 117

    Castel Gandolfo began his race with a terribly untidy leap at the first and was big and slow at the next. However, the remainder of his round was error free which is an improvement on his jumping at Musselburgh. He was always racing close to the lead but while he was not discernibly outpaced or outstayed, he was always a couple of lengths short of the front two. Slightly keen, but no worse than his main rivals, he matched his debut outing and is another who can win an ordinary contest. 114

    Sir Charles Punch had a habit of pulling hard on the flat, but the introduction of hurdles rather tempered his boistrousness. Beginning his round with a hesitant hop, he got in close to the next two, wandered into the fourth, steadied into the fifth, and after a couple of acceptable jumps, clipped the top of the penultimate flight. Though he attempted to keep tabs on the leaders, he was readily outpaced after three out and was ten lengths behind the third at the line. Nevertheless, he was still upwards of twenty lengths clear of the remainder and while he did not match the best of his flat form, the performance was in keeping with his more recent efforts. Sir Charles Punch was not disgraced and there is scope for improvement with more confident hurdling. 105

    I’m Easy achieved little in three outings on the flat and completely lacked fluency on his hurdles debut at Southwell. Save for a slow jump at the first, his jumping was fine here but he never got out of midfield and was beaten thirty-four lengths in the end. He has a shred of ability but he looks unlikely to make any impact in open company at this stage. 83

    My Macho Man won at this venue on his flat debut at the end of February for John Quinn, but left that yard for 7,000 guineas ahead of his jumps bow here. His jumping was not tidy in the early stages, but he was still able to get from one side to another quickly enough. However, after getting hampered on the approach to the fourth, he made an error which did cost him momentum and though he regained ground, he began to toil in the straight. It was not a debut outing without promise, but he would need to be more confident before he can replicate his flat ability. 83

    Temper Trap won twice on the flat but did not achieve a great deal in the process. He was beaten by thirty-one lengths on his hurdling debut at Catterick but it was not a run without promise and only lost his position in the straight due to being keen early. He was just as keen here but was not as quick getting away from his hurdles this time around and would eventually finish tailed off. 66

    Station To Station was having his first run in over a year, and his first start for a trainer with a respectable record in the sphere. He jumped fine for the first three hurdles, but completely missed the fourth and almost fell in the process. He was reasonably fluent from thereon but he never left the rear of the field and eventually finished tired and tailed off. 64

    LEICESTER 29th November
    Preview review
    The winner was given negligible prospects although this was a general consensus given that he had twice been beaten in sellers on either code. His hurdling debut at the track was not abhorrent and his best flat form gave him feasible prospects due to the quality of the race, but he still appeared to have plenty to find. The top prospect was too keen for his own good but the quality of his flat form was questionable in any case. Sure I’m Your Man disappointed but he was revealed to have bled. Opine ran as well as expected and Galidermes ran into a place despite predictably poor jumping.

    Race review
    This did not look like a compelling affair beforehand and that perception was not improved by a surprise winner who was previously tailed off in a course and distance seller. Nevertheless, those who disappointed had patchy profiles in any case and the front two pulled clear of the strung out remainder. The runner-up looked to shirk the battle but there were no hard luck stories in behind so the superiority of the front two is acceptable on the day. The pace was solid and the winning time was slightly quicker than that of the seller, and less than a second slower than the Class 4 handicap later on the card. The overall quality of the race looks poor and given the inconsistent profiles and performances, would not look particularly reliable in the long term.

    Blue Slate brought a flat rating of 47 into his hurdles debut over this course and distance a fortnight earlier where he was beaten over thirty lengths in a seller. He jumped reasonably on that occasion and was still in contention at the top of the long straight. However, his ability to win this type of race was not sufficiently evident and his win here marks a new career best. He travelled well to move into a prominent position entering the back straight and his jumping, while not flawless, helped him maintain his position. He jumped into the lead at three out and though his only mistake at the last saw him briefly headed, he quickly regained the lead and was always holding the runner-up despite hanging his head on the run-in. Blue Slate is clearly a better hurdler than a flat horse but the form is not of a high quality and it remains to be seen if he can duplicate this effort. 100

    Opine failed to place in eight runs on the flat for Michael Bell, but he overcame some novicey jumping to finish second on his first start for Jonjo O’Neill at Huntingdon. Though better in the middle portion of his next outing at Lingfield, he took a tired tumble at the last when beaten. His jumping was still untidy here but it was still his best round to date and after travelling well to the last, briefly went into the lead. However, despite trading as low as 1.02 in running, he made little attempt to put the race to bed and finished a length down on the winner. Prone to inconsistency on the flat, Opine is also looking unreliable over hurdles and while he once again surpassed his flat form, he does not look an obvious winner in the near future. 99

    Galidermes was a triple winner on the flat in the French provinces, but he made mistakes at most hurdles on his jumps debut at Warwick before finishing tailed off. He also made mistakes at every hurdle here, either jumping too big or too close, and being slow to get away from the later obstacles. He finished closer in what was a much poorer contest, albeit with over fifteen lengths between himself and the winner. Nevertheless, he still had twenty lengths in hand over his remaining rivals. Still a run short of obtaining a mark, he might be able to improve considerably with better jumping. However, for the time being, he has only achieved moderate form and looks in need of further experience. 85

    Sergeant was formerly trained in Germany by Christian Von Der Recke, who supplied connections with the useful Mondul who won this race in 2004. Though twice a winner in the fatherland, the standard of form looked no better than average by any measure. He was keen early and did not approach the first two with much conviction. Nonetheless, apart from reaching at the fourth and getting close to the sixth, he was otherwise tidy enough. Held up in the rear, he made some headway entering the straight, but he was unable to sustain a challenge and weakened quite quickly. He reportedly lost a shoe during the contest and a better assessment may be made after another run. 65

    Goodbye Grass was last of twelve at 150/1 on his sole flat start in early September and was not fancied to do any better here. His pedigree is unremarkable without being hopeless and he jumped reasonably well for the most part. He was baulked going over the fifth and his hurdling took on a tired character in the straight before finishing tailed off. 54

    Bentley Wood had bits and pieces of form to show for a six race career on the flat, but despite jumping reasonably to begin with at Uttoxeter, he finished absolutely tailed off. Wind surgery and a five week break saw no improvement as he pulled hard and his jumping was poor from the start. 51

    You Owe Me jumped well in the lead from the outset and was still in contention at three out. However, he dropped away quickly before being allowed to complete in his own time. Another having his first run following wind surgery, looked to be running his best race over hurdles to date before blowing up. His rating of 73 is the second lowest given to any juvenile hurdler thus far, but while it still exceeds his performances at face value, he may still be able to work with it if finding a weak enough race. 51

    African Sun was beaten in three handicaps during the summer, the latest occasion seeing him tailed off on a mark of 46. Changing hands for just 1,000 guineas, he completely lacked fluency in the rear of the field and was detached before half-way. He reportedly lost a shoe. 0

    Glass Of Bubbles ran away with a seller at this venue on her latest flat outing, but was very disappointing on her hurdling debut at Fakenham where she was slow and untidy before weakening quickly some way from home. After a slow jump at the first, she put in a better round here. However, following a tired jump three from home, she quickly lost her position and was pulled up before the last. 0

    Sure I’m Your Man was slightly reticent on his hurdling debut at Bangor, but he still finished a creditable third and was backed into favouritism here. However, he was even more cautious with a stronger gallop and after losing touch down the back straight, his steady jumping became tired jumping. Pulled up before the last, he was found to have bled from the nose. 0

    FAIRYHOUSE 29th November
    Preview review
    All of the horses finished according to the prospects list. Zanahiyr won with greater ease than anticipated but there is little scope for reflection in hindsight.

    Race review
    The race looked as strong as any seen this side of Christmas and while Druid’s Altar went off too quickly, the quality of the first two should not be understated. The pace was strong and the winning time was over ten seconds quicker than the Royal Bond, and six seconds quicker than the Grade A handicap hurdle (plus one hurdle) and nearly five seconds quicker than the concluding bumper. The analysis by Simon Rowlands does a fine job of elucidating the quality of this performance and while it would be fanciful to imagine that Zanahiyr is a near fifty length superior horse to Ballyadam, it was still a very impressive exhibition. The front two both jumped extremely well and were a long way clear of the remainder.

    Zanahiyr earned a rating of 80 as an unexposed improver on the flat for Michael Halford, and being a son of Nathaniel from the family of numerous good jumpers, he is bred to do well in this sphere. He made a very pleasing debut over hurdles at Ballinrobe where his jumping was decent save for a few minor errors. While the runner-up rather let the form down next time at Punchestown, the standard of his performance still warranted respect on his step into graded company. Settling behind the clear leader, Zanahiyr closed to within a length with six furlongs left to run and sharing the lead on the run in and had cruised into a definitive lead by the penultimate flight. Shaken up on the approach to the last, he quickly built a lead of over a dozen lengths which he would maintain to the line. While the word perfect should be avoided when describing racehorses, apart from very slightly brushing the top of two out, Zanahiyr jumped about as well as is possible for a juvenile hurdler. If looking for reasons to downplay this performance, the capitulation of Druid’s Altar left Zanahiyr with only one rival to beat and that was an import having his first outing for four months. Furthermore, given the exceptional nature of this performance, it is possible that conditions were absolutely optimal for him on this occasion. Nevertheless, he thoroughly deserves his place at the head of the Triumph Hurdle market and while 4/1 is short for any juvenile hurdler before Boxing Day, it can be noted that the last four favourites to have single digit prices at this stage were Peace And Co, Defi du Seuil, Apples Shakira and Goshen. Whatever happens between now and March, it will take a very good horse to lower his colours in this kind of form. 143

    Saint Sam was a well-bred, dual winner in France making his stable debut for a yard which used this race to introduce Bapaume and Kalkir in recent seasons. His form in France ties in favourably with that shown by Nassalam and he was fancied to make a winning start in Ireland. Racing alongside Zanahiyr throughout the race, his jumping was very good and the only errors he made were clipping the top of the second and the last while getting in close to the sixth. He had the measure of Druid’s Altar as easily as Zanahiyr and traded as low as 1.47 in-running after briefly looking to be travelling the better of the pair. However, it soon became apparent that he was no match for the winner on the day, and plugged on to finish fourteen lengths in arrears. Nevertheless, this was a very pleasing first run for Willie Mullins and with experience under his belt and fitness on his side, there is no reason why Saint Sam can not play his part among the leading juveniles in the division. 133

    Druid’s Altar had flat form which was only two degrees of separation from the Breeders’ Cup mile winner, and he made a very good impression on his hurdling debut at Puchestown in testing conditions a fortnight earlier. His jumping was not always fluent on that occasion and it was the same story here as he was untidy at most of his obstacles. He set a pace which he was unable to maintain and after getting caught by the front two with six furlongs to run, he was left behind by that pair two furlongs later. Though he was able to hold onto third, he did so only by a neck from a filly who was over forty lengths behind him at Punchestown. This was not his true showing and he can return to something like his best under a more patient ride next time. 95

    Rock Chica achieved little in six starts on the flat, but after a promising debut at Punchestown in late September, she romped away with a fillies’ maiden at Tipperary the following month. She was outclassed behind Druid’s Altar next time and while she almost caught that rival here, she was never in contention. Her jumping was reasonable save for getting low at the fifth and steadying at the sixth, but she needs a drop in class if she is to be competitive again. 88

    Wyett Earp slightly hampered Rock Chica at the first by jumping left, but while he lacked fluency and was tired with a mile left to run, he was able to collect €550 without making a nuisance of himself. 0

    FAKENHAM 30th November
    Preview review
    The second and third in the prospects lists filled the “correct” positions. However, that was where the accuracy ended as the top prospect flopped, and the winner was given negligible prospects. What makes this baffling is that the winner pulled hard for much of the contest and jumped abysmally. While his Kempton outing showed that he could set a good gallop, it also raised concerns over his stamina which were exacerbated by the softened ground. Can’t Stop Now completed a double on the card for his trainer and while he was not the subject of strong support in the market, his success may be put down to him being in good form, and his rivals underperforming to one degree or another. The top prospect was in the process of running a solid race and had traded as low as 1.31 in-running. He was hampered when closing on the leader at two out and while it may be a stretch to say that this incident cost him the race, his subsequent sulking could be an explanation.

    Race review
    This did not look a strong contest beforehand and the withdrawal of Hacker des Places and the surprise winner consolidated this impression. While a strong pace was set, the winning time was over three seconds slower than the three runner maiden hurdle earlier on the card. Even accounting for the deteriorating ground, the winner of that race was a hurdling debutant carrying ten pounds more than Can’t Stop Now. The winner’s jumping was poor and the runner-up was not as fluent as last time. While the field finished strung out and the placed horses were entitled to finish as they did, it does not look like the most reliable race from a form perspective.

    Can’t Stop Now was twice placed on the flat and earned a rating of 73 before leaving Clive Cox for 7,000 guineas in July. While he ran freely on his hurdling debut at Kempton, his novicey jumping settled down as the race progressed and while he faded to finish fifteen lengths third, it was not an effort without promise. However, he deprived himself of the opportunity to supplement that effort next time at Ludlow when virtually refusing to race and pulling up shortly after the start. The rain softened conditions appeared to play against his strengths here and though he led from the outset, his price nearly doubled in-running as he pulled hard for most of the contest. His jumping was also poor as along with almost falling at the sixth, he got in very close to the first and veered badly right at two out. He also wandered into most of his hurdles including the last where he left his hind legs in the flight. Despite all of this, he finished the race better than any of his rivals and was eight lengths clear at the line. Giving Starspangledbanner his first jumps winner, everything about this performance is so anomalous that it can not be taken at face value. Even if the best of his flat form and his Kempton experience gave him a chance in this contest, he pulled so hard and jumped so poorly that it is difficult to imagine that his superiority over all of his opponents is to be trusted. He may well duplicate and exceed this performance in the future, but until that happens, scepticism would be the prevailing sentiment. 106

    Grouseman was rated just 50 after seven runs on the flat. However, his better form was on a sound surface and it was on good ground that he posted two progressive efforts over hurdles. He jumped reasonably on his jumps bow at Warwick and was better again when finding only Gold Desert too strong in the closing stages at Catterick. The going was forecast to be good but the ground deteriorated to soft and Grouseman’s jumping suffered as he got in close to all but one of his hurdles from the third onwards. Though eight lengths clear of the third, this was still a regression on his Catterick performance and while he has dropped from 118 to 116, this mark still exceeds his achievements. He will be of more interest on better ground in a very ordinary non-handicap. 98

    Tamaris decisively won a Wolverhampton handicap off 64 on his final start for Roger Charlton before joining his new connections for 60,000 guineas. Well supported ahead of his debut at Huntingdon, he was a creditable third despite some awkward jumping. While big at the first and steady at the third, his jumping was better here but he was unable to match his debut performance, finishing sixteen lengths behind the winner. He has since been gelded which, along with a return to a sounder surface, may instil the improvement he will need to find if he is to match his rating of 108. 90

    Eventful was bought for £11,000 after finishing second in a claimer and has joined a yard with a good record in the division. She jumped well for the most part but while she made some headway on the final circuit, was unable to make any impression in the closing stages. Though beaten by nearly twenty lengths, she was not entirely disgraced on her first outing for new connections but she will still need to improve before she can be competitive. 80

    The Cincinnati Kid represented a yard which had recently broke a losing run in the division and this 75 rated flat winner was backed into favouritism to make a winning hurdling debut. He was not altogether convincing with his jumping as he got in close to the second, clipped the top of the fourth and was untidy at the seventh. Nevertheless, while he was not travelling brilliantly, he was still closing on the leader when he was hampered by the same horse at two out. Though this probably did not have a dramatic impact on his performance, it did coincide with his efforts truncating and he was passed by two rivals prior to the finish. His better flat form had come on the all-weather, and his being an entire may also have been detrimental to his performance. Although his flat ability suggests he can fare well in this discipline, he emerges from this contest with something to prove. 82

    Jersey Grey had a battling win at Lingfield from a subsequent winner sandwiched between being outclassed at Chepstow and Cheltenham. He returned to calmer waters under a penalty but was already getting pushed along with a circuit to run before losing touch after a mistake three out. The ground will not have been a problem as he won on soft at Lingfield, and given he was in trouble a long way from home, this can be marked down as a straightforward underperformance. His rating of 106 is not excessively harsh and he may fare better in that discipline if returning to his best. 87

    Jack Ryan won on heavy ground over seven furlongs at Yarmouth in October, and did not jump badly on his hurdling debut at Musselburgh early in the month. However, he had been below par in two outings on the all-weather and while his jumping was fine once again, he was tired within the final half-mile and pulled up before the last. 0

    Nachtstern was moderate on the flat in Germany, but is a half-brother to the useful juvenile Nordano and represents a stable with a good record in the division. However, after reaching for the first, he got in too close to the second, and was big and slow over the next couple of flights. While his jumping settled down, so too did his speed and he was another who pulled up tired. The stable’s first time out rate is relatively moderate so it would not be unreasonable to expect some improvement. 0

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