Tolworth Hurdle winner Elixir De Nutz was cut to 14/1 from 33s for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham in March at BetVictor after a workmanlike success in Sandown’s Grade 1. The race threw up the 1-2 in the Festival opener 12-months ago and there was much to like about the performance of the Colin Tizzard-trained novice whose jumping was out of the very top draw.
Laurina was left unchanged at 4/1 for the Champion Hurdle at BetVictor after her bloodless win in the listed Mares’ contest which ended up a match following two late defections. Remember she will receive 7lbs from the geldings at Cheltenham.
Plumpton winner Mister Dino was receiving 5lbs from Knocknanuss yesterday, but I was very impressed with the French raider and he was cut from 12s to 6/1 for the JLT Chase with BetVictor – he will go for the Scilly Isles Chase at Sandown next time, but Cheltenham is the primary objective.
The ground is described as good for today’s card at Musselburgh. Henry’s Joy (1.15) was only beaten a length when runner up over C&D from a 1lb higher mark under Brian Hughes who is reunited this afternoon.
Chasing debutant Fortunes Hiding makes the journey up from south Wales for Peter Bowen and a market move is advised although the yard could not be described as being in top form at present.
If the step up in trip can help Ballynanty jump with more fluency than he did here last week over 2m 4f he must go very close from the foot of the weights in the 3m Hurdle. Rainy City finished in front of Colby (4.00) at Catterick on soft ground last time, but the letter will appreciate the return to good ground and today’s near 3m trip looks ideal. Trainer Chris Grant is another whose string could be in better form, but 6-y-o Colby remains open to further improvement.
In the finale Alright Sunshine (3.35) can return to winning ways having finished runner up in a Newcastle Bumper (1m 6f) on soft ground last time after a winning debut at Carlisle back in November.
Duel Bumper winner Sea Story (1.05) ran a promising race on her hurdles debut at Southwell before appearing a non-stayer over 2m 5f at Kelso last month. She makes her handicap debut at Chepstow this afternoon on good to soft ground and looks fairly treated although both her Bumper successes were gained on soft ground.
The form of Severano’s (1.40) second at Newbury at the end of November has been franked by the winner (Bright Forecast) following up at Leicester. He is taken to go one better for Oliver Sherwood and Aidan Coleman who takes over from Leighton Aspell.
Top And Drop (2.10) represents the inform yard of Venetia Williams who was heavily backed but disappointed at Hereford last time. The selection has finished 2nd and 3rd in her two starts over jumps at Chepstow and connections appear to have found a very good opportunity for her to break her maiden tag.
If there is a star on show this afternoon it is likely to be winning Irish pointer Dickie Diver (2.40) who cost JP McManus £210,000 at Goffs Sales last January. His subsequent absence from the track is a concern and Nico De Boinville takes over in the plate this afternoon with Barry Geraghty missing the ride after reported to be sore after a recent fall.
Air De Rock (3.15) was still going well when coming down two out at Ffos Las when last seen back in November. The handicapper has had his say with the gelding going up 6lbs for that run, but the yard of Venetia Williams were not firing on all cylinders at that time – they are now.
I hope it is a red-letter day for the Williams stable as they also saddled Cloudy Glen (3.50) in the finale in the colours of Trevor Hemmings. The 6-y-old won a conditional jockey’s event at Haydock last weekend and escapes a penalty for that facile 8L victory.
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