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Juvenile Hurdlers 2020/2021

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  • Every chance anything you say Kotkijet, sleep deprived or not, will make a hell of alot more sense than most of us can say at the best of times...


    • WARWICK - note - videos to the addressed French races can be found in the links.
      As far as quality of juvenile hurdles are concerned, Warwick is in the top third of racecourses in the UK and Ireland. In the shadows of one of the nicest castles in the country, Warwick hosts its first such contest tomorrow morning. A regular fixture at the meeting, this race has been won by some fine sorts over the years including We Have A Dream in 2017, who would win Grade Ones at Chepstow and Aintree, and last year's winner Allmankind who was third in the Triumph and incidentally, makes his chase debut later on the card. Of the eight declarations for tomorrow, only one has hurdling experience which is an increasingly rare composition now that the season is in full flow. Several good yards in the division will be represented and some fair flat form is bought to proceedings so it might produce a fairly useful sort or two. With average winning DIs of 1.40 median, 1.58 mean, Warwick's juvenile hurdles place much more of an emphasis on speed rather than stamina. The clear round rate of 94.94% is one of the lowest in the country suggesting that such speed makes for a more exacting test of jumping.

      Adagio bg David Pipe f3-1-2 GAG 39.5 (BHA 87) RPR 81
      Wiener Walzer (Hernando){9-e}(0.73) 3/3 Labaik 1st Supreme Novices' Hurdle (G1), Cheltenham 2017
      Much has been written within these pages on the matter of juvenile hurdlers who were bought out of French claimers on the flat. Four winners from twenty-two such types since 2008/09 is not a bad record. However, while it would be reasonable to expect roughly half of them to match or improve on their flat ratings between the codes, only 18.18% have actually done so. Furthermore, of the four who have won, only Edward O'Gradys's Humaniste won first time out and there is a tendency for such horses to come on for a few runs. Particularly those trained by David Pipe who is responsible for the more expensive of two ex-French claimers due to line up tomorrow. Adagio began his career with a pair of placed efforts for Jean-Pierre Carvalho towards the backend of last year. After finishing second in a six-and-a-half furlong maiden at Krefeld, he was then third, a month later over a furlong longer, at Deauville behind a pair currently rated 92.4 and 101.2. Switching to the Pavel Vovcenko stable, he returned in the middle of August to run out a convincing eight length winner of a twelve furlong Clairefontaine claimer under Christophe Soumillon. Behind him that day were four previous winners who each had official equivalent ratings exceeding 70, although the form has not worked out well since, producing only one subsequent winner who scored in a weak Claimer at Nimes. Nevertheless, such was his superiority, a rating in the early-mid nineties would seem appropriate and be the highest flat mark in this field. Sire Wiener Walzer, the 2009 German Derby winner, had his first jumps winner on at the end of August when Adagio's full-sister Ad Acta won a weak maiden at Vertou. Damsire Hernando is the strongest represented in this race and Adagio's third dam produced Arcadio and is the great-granddam of the mercurial Supreme Novice winner Labaik. The yard does well in the division and has been in decent form as of late. Adagio's form and pedigree entitles him to respect, although given his background, it is possible that he may be seen to better effect with experience.

      Camacho Man chc Jennie Candlish f10-0-1 (54) 54
      Camacho (Lawman){13-c}(0.71) 3/1 Erzadjan 1st Juvenile Hurdle, Newcastle 1993
      Camacho Man has ten runs under his name to date, but he has not been seen since the Tenth of December last year.On this day, he finished three-and-a-half lengths fifth of eleven in a Wolverhampton Handicap off 55. While he finished second at Newcastle three starts earlier, this was still close enough to his best achievements during the campaign. Best known for winning the 2010 Wensleydale with Maoi Chinn Tire, Jennie Candlish's winner to runner record in the sphere is an average 20%. Camacho has had some fair winners in Mr Adjudicator, El Beau and Cafe Con Leche although his overall record is just below par. Though Camacho Man is related to winners further back on the damline, including Ebaziyan at 3/3, his overall profile is patchy and his flat form is quite poor in the context of this field. As much as Camacho Man likely enjoys the status, that he remains an entireis also a negative for his prospects.

      Duke Of Condicote bg Alan King 8-1-2 (79) 85
      No Nay Never (Halling){A16}(3.00) 3/2 Pateese 3rd Imperial Cup (L,125), Sandown 2011
      Since 2008/09, Alan King has saddled more winning juvenile hurdlers than any other trainer in the UK or Ireland. Furthermore, of all trainers with twenty of more winners in the division, only John Quinn and Willie Mullins have superior improvement rates. Yet no resident of Barbury Castle has won a juvenile hurdle since January and four have tried this season without success. Some horse will inevitably end this drought and n terms of flat form, Duke Of Condicote's exploits well in the context of this field. Following four races as a two-year-old, including finishing within four lengths of subsequent Derby runner-up Khalifa Sat, Duke Of Condicote was able to break his maiden on his seasonal return when sharing a Haydock Handicap in early June. Ran over an extended eleven furlongs on good to soft, the contest ended in a dead-heat with Bharani Star, fourth next time in the Ribblesdale at Royal Ascot, splitting first place off a mark of 71. The fourth and fifth have been subsequent winners, the latter being Soldier On Parade who will be no stranger to those who follow the division. Duke Of Condicote was runner-up again next time at Windsor behind dual subsequent winner Grand Bazaar, before posting a lacklustre performance back at Haydock a fortnight later. Following a 99 day break, he returned to the track to finish second behind cosy winner Opera Gift at Yarmouth twenty-five days ago. Another race over eleven-and-a-half soft furlongs, the two with subsequent outings each finished second next time. Though No Nay Never is an influence for speed and precocity, he does not appear to have trouble producing horses who stay which is a quality that can be safely ascribed to Duke Of Condicote. However, he is still without a winning hurdler from five and grandsire Scat Daddy is also lacking in this department. Though related to a jumps winner in Switzerland at 2/1 and Patesse can be found at 3/2 on the damline, the entirety of thoroughbred family A16 is without any representatives in juvenile hurdling. Halling does get winners in the division as a damsire, including recent Wensleydale third Cabot Cliffs, and Duke Of Condicote's flat form is sufficiently strong to Alan King's drought in the sphere. However, while breeding is not the ultimate qualifier in terms of a horse's potential aptitude, the pedigree is still decidedly patchy.

      Fact Or Fable grg J S Moore f25-0-2 (48) 64
      Alhebayeb (Dansili){9}(3.00) 0.5 Uther Pendragon 3rd Novices' Hurdle, Kempton 2019
      Fact Or Fable has already amassed twenty-five career starts to date, but has yet to place in the first two and is currently rated just 48. Only three of those runs were beyond seven furlongs and he was well beaten on each occasion. The fifth dam Fantan produced the brilliant Ragusa and is the matriarch of a family which includes the likes of Nietzche (5/4), Battle Group, Self Defence and Upgrade (5/5), Simply Ned and Degas Art (5/6) and Wicklow Brave (5/7). Closer on the damline are winners Bold Statement (3/1) and Tarski (2/1) while half-brother Uther Pendragon was placed in a Kempton Novices' Hurdle for the yard last year. Alhebayeb is only on his second crop of juveniles but he can already count Duffle Coat amongst his progeny. This is where the encouragement ends however as Fact Or Fable's overall form is poor and the yard is winless in the division since 2008/09.

      Fiscal Prudence bg Harry Whittington f2-0-0 (-) 70
      Fracas (Leroidesanimaux){8-i}(0.86) 2/2 Morga 2nd Handicap Hurdle (A,130), Fairyhouse 2016
      Making his debut at The Curragh last August over seven furlongs, Fiscal Prudence returned to the venue later that month to compete in another maiden over a mile. He was beaten thirteen lengths in the first race but was just over nine lengths fifth next time behind Mogul, finishing ahead of two horses rated over 100. Gelded in March, he was withdrawn from the Tattersalls July sale to go directly from the Jim Bolger yard to join Harry Whittington. A trainer with a solid 42.86% winners to runners rate in the sphere, his improvement rate of 66.67% is very healthy and he has already had a winner this season with another Irish import See The Eagle Fly. Though Fiscal Prudence has been off the track for over a year, his trainer is no slouch when it comes to readying horses after such an absence. Since the start of 2013, Harry Whittington has sent out twelve horses returning after a break of over twelve months with five of them being winners. His clear round rate of 98.18% with juveniles is also one of the best in this field. Half of Fracas's four juveniles have been winners and Fiscal Prudence is a cousin of Morga out of a half-sister to jumps winners Via Archimede and Ard San Aer, herself out of a half-sister to another winner South Leinster. On bare flat form, Fiscal Prudence has ground to find on a couple of these. However, his pedigree is respectable and he is in the right hands if he is to overcome his absence in a creditable fashion.

      Galidermes bg Charlie Mann f13-3-3 FrF (66) 38
      Hunter's Light (Galileo){6-a}(0.58) 2/1 Theos Quercus 1st 4yo Hurdle, Dieppe 2001
      The second horse in the field to emerge from a French claimer, Galidermes was a winner of three of his thirteen starts on the flat for Jo?l Boisnard - the source of one winning juvenile from four since 2008/09 (all ran over hurdles prior to their import). Two of his wins came on his last two starts with his latest win coming in a 2,100 metre claimer at Montignac - a course so provincial that it does not even appear on Zone-Turf, and looks like it is hosted in someone's back garden. This win came five days after he scored over 1,700 metres at the similarly quaint Granville. Neither of those races have produced subsequent winners but the equivalent rating of 66 looks feasible. Hunter's Light has yet to score in the discipline but Galileo is a useful damsire and Galidermes is out of a sister to four-year-old hurdle winner Theos Quercus. Dual winner Herleva (2/2) and the useful Verasi (5/4) also appear on the damline. Charlie Mann has a solid 28.13 winners to runners rate in the sphere and has won with French flat imports including Fixed Rate and Superb Story. However, those both had ratings exceeding 85 and neither came out of claiming company. Certainly not for the €6,001 paid for Galidermes.

      Grouseman bg Pam Sly f7-0-0 (50) 56
      Kyllachy (Danehill Dancer){8-d}(1.91) 2/1 Pivot Bridge 1st Handicap Hurdle (B,110), Killarney 2014
      Fifth on his latest two outings on the flat, Grouseman embarks on his hurdling career with a mark of 50. Though he is out of a half-sister to winner Pivot Bridge, and his third-dam produced winners Right Stuff and Noble Calling, his sire's record in the division is ominous. Since 2008/09, Kyllachy has had twenty-three horses run in sixty races as juvenile hurdlers without registering a single victory. A record unmatched by any other stallion. Pam Sly does get winners in the sphere but her winners to runners rate of 17.65% is not likely enough to disrupt Kyllachy's impressive flow.

      Lustleigh bc Dan Skelton j1-0-0 (-) 88 91
      Kayf Tara (Midnight Legend){11-d}(0.89) 1/0 My Petra 1st 1965 Chase (G2,136), Ascot 2008
      Kayf Tara is without a winning juvenile since Katies Tutor scored in 2006 and his tally of sixteen individual campaigns since 2008/09 has Kyllachy looking over his shoulder. There is no doubting his credentials as a jumps stallion however and Lustleigh, a son of the very useful My Petra, herself a full-sister to the equally talented duo of Midnight Appeal and Lake Legend, is better bred than most failures in the division. He was well supported ahead of his racecourse debut at Wetherby just over three weeks ago and though he would fall at the last when beaten, made a good showing. Leading from the outset, he jumped slightly right at the first, got close to the second, slightly close to the third and sixth before getting too low at his final two jumps. He was only headed on the approach to the last but was a tired horse by that stage. Despite his imperfect jumping, it was still reasonable enough to set a searching gallop and if he shows no ill-effect for the experience, there should be more to come. Particularly as he represents a yard with above average figures across all metrics, which also won this race last season with Allmankind.

      Strong prospects
      1. Fiscal Prudence
      Reasonable prospects
      2. Lustleigh
      3. Duke Of Condicote
      Feasible prospects
      4. Adagio
      Moderate prospects
      5. Galidermes
      Negligible prospects
      6. Camacho Man
      7. Grouseman
      8. Fact Or Fable

      Originally posted by Istabraq View Post
      Every chance anything you say Kotkijet, sleep deprived or not, will make a hell of alot more sense than most of us can say at the best of times...
      I don't know... Given a few more hours sleep, today's 18/1 winner would have been blindingly obvious


      • An exciting week ahead in store for juvenile hurdling with Cheltenham hosting the Grade 2 Prestbury Juvenile Hurdle on Saturday. Entries at this stage include Duffle Coat, Hell Red, Overpriced Mixer, Adagio, Cabot Cliffs and a Dan Skelton newcomer who won at Auteuil back in September. Ludlow hosts a race on Thursday which could also be useful with five winners, two winning French bumper horses and a handful of interesting flat recruits still in the race. Wednesday's race at Bangor looks a little less exhilarating... As an aside, Poker Master makes his handicap debut at Huntingdon tomorrow afternoon and he currently heads the market at the time of writing. While I can not make an assessment of the quality of his rivals, his mark does not look favourable (despite Gold Desert running a fair race last week), his yard has no record of three-year-olds in handicaps, and I am not convinced that the trip will suit. A big run would come as a surprise but weirder things happen in racing on a regular basis.

        The previews for the aforementioned races should be up as and when, but in the meantime, here are the reviews for last week's races.

        Preview review
        I failed to do a preview for the reserve as for some reason, she was not listed as such when I initially drew up my spreadsheet for the race. She would likely have been quite readily dismissed and she ran no sort of race in the event. The strong prospect won and the second and third were the top reasonable prospects. Craic Eile was still near the front when unseating and while he would likely have faded, he put in some very decent jumps along the way. Apart from missing the reserve, there were no major oversights in the preview that warrant addressing.

        Race review
        While the race did not look to match the potential of previous renewals, all but two of the thirteen starters had hurdling experience and several had either performed respectably or had pretentions of doing so. The quality of jumping was largely acceptable and an honest pace was set. While the winning time was considerably slower than that of the useful looking maiden which followed, it was still better than the low grade handicaps later on the card. There were reasons for the runners finishing where they did and the form looks reliable.

        Jeff Kidder had shown solid form on his first two outings over hurdles, splitting Longclaw and Orchestral Rain at Roscommon before finding only Scholastic too good at Punchestown next time. He had won on the flat between those efforts and returned to that sphere without disgrace ahead of this outing. His jumping had been a cause for some trepidation at Punchestown but was much more fluent on the softer ground here. It was not a perfect round as he rather steadied at the first, clipped the top of the second and was slightly awkward at the seventh. Nevertheless, it was a clean round overall and travelled kindly throughout. Always racing prominently while tracking the frontrunners, he found himself boxed in when attempting to challenge turning for home. Nevertheless, he was able to get a clear run approaching the last where a good jump gave him momentum which he carried strongly to the line. The bare form is merely above average but it was still a career best performance and with a discernible improvement in his attitude and aptitude, there is no reason why he can not progress further. 117

        Bigz Belief was only moderate on the flat but had already shown enough in two runs at Punchestown and a recent outing at Galway that he is a better horse over hurdles. He had previously been let down by his jumping, particularly in the latter stages of a race. However, while there were still slight errors throughout this race, there was nothing too alarming and his round was completed with neat and quick jumps over the final two obstacles. Tracking the leader from flag fall, he edged into a narrow lead approaching the penultimate flight and after repelling the challenge of Sideshift, was only headed after the half-furlong marker. Another posting a career best effort, Bigz Belief was suited by the fair nature of the track. Nevertheless, he is capable of getting off the mark in an ordinary contest provided there is not too much emphasis placed on stamina. 114

        Sideshift won a handicap off 60 on the flat for Michael O'Callaghan ahead of a respectable hurdling debut at Galway. There was room for improvement in the jumping department there of which he found a fair amount on this occasion. While he got in close to the fifth, dived slightly at two out and trailed his front legs through the last, he was much more assured here. Although he was fitter and cleaner for the experience, he did not appear to improve from a form perspective, owing largely to the fact that he faded in the closing stages. He has the ability to win an ordinary contest but his stamina is not completely assured and would not be one of the leading lights in his yard. 111

        Complete Fantasy had ran to only a moderate level on the flat in June and his hurdling debut ended quickly after his saddle slipped at Punchestown. He put in a clear round next time at Sligo, but was steady going into most of his hurdles and finished tailed off. Nevertheless, though he was slow at the second and third here, he put up a much more fluent round of jumping and was still in contention approaching the last. However, he got the final flight completely wrong and lost a great deal of momentum which ended his chances of finishing closer. Much his best performance in over a year, Complete Fantasy should be competitive at this level provided that this was not a fluke. 109

        Toughari achieved little in his first six starts on the flat and a lack of fluency contributed to an insipid hurdling debut at Killarney. The application of blinkers on a return to the flat saw him run away with a handicap in the mud at Fairyhouse and he was backed from 16/1 in the morning to 6/1 at the off here. However, he was either close or steady at half of his jumps here and while he was in contention in the straight, could not find enough to make an impact on the finish. Nevertheless, this was an improved showing and with more assured jumping, he can get involved in a weaker contest. 108

        Alexei Vronsky was another winner on the flat for Michael O'Callaghan and ran a fair race in fourth on his jumps debut at Galway. His jumping was respectable first time and apart from getting slightly close at the penultimate flight, put in a decent round here. Racing in mid-division, he attempted to make ground turning for home but was unable to reach a challenging position and would finish a fairly tired eighteen lengths behind the winner. While he clearly jumps well enough to be competitive in an ordinary race, he may well find his stride on better ground. 98

        Flylikeaneagle won twice on the flat for Mark Johnston as a two year old, but was let go quite cheaply at the Tattersalls July sale and has yet to show a great deal for his new yard. He was green and steady at most of his hurdles when outclassed at Ballinrobe on his hurdling bow and was steady and slow over most of the obstacles on this occasion. He improved slightly for the experience but would still have a fair way to go before he can be effective in this discipline. In a subsequent stewards inquiry, Flylikeaneagle reportedly hung left. 89

        Saga Malta is related to a few fair hurdlers and was making her racecourse debut here. Always off the pace, she was awkward over the first few obstacles and got in close to the sixth before finishing well beaten. She can improve for the experience but there is nothing to get too excited about at this juncture. In a subsequent stewards report, she was said to have ran very green. 82

        Ahaziah went into the race a maiden after ten starts, representing a yard without a winner from three horses in the sphere. An Alhebayeb x Owington cross, he is not related to any jumpers with discernible form. Racing in the rear, Ahaziah skewed over the first and third, steadied when getting in close to the fourth and was steady again at the penultimate flight in the process of finishing well beaten. There is little enthusiasm to be had over his immediate prospects. 88

        Sweet Will represented a good stable in the sphere but was tailed off on his hurdling debut at Sligo and it was the same case here. Though untidy at the first, he put in a decent round thereafter but he never left the rear of the field. He was the subject of a stewards report after the race where it was revealed by the veterinary officer that he had an overreach on his left fore and was found clinically abnormal. 84

        Urban Boom came into his hurdling debut at Sligo on the back of a sequence of duck eggs before jumping poorly in the rear and tailing off. Slightly more use of him was made in midfield on this occasion but after being badly hampered at the first, his round was littered with mistakes and he once again finished tailed off. 73

        Finsceal Blue has now had three runs over hurdles, jumping poorly in the rear before tailing off on each occasion. This was perhaps his best round, but it still included three notable errors. 17

        Craic Eile achieved nothing in all but one of his seven starts on the flat, but while he was well beaten on his hurdling debut at Punchestown, his jumping was fairly impressive. His jumping was not quite as good next time at Galway where he tired late on, but apart from diving at the first, he did jump quite spectacularly from the front here. There was some air between himself and his hurdles through the first half of the race, but he was also quick in the process and he got neater as the race progressed. He kept his lead until the approach to the penultimate flight where he did not take off quickly enough, tripping over the hurdle and leaving his jockey with no chance of retaining the partnership. He looked vulnerable at the time and lost five positions while galloping loose suggesting he would most likely have been ran out of the finish in any case. Talk of a chasing career is premature and whimsical, but if he can develop his stamina then it is not too difficult to envisage him faring respectably in that discipline should the opportunity present itself. 105

        Preview review
        The first three places were filled by those in the top four prospects, although there were a couple of cases of over and underestimation. Red Missile ran a fine enough race and improved a fair deal on his debut, although he has yet to match his outstanding piece of flat form which itself was a fair deal better than anything he had previously achieved. Breguet Boy had fine credentials going into the contest but too much emphasis was put on jockey bookings, especially as he was much the best backed of the stable's runners.

        Race review
        The race looked fairly ordinary beforehand and while the front two are not outstanding sorts, they pulled clear of a strung out field and had every reason to do so. The pace was a sound one without being too searching as the front three raced prominently throughout and the winning time was the slowest of four races at the distance on the card. Nevertheless, the finish was fought out between two newcomers rated in the mid-high seventies on the flat and there is no reason why neither can progress from here.

        Breguet Boy won three races on the flat at distances around a mile, and came into this contest with rating of 77. He had a tendency to look around on the flat which was repeated here, but it had no ill effect on his hurdling as he put up a tidy round. Tracking the leader throughout, he went into the lead at the penultimate flight. He wandered on the approach to the last where he made his only real mistake of the race, going through the top of the flight. Though he was slow in getting away, he soon regained his stride and knuckled down the better of the front pair in a battle to the line. Though he may be fairly exposed after fifteen races on the flat, he is nothing if not consistent and ran close to his best flat mark here. He may lack the scope of the runner-up, but he is a game and likable horse who also provided his sire with his first winner in the sphere. 113

        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 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. It would be fair at this stage to excuse the defeat on the basis of his inexperience and he could be a nice recruit to the jumping game. 112

        Red Missile's last flat run for William Haggas saw him earn an RPR of 89, which looks fully justified in retrospect. However, some greenness on his hurdling debut at Perth saw him nowhere near to that level, even if it was not a bad outing in isolation. With the cheekpieces reapplied from his Lingfield win, Red Missile jumped much better from the front and he kept his lead up to the penultimate flight where he made his first slight error of the race. He was also low going through a couple of panels at the last but was a beaten horse by that stage. This was an improvement on his Perth outing and he is capable of being competitive at this level. However, his best flat form is looking like an anomaly and he did sweat up before racing quite keen here so he does have questions to answer. 105

        Jack Ryan won on his penultimate flat outing over seven furlongs on heavy ground, and made a respectable hurdling debut here. 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. Beaten nearly twelve lengths in the end, his performance was about as good as anything he achieved on the flat and he could be seen to better effect on softer ground. 101

        Brodick was rated just 55 after eight runs on the flat for Karl Burke and while her sirelines are conducive to some success in the sphere, she did not particularly well first time over hurdles. After she skewed at the second, dived at the third and was big over the fourth, her jumping was fine up to two out where she landed steeply. Beaten just over twenty lengths, she can build on the effort but is not of obvious interest in the near future. 85

        Nuriel was having his second racecourse appearance following a lacklustre effort at Ludlow four weeks earlier. His jumping was better on this occasion but was still awkward at a few of his hurdles. He is moving in the right direction but needs to find more before he becomes competitive. 90

        Park Lane Dancer finished third on his hurdles debut at Sedgefield in what was a poor looking race at the time. He did not jump quite as well here but though he was well beaten in the end, it was not a drastic regression. There is no reason why he can not make an impact in lesser company but he may be better served with a handicap mark. 89

        Clay Regazzoni opened in the ring at the same price as his winning stablemate but was over four points adrift at the off. The worst of those who raced prominently, he was keen early and his round was marked by awkward jumping and a tendency to wander into the approaches before culminating with a blunder at the last. He finished closer to the winner than he had on his debut but was still comprehensively beaten and unless he is given an especially generous mark, may find more success returning to the flat. 88

        Castle View never made it past the starting stalls on two previous racecourse visits and made mistakes at all of his hurdle here before finishing tailed off. 1


        • SEDGEFIELD
          Preview review
          Prior to the running of this race, Sedgefield had seen the defeat of three juveniles who started at odds shorter than 1/2 while also being the site of Geyser's 80/1 success last season. Nevertheless, while Glorious Zoff gained membership to a dubious club, Sedgefield is not a notorious graveyard of odds-on favourites as it ranks in the middle of courses by percentage of beaten odds-on shots. Nevertheless, Glorious Zoff had every right to win this race based on his Sligo performance and went 1.01 in-running to do so. His underperformance can be explained by much poorer jumping and a possible overestimation of his Sligo form. The ground was also a potential factor as while it was yielding at Sligo, the good to soft, soft in places may not have suited him. Conversely, it will have suited the stoutly bred winner who had disappointed on his debut at Perth.

          Race review
          Despite having two previous course and distance winners in the line-up, the race looked like a formality for Irish raider Glorious Zoff. However, a series of jumping errors took their toll and while he looked like he had the race sewn up for much of the straight, he was clawed back by a winner who had been pulled up on his only previous start in the UK. The pace was not particularly strong and none of the runners put in a particularly fluent round. The first four were clearly better than the remainder but half of them underperforming, and the other half posting efforts that were a career best by some margin, the form does not have the most reliable appearance.

          Le Magnifique ran three times on the flat for Andreas Wohler, finishing down the field in a German maiden behind a couple of participants in their version of the Derby on his latest start in the sphere. He was backed into joint-favouritism ahead of his UK/hurdles debut at Perth but though he moved from midfield to lead at halfway, he soon tired before being pulled up. He ran and jumped green on that occasion but he travelled better here in a first time hood and was clearly fitter for the outing. There was no improvement in his hurdling however as apart from jumping the first fine, he made mistakes at the rest of his obstacles. These errors generally came through getting too close to his hurdles, including at the last where he pecked on landing and appeared to lose any chance of springing an upset. Nevertheless, he was able to straighten himself out and stayed on stoutly to grind out a win close to the line. A turnover of this nature should be treated with scepticism and it is fair to assume that the favourite was not at his best here. Notwithstanding, Le Magnifique did demonstrate a willing attitude, went through the ground well enough, and the remaining rivals have less in the way of excuses so it would be unwise to be too dismissive of this performance. An unexposed sort who is bred to do better over further, he ought to have a nice future over jumps. 114

          Glorious Zoff was not much better than a fairly useful maiden on the flat for Charlie Hills, but he looked to have a touch of class about him when making a winning hurdling debut at Sligo. While it was only a maiden contest, a few of his rivals had reasonable form to their names and Glorious Zoff dispatched of them with impetuous ease. His jumping was not always perfect but in the absence of fluency was intelligence. However, his round here was a 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 is a factor which will be a problem in the future if he expends more energy than necessary at his hurdles. Ultimately, this performance does smudge the veneer of his reputation and while he is clearly much better than this, a top class horse should be overcome the pitfalls offered by Sedgefield. 120

          Gold Desert won over course and distance on his hurdles debut and though he won a poor race by just a length, the 71 rated ex-Richard Hannon inmate looked sure to improve for the experience. Racing prominently throughout, he took up the running midway down the back and while he was outpaced turning for home, he was still able to stay on in the straight. As with his debut, his jumping was largely fine but for slightly skewing at the first, getting low at the third, being awkward at the sixth and hopping over two out. His sirelines suggest he can do better in this discipline and this performance marks a new career best for the son of Mastercraftsman. While he looks not much better than average, he should continue to progress. 118

          Genever Dragon was another who won his hurdling debut over course and distance, and while the race he won was no better than average, it still looked much better than the one taken by Gold Desert. However, while he jumped and travelled well on his debut, he was pulling hard early on and got in close to a few hurdles before clipping the top of the last. Though still in tough with the leaders at three out, he soon lost touch with them turning for home and would eventually finish twenty lengths behind the third. Given to inconsistency on the flat, he was a stone below his best on this showing and while he is capable of better, he is not a safe conveyance to reproduce same. 96

          Fast Deal finished just behind stablemate Camahawk when last on his hurdles debut at Wetherby, but was able to reverse placings here. Nevertheless, while he jumped the first few obstacles fine from the rear, he was slow and awkward in the middle stages and would lose touch before finishing tailed off. While this is an improvement on bare form, it still leaves plenty to be desired. 80

          Camahawk put in a reasonable round at Wetherby but after a blunder at the second, he was big over the third and got in close to the next. From there, he lost his position in midfield and weakened to finish tailed off. 78

          Douglas Fir's three hurdles outings have all come at this venue, and has improved on each occasion. Sent into the lead from the outset, he steadied going into the first despite his rider's urgings and did so again approaching the third. He lost his position halfway through the race and eventually finished seventy-four lengths behind the winner. 40

          Preview review
          A couple of items warrant addressing after this race, namely the overestimation of Fiscal Prudence and the underestimation of Adagio. Fiscal Prudence underachieved primarily because he was ridiculously fresh on his first outing in over a year. This might not be as much of a problem for a more experienced horse, and indeed, the trainer had a good record with this type. However, no juvenile hurdler has won after an absence of more than a year since the 2012/13 season. This is not from a shallow pool either as 39 three-year-olds and 30 four-year-olds have attempted to overcome this absence during this time. In the case of Adagio, his prospects were shirked largely due to his being bought out of a French claimer. Research has demonstrated that such horses have shown a propensity to improve considerably for experience - particularly when handicap marks enter the equation. Nevertheless, the sample size is still relatively small and French imports from the flat have won first time, albeit not those out of claimers. It was pointed out prior to the race on RTV that Adagio's new owners were some of the bigger names associated with the yard, although given that ownership of the horse was publicly offered after he joined the stable, the relevance of this information is flimsy as he was not a bought to order type.

          Race review
          All bar one of the eight runners were making their hurdling debuts but a couple of the newcomers had the potential to be fairly useful recruits. In keeping with the lack of experience, a lot of the jumping on display was very erratic which would put a dent in the overall quality of form. The slow early tempo caused several runners to take a keen hold in the early stages and the winning time was an understandable seven seconds slower then the Class 4 handicap later on the card - although it was still quicker than the concluding bumper. The front three finishing as they did looks fairly reliable but the composition of a slowly run race at Warwick on good ground is not readily replicated on other courses during the winter.

          Adagio came into the race on the back of an eight length win in a Clairefontaine claimer in the middle of August, following which he was claimed for €25,555. While it was not a polished round of hurdling first time out, he ran out a comfortable winner by a similar margin. Jumping right at the first, he was far from fluent at the second where he also found himself hampered by the faller. Nevertheless, he improved over the next few hurdles and though he was big over the fifth, he was also quick getting from one side to the other. While he took a narrow lead approaching the penultimate flight, his hurdling did deteriorate in the straight as he did not get high two out and made an almighty blunder at the last which also saw him slip on landing and lose momentum. Nevertheless, the runner-up was also untidy at the same flight and Adagio was soon able to establish an ever widening gap to the line. The negatives of the performance lie primarily in the jumping department but given that he also put in a few good jumps, this should not be a long term issue. In terms of positives, he won well from a couple of potentially useful sorts and while his pedigree is not inundated with plodders, it is stout enough to suggest that he may be seen to even better effect with more cut. Especially given that his Clairefontaine win came on heavy ground. The 50/1 available for the Triumph Hurdle makes little appeal at this juncture as the best RPR achieved by an ex-French claimer since 2008/09 was Bocamix's 123 during the 2009/10 campaign. Nevertheless, there was plenty of encouragement to be drawn from this outing and Adagio could make up into a fairly useful prospect. 117

          Duke Of Condicote brought a flat rating of 79 into this contest which was the highest in the field earned in the UK. Since winning a Haydock handicap on his seasonal reappearance, he twice finished runner-up during his next three outings and it was that position which he filled again on his hurdling debut. Though he is by No Nay Never, his ability to stay the minimum trip over hurdles was not a concern beforehand and he has performed on both good and soft ground. His round got off to the most inauspicious start however as he veered very badly right at the first, during which Tom Cannon displayed a remarkable feat of strength to retain the partnership. He was then slow at the second there was some improvement thereafter as he went into the lead. This lead was lost approaching two out and though his errors in the straight were not catastrophic, they did not do his cause any favours. Nevertheless, the winner's errors were much worse and he was unable to match his victor for pace at the business end of the contest. Alan King is one of the preeminent trainers in the division but he has been slow to get off the mark during this campaign. Duke Of Condicote has provided the stable's best result in the division thus far and given that he is able to make his own running, he should be capable of collecting an ordinary prize. 110

          Lustleigh was the only horse with hurdling experience coming into the race, although as this was only his second racecourse appearance, he was still the least experienced runner in this line-up. Another who took a keen hold, he was ridden more patiently than at Wetherby, tucking in behind the leaders. There was improvement in his jumping as the only flaws were that he was slow getting away from two out and just clipped the top of the final flight. However, he was readily outpaced by the two principles and almost lost third on the line. Bred to make a proper jumper, Lustleigh is more a long term prospect than a juvenile hurdler and though he is capable of being competitive in ordinary company, he might make more of an impact with a season under his belt. 93

          Grouseman achieved a rating of just 50 after seven runs on the flat and being by Kyllachy offers little encouragement for his new vocation. He suffered interference at the second and third but apart from getting close to the first and fourth flights of hurdles, his jumping was not too bad. Staying on from a long way behind, he failed by only a neck in his attempt to grab third on the line. This performance matches the best of his flat form and was not entirely without merit, although he would still have enough to find in anything but moderate company. 92

          Fact Or Fable failed to win in twenty-five starts on the flat and made several mistakes on his hurdling debut. Never progressing from the rear of the field, he was beaten by over thirty-four lengths and does not look an obvious improver. 82

          Galidermes won three times on the flat in the French provinces but was claimed last time for just €6,001. Making errors at most of his hurdles, he was another who was never able to get on terms and he makes little appeal for the immediate future. 72

          Fiscal Prudence ran with some promise in two maidens at the Curragh as a two-year-old, and joined a yard with a very good record in the sphere. However, he was remarkably fresh in the early stages 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 freshness but he was not completely novicey. He has a respectable profile overall, but a better assessment of his prospects can only be made if he settles better next time. 60

          Camacho Man has some useful relatives in his pedigree but his flat form is modest and his hurdling debut was not an encouraging one. Going big, slow and to the right over the first, his race ended at the second where he steadied into the flight, clipped the top and knuckled on landing before falling. His jumping was no better without the burden of a jockey as he was big, hesitant and awkward while running loose. 0

          Peat Moss 6/11/2020 Warwick 2m Handicap Hurdle
          Third in the season's curtain raiser behind Hiconic, Peat Moss would win on the third time of asking at Plumpton and was vying for favouritism on his handicap debut at Ludlow last time. However, he disappointed there and was sent off an unfancied 20/1 on this occasion in first time blinkers. Sweating before the off and keen early on, he jumped well for the most part with his only real mistake coming at the last where he was unable to get his feet far off the ground. He was rousted along midway through the back straight and drifted to the back of the main bunch. Nevertheless, he was able to stay on for a one paced fourth, beaten by just over sixteen lengths. Strictly on times, he would have won the opening juvenile hurdle but that race was not run at a true gallop. It was not a poor performance, particularly as his yard has been out of form recently. However, his mark of 105 is too high for the minimum trip and he may fare better going up in distance. 95


          • There’s been some outstanding stuff put in here by Kotkijet over the past few weeks but with the big juvenile heat at Cheltenham this Saturday I think we can start to piece together what we’ve learnt so far.
            Very much looking forward to Kotkijets preview...


            • Originally posted by Istabraq View Post
              There’s been some outstanding stuff put in here by Kotkijet over the past few weeks but with the big juvenile heat at Cheltenham this Saturday I think we can start to piece together what we’ve learnt so far.
              Very much looking forward to Kotkijets preview...
              I don't fully understand the likes and orange notches with silly sentences that are appearing to do with 'reputation' - but I urge people to like the quality posts on here where they I'm sure that's the point.

              Posts in this thread are a prime example


              • Originally posted by Istabraq View Post
                There’s been some outstanding stuff put in here by Kotkijet over the past few weeks but with the big juvenile heat at Cheltenham this Saturday I think we can start to piece together what we’ve learnt so far.
                Very much looking forward to Kotkijets preview...
                Cheers Istabraq! I too am looking forward to my preview to Saturday's race. However, there is still the not insubstantial matter of Bangor-on-Dee to deal with first. While I have not had a proper look at the Cheltenham extravaganza, at this stage I would say that Overpriced Mixer would be better off going to Ludlow instead...

                Originally posted by Kevloaf View Post

                I don't fully understand the likes and orange notches with silly sentences that are appearing to do with 'reputation' - but I urge people to like the quality posts on here where they I'm sure that's the point.

                Posts in this thread are a prime example
                Nice one Kev! Seems quite fitting that Badreputation is set to make his hurdling debut at this very exciting upcoming race at Bangor...

                Bangor hosts its second juvenile of the season on Wednesday and while the venue does not have a grandstand, this race does have a pretty decent history. The last two winners, Nelson River in 2018 and Navajo Pass in 2019, each placed fourth in their Triumph hurdles while 2010 winner March Warbler followed up in the Finale Hurdle the next month at Chepstow. This year's renewal looks unlikely to produce any Grade 1 horses and while the Williams newcomer could be something, it looks like the proverbial penalty kick for Pyramid Place on all known form. Last week's turnover of Glorious Zoff reminded us that there are no certainties in the division and Bangor has seen ten beaten odds on favourites since 2008/09 including Sirop de Menthe at 2/5 in 2013 and Black Jacari in the 2008 renewal of this race at 1/2. A sharp track with only minor undulations, Bangor's average winning DIs of 1.29 median and 1.48 mean are on the high side of average. However, with the going currently forecast as soft, heavy in places, Wednesday's race could take more getting than usual. The completion rate of 94.85% is the fourth lowest in the UK, placing just ahead of Lingfield.

                Admiral Balko bbg Mrs Jane Williams Unraced
                Balko (Davidoff){5-e}(0.50) 1/0 Singaminnie 6th Prix de Beaune (Listed), Enghien 2015
                The George Nympton yard has a long history of introducing juvenile hurdlers without racecourse experience including Reve de Sivola, Me Voici and Pistolet Noir. Three such horses also won first time out in Diable de Sivola, Montestrel and James de Vassy. This season, four of these have been introduced, but only the twice placed Balko Saint has cut much French mustard. Admiral Balko is the latest release and his pedigree is fairly standard for his type. Sire Balko has produced winning juveniles in the UK and Ireland such as Blacko, Gitane du Berlais and Ubaltique but while his figures are very respectable, his progeny generally progress with age. Admiral Balko's dam did run as a three-year-old, but would gain her only win as an Autumn four-year-old. Nevertheless, her full-sister Singaprima achieved her best as in a four-year-old handicap during the Spring. The Williams yard has a fair record with juveniles at Bangor with two wins and two seconds from six runners and Admiral Balko will be the stable's sole representative so he could pose a tangible threat to the favourite. Incidentally, this will be Ciaran Gethings' first ride in the division this season and he is a genuinely nice lad so may he have a safe and enjoyable ride.

                Badreputation bg Dave Roberts 4-0-0 (51) 52
                Iffraaj (Echo Of Light){4-k}(1.67) 2/1 Caracal 2nd Juvenile Maiden Hurdle, Ludlow 2010
                One of two newcomers from the flat, Badreputation ran twice at Kempton for Marco Botti before fetching 2,000 guineas at the Tattersalls July Sale. From there, he joined Dave Roberts to finish over fourteen lengths ninth in a Chepstow maiden before finishing completely tailed off at Southwell on his handicap debut. Iffraaj has had four winning juveniles from twenty-eight and Badreputation's dam is a half-sister to Caracal who finished runner up in a poor juvenile maiden back in 2010.

                Nuriel bg Oliver Greenall j2-0-0 (-) 82 90
                Nutan (Lavirco){8-f}(0.67) 2/1 Noble Hawk 1st 4yo Hurdle, Strasbourg 2006
                Nuriel made his racecourse debut at Ludlow but was unfancied before a lacklustre effort. He returned last week to finish a twenty-three length sixth of nine at Musselburgh where his jumping was sometimes awkward but better than at Ludlow. It was a move in the right direction and while he still needs to find further improvement, he is bred to enjoy the softer ground here and should not be starting at 150/1 as he did last time out.

                Pyramid Place bg Milton Harris f4-0-0 (69) 66 j1-0-1 (-) 97 107
                Authorized (Zafonic){20-a}(0.81) 0.5 Jukebox Blues Pulled up sole hurdles run.
                Pyramid Place did not reach the frame in four starts for John Gosden during the winter, but he was a consistent animal who ran to a fair level and subsequently sold for 27,000 guineas at the Tattersalls August sale. Horses who leave the Gosden yard rarely do well in juvenile hurdles, but he with seven months to physically develop, he made a fine start in his new vocation at Lingfield last time. Keen early and held up in the rear, he had a tendency to jump to his left and like the winner, was none too fluent in the straight. He made slow and steady headway along the back and got to within five lengths of the winner at the last. He did not get away from it quickly and took time to find his stride on the run-in. Ultimately, he only failed by a short head, but given his freshness and lack of fitness or experience, he has every chance of improving considerably on that performance. Even though his yard is not in the best of form at the moment, the son of Authorized should still be difficult to beat given his superiority on both codes.

                Sure I'm Your Man bg Jennie Candlish f6-0-0 (55) 64
                Sea The Moon (Dalakhani){9-c}(0.33) 2/1 Tugboat 1st Novice Hurdle, Galway 2012
                A five race maiden on the flat for Roger Charlton, Sure I'm Your Man had his wind done ahead of his first run for Jennie Candlish where he beat just one home in a Newcastle handicap after attempting to make all. Former Beckhampton residents have a reasonable winners to runners rate of 23.08% but only five of eighteen qualifiers improved for the switch between codes. Sea The Moon had a fine first season in the sphere with three winners (Allmankind, Must See The Doc and Gealach) from seven runners, although they were all rated upwards of a stone higher than Sure I'm Your Man on the flat. Dalakhani is a respectable damsire in the division and as well as being a half-brother to two winning hurdlers, the damline also features Tugboat (2/1), Rigidity (3/3) and underrated juvenile stallion Dragon Dancer (3/3). The trainer has an average record in the discipline although her latest runner, Camacho Man, did not jump well on his hurdling debut at Warwick last week. While there are questions to answer insofar as flat form is concerned, Sure I'm Your Man's profile is one of the more substantial overall in this field.

                The Imposter bg Nigel Hawke f1-0-0 (-) 51 j1-0-0 (-) 44 57
                Authorized (Bertolini){20-a}(0.88) 2/1 Currahee 1st Handicap Hurdle (104), Cartmel 2009
                The Imposter represents a top sire in Authorized and a yard which has done well in the sphere this season. However, he has shown little on his two outings to date which both occurred at Chepstow. Firstly on the flat in September when beaten fifteen lengths in a maiden, and again a month later where he was completely tailed off behind Hell Red. His jumping was not too bad and he may improve for the cut in the ground so while he has plenty to find, some improvement is feasible.

                Strong prospects
                1. Pyramid Place
                Reasonable prospects
                2. Admiral Balko
                Feasible prospects
                3. Nuriel
                Moderate prospects
                4. The Imposter
                5. Sure I'm Your Man
                Negligible prospects
                6. Badreputation


                • There have been seventy winning juvenile hurdlers at Ludlow since 2008/09, and their median seasonal RPR of 118 is almost precisely average in the UK and Ireland. Thursday's contest, which will be the second of the season, has been held every year since 2012 and with the RPR being 125, it is generally one of the stronger contests held at the venue. The 2014 renewal produced the first and fourth of that season's Anniversary Hurdle, although they would be the only Grade 1 horses to emerge from the race. Thursday's race could be quite useful however as it is set to feature three hurdles winners and a pair of flat recruits rated around the eighty mark. While the contest has increased class demands, the course's stamina and jumping requirements are a little less demanding as Ludlow is in the top third of racecourses for average winning DIs and clear round rates.

                  Naizagai bg Fergal O'Brien 5-0-4 (76) 78 j2-1-1 (117) 114 120
                  Dark Angel (Galileo){9-b}(0.90) 3/1 Oxymeron 1st Handicap Hurdle, Lingfield 1990
                  Placed in the first three on all bar one of his flat starts for Roger Varian, Naizagai sold for 40,000 guineas at the Tattersalls July sale. A few weeks later, he made a good impression when winning on his hurdling debut at Cartmel, making all and winning by upwards of five lengths. There were two subsequent winners in behind although there were reasons for their underperformances on the day. Following wind surgery and a break of seventy days, Naizagai returned at Uttoxeter where he once again attempted to make all. However, he made errors at most of his hurdles and was headed approaching the penultimate flight before being beaten by almost fifteen lengths. The winner of the race was since third in the Wensleydale so the form has some credence. However, although he may improve for the run after a wind operation, he also hung and jumped right which was not prevalent at Cartmel. While this quirk might not be a hindrance at Ludlow, that it is a new trait is still a concern. His best form gives him a every chance in this field and if he is unable to get an uncontested lead, he has shown on the flat that he is adept at sitting behind the pace. However, there are a couple of physiological fragilities which temper confidence.

                  Overpriced Mixer bg Nicky Henderson f6-2-2 (78) 78 j1-1-0 (-) 110 111
                  Harbour Watch (Daylami){21-a}(1.40) 4/2 Mike Quercus 1st Claiming Hurdle, Cagnes-Sur-Mer 2014
                  Nicky Henderson is one of the outstanding trainers in the division, and his winners to runners rate of 60.92% along with 74.71% of his juveniles achieving RPRs exceeding 107 are figures of the highest calibre. He does not usually send out his better juveniles before Christmas and over the previous twelve seasons, the master of Seven Barrows only twice had his first winning juvenile before October. Indeed, during that period, three of his first winners came in November, five in December and in 2009/10, Nicky Henderson had to wait until the 27th of February. Overpriced Mixer went against the grain somewhat when making a winning hurdling debut at Kempton twenty-five days ago. This can be construed as a positive due to his exceeding expectations, or a negative due to his being sent out so early. While a win of any nature will be a positive to some degree, it might be telling that the trainer has chosen to run his charge at Ludlow instead of Saturday's Grade 2 at Cheltenham which he won with Royal Irish Hussar in 2013, and Apple's Shakira three years later. Selling for ?90,000 after two wins for Jamie Osborne last year, Overpriced Mixer was poor on his sole flat run for his new yard at the end of August, but was fairly impressive at Kempton where he was the best jumper in the field. His round was not error free as he made slight mistakes along the way before veering so badly left at the last that Nico de Boinville had to finish the race without stirrups. It did not look like a strong renewal and with his main market rival (a next time out winner at Wincanton) badly underperforming, the race took little winning. Nevertheless, while Overpriced Mixer looks unlikely to be top-class, he won his Kempton race better than the margin suggests and with scope for further improvement, is entitled to respect under a penalty.

                  Asharann bg Oliver Greenall f6-1-1 FrF (80.3) 73 j1-0-0 (-) 73 70
                  Zoffany (Linamix){16-a}(0.87) 0.5 Ashutor 1st Handicap Chase (132), Fontwell 2020
                  Asharann went into his Huntingdon debut with the strongest flat form in the field, although that form had begun to regress and he had a tendency to pull hard in his races ,and he left Jean-Claude Rouget for €9,000. Drifting in the market prior to the off, he pulled hard once again and while he was badly hampered at the fourth, that incident would not have been the decicive factor in his finishing tailed off. His jumping was reasonable save for a couple of minor errors and he was not given a harsh ride once it was clear he was not on a going day. Furthermore, the yard's juveniles typically improve from their debuts, sire Zoffany has had two winning juveniles this term and Asharann's damline includes fair jumpers Ahutor (0.5), Chaptal (2/2) and Kazlian (5/3). As such, while there are still questions to answer, his profile is a decent one and if some freshness was ran out of him last time, his is not a hopeless case.

                  Can't Stop Now chg Chris Gordon f6-0-2 (73) 74 j1-0-1 (-) 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 (the hood is reapplied), there could be a strong pace here and his stamina is not assured either on breeding or on his flat form.

                  Carlofantastico bg Steph Hollinshead f1-0-0 (-) 40
                  Roderic O'Connor (Henrythenavigator){4-g}(3.57) 2/1 Eight And Bob 1st Handicap Hurdle (B,127), Gowran Park 2019
                  Costing 800 guineas as a yearling and gelded soon after turning two-years-old, Carlofantastico did not see a racecourse until the middle of September where he was a twenty-one length last of seven in a Chester novice stakes over an extended ten furlongs. Speaking of twenty-one, that is also the number of national hunt runners the trainer has saddled during her career without any of them reaching the first three. Roderic O'Connor has had a couple of winners in the sphere but his improvement rate is just 14.29%. The damline includes useful sorts Eight And Bob (2/1) and Nando (2/2) although members of family 4-g tend to perform better with a lower dosage index.

                  Lord P bg Fergal O'Brien f7-2-0 (66) 69
                  Brazen Beau (Barathea){13-c}(1.67) 2/1 Pepperwood 1st Conditions Hurdle, Down Royal 2005
                  A stablemate of Naizagai, Lord P won twice in the space of a week during the winter for Richard Hannon, with both wins coming over six furlongs in Class 6 handicaps. Fergal O'Brien's overall record in the division has improved with this season's exploits although only a sixth of former inmates of the Hannon yard make winning juveniles. Neither sire Brazen Beau, or his sire I Am Invincible, have had any runners in the sphere although the line is not a good source of stamina on the flat. Barathea is a fairly prolific damsire but his overall figures are below average and the damline is short on jumpers apart from the dam being a half-sister to a winning hurdler. Lord P's flat form would be reasonable in a more ordinary affair, but in conjunction with his patchy profile, he is left with something to find in this company.

                  Mr Shady grg J S Moore f18-1-5 (63) 72
                  Elzaam (Definite Article){4-i}(2.00) 3/1 Fontaine Fables 1st Novice Hurdle, Fairyhouse 1996
                  Though Mr Shady has spent his entire career under the care of Stan Moore, fourteen of his eighteen flat starts were either at Deauville or Lingfield. He collected a ten furlong handicap at the latter venue in January off 66 and finished in the third three on half of his next six outings. However, in four runs since mid July (three of which were in France), he has finished towards the back of the field and his mark has dropped to 63. Two of Elzaam's seven juveniles have been winners and both the dam and granddam are half-sisters to winners over jumps. However, it has been fifteen years since the stable has sent out any winner when obstacles are involved and even the most optimistic appraisal of Mr Shady's profile leave him short against these rivals.

                  Numberoneson bc Harry Whittington f5-1-1 (81) 78
                  Camelot (Gone West){4-j}(1.38) 3/4 La Limagne 1st Prix Tanerko (HcH), Auteuil 2018
                  Numberoneson ran five times on the flat for Joseph O'Brien, winning a good ground ten furlong Leopardstown handicap on his final outing. Travelling best turning into the straight, he took a while to go through a gap, but while his head carriage was fairy high, he was able to grind down the leader to get his head in front in the final strides. The runner-up justified favouritism next time in a maiden, but while Gordon Elliott's twice placed hurdler Sideshift was further down the field, most of the subsequent form has been substandard. Good ground and a tongue strap were attributed to the improved showing, but while the former will be in place tomorrow, the latter has been removed. Numberoneson fetched 22,000 guineas when passing the Tattersalls ring in August, and has joined a yard with a fine record in the discipline. Harry Whittington has a decent 40% winners to runners ratio, and his 66.67% improvement rate is in the top ten for trainers with ten or more qualifiers. Behind Zanzi Win, a winner last April, Numberoneson will be the yard's highest rated juvenile recruit and Camelot's first two crops included Sir Erec and Gardens Of Babylon. The immediate damline is without notable hurdlers but La Limange (3/4) and Flaxen Flare (5/4) do appear on the extended branch. The yard has already had a first time out winner this season in See The Eagle Fly and one of its two Ludlow winners, Bishop Wulstan, was also a winning hurdles debutant. Numberoneson's being an entire is not optimal and neither was his high head carriage when winning last time. But there are still enough positives sufficient to make him an interesting contender here.

                  State Crown chg Evan Williams f3-0-2 (78) 79
                  New Approach (Dubawi){10-a}(0.75) No jumps relatives
                  The second flat recruit with a decent rating, State Crown was slightly more expensive than Numberoneson as he sold for ?24,000 at the Goffs September sale. Running three times without winning on the flat for Charlie Appleby, he achieved a similar standard of form on each occasion. Habitually a front-runner, he was too free for his own good on his latest outing at Windsor in a Class 4 handicap over a trip just short of twelve furlongs. The form has effectively been sustained by the first placed horse, while State Crown split a pair of subsequent winners - albeit one springing a 50/1 upset and another taking a seller. Evan Williams historically has a decent record in the sphere, although having switched his focus from the summer game to the winter campaign, he has had only one winning juvenile in forty-five runs since Silver Streak scored in March 2017. Furthermore, his improvement rate stands at just 37.84% and while he has saddled four winning juveniles at Ludlow since 2008/09, this has been from thirty-four attempts. New Approach is a respectable stallion in the discipline with a winners to runners rate of 35.29%, but again the improvement rate is less impressive at 28.57% and there are no notable jumpers to be found on the damline. There are plenty of positives in State Crown's profile, although they are all tempered one way or another.

                  Theocrat bg Nigel Hawke f4-0-0 (65) 64 j1-0-0 (-) 87 100
                  Teofilo (New Approach){8-f}(0.52) 1/1 Novus Aditus 5th Juvenile Hurdle, Taunton 2019
                  Theocrat's flat form had been fair at best in four outings during July and August, but his hurdles debut at this venue five weeks ago was not without promise. He was keen early on, was big at the third and slow at the sixth. Nevertheless, while he was a one paced fourth, he was not beaten far and the front two upheld the form next time at Huntingdon. Theocrat's prospects are not negligible, but he has a fair amount to find in this company and may be better served with more time to develop.

                  Talking About You bf Sean Curran f6-0-1 (60) 60 j6-1-3 (100) 95 105
                  Sixties Icon (Mastercraftsman){9-h}(0.50) 3/1 Princess Caerani 2nd Mares' Maiden Hurdle, Ludlow 2014
                  The most experienced hurdler in this field by far, Talking About You has been a consistent, if not entirely straightforward sort since starting her new career. She disappointed on her penultimate outing at Fontwell, where she gained her only victory back in September, but given a wind operation and a short break before her return at Fakenham a fortnight ago. Going into her preferred uncontested lead, which she is unlikely to enjoy here, she got close to the first but was good over the next few which is a definite sign of encouragement. However, she would flatten a few hurdles on the final circuit and though she led up to the home turn, faded into fourth by the line. Talking About You still ran reasonably well under her penalty but unless she can learn to settle better, there appear to be few feasible options for her to double her tally.

                  Strong prospects
                  1. Numberoneson
                  Reasonable prospects
                  2. Overpriced Mixer
                  3. Naizagai
                  Feasible prospects
                  4. Asharann
                  5. State Crown
                  6. Theocrat
                  Moderate prospects
                  7. Talking About You
                  8. Can't Stop Now
                  9. Lord P
                  Negligible prospects
                  10. Mr Shady
                  11. Carlofantastico


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

                    Poker Master 10/11/2020 Huntingdon 2m4?f Handicap Hurdle
                    Poker Master had finished well beaten on his first two outings over hurdles, but left that form well behind on his latest outing at Sedgefield when second to Gold Desert. While the winner ran with credit next time, the third was subsequently disappointing and the race did not look great in any case. His rating ahead of his handicap debut looked reasonable without being generous and there were stamina concerns going into the race. Poker Master opened as one of the favourites on the evening prior but had drifted out to 11/1 by the off. Racing wide and settling in midfield, he jumped well with the only mistake coming at the third where he was close and untidy. He managed to get in touch with the leaders but was one paced from the straight and ultimately finished fifth of the nine finishers. It would have been sixth of ten but for a late faller but while the winner won easily, he was still only three lengths behind the second. With the winning time some ten seconds quicker than the first division, the stamina concerns might have been resolved. While he is not a well handicapped horse, it was a creditable performance and based on his aptitude here, he can at least maintain this standard. 90

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


                    • I scrolled so fast to the bottom as soon as I read 'Hell Red' then hoping he was a strong prospect. Didn't even read to the point where you said the preview isn't done yet.

                      What a rush of excitement that was. Adrenaline was pumping through my middle finger as the mouse wheel went clicking through the gears....

                      An under-current of sadness coursing through my soul now. Roll on Saturday morning


                      • Kev is there a way to like a thread rather than just posts ? I am being lazy.

                        thanks k-jet


                        • Originally posted by mayo View Post
                          Kev is there a way to like a thread rather than just posts ? I am being lazy.

                          thanks k-jet
                          Haha, no! You lazy little condiment.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


                            • Excellent stuff Kotkijet, Hell Red it is.
                              Best wishes to you, hopefully the race can deliver and help your recovery...


                              • Nice one Istabraq. Apart from being a bit groggy and tired, I'm not doing too badly. Too soon to be getting complacent though, so just in case it decides to go buck wild ovenight, here's the preview for Punchestown.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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