On the evidence of Saturday’s Irish Champion Hurdle, Willie Mullins’ ten-year-old Faugheen is a light of former days and Buveur D’Air has shortened to 2/5 from 4/7 at BetVictor to retain his Champion Hurdle crown.
Min was an impressive winner of the Grade 2 Chase over two miles and was cut to 5/2 from 5/1 with BetVictor for the Champion Chase. We should not forget, however, that he was put in his place by Altior to the tune of seven lengths in the Supreme Novice Hurdle two years ago and we are likely to see the latter make a belated seasonal reappearance at Newbury on Saturday.
There is a precautionary inspection at 8am for today’s jumps card at Newcastle and if racing gets the green light Shee’s Lucky looks sure to go close given the form of her latest second was franked when the winner (Shambra) dotted up at Wetherby on Saturday. The vote, however, goes to Morning With Ivan (2.15) who was a running on third at Musselburgh at the weekend and this more galloping track should suit her down to the ground.
The column really should have had a couple of further winners over the weekend with Milly Baloo running out at the last with the race in safekeeping and Looking Well almost refusing and unseating his jockey at the last when a length up and going best in the Edinburgh National.
The trainer/jockey combination on both occasions were Nicky Richards and Ryan Day and it would be fair to say they are due a change of luck. Baywing must go close despite the steadier of 12st, but he is not the most fluent of jumpers and the handicapper has certainly given The Young Master (2.45) a chance and the booking of Noel Fehily takes the eye on the nine-year-old.
The selection would be something to bet on if the ground was better, but Neil Mulholland fits his charge with cheek-pieces for the first time and the return to a left-hand track will suit after he consistently jumped out to his left at Kempton on his latest start.
No inspection planned at Southwell but the ground will also be soft for their six-race card. The form of Get On The Yager’s Roland Meyrick success at Wetherby over Christmas was franked when the runner up Wakanda won the Skybet Chase last month and he will be a tough nut to crack. Two Swallows (2.00) receives 19lbs from the Dan Skelton runner, however, and her fencing improved as the race developed when she finished third in a Mares’ Listed contest at Newbury last time. The conditions of the race suit Ben Pauling’s mare who gets the vote in a decent contest.
Monbeg Oscar (3.00) steps back up in trip, having been done for a turn of foot at Ludlow last time at the minimum trip. The selection had previously failed to stay 3m at Sandown and this intermediate two-and-a-half mile trip looks ideal. Don Lami and Boreham Bill are big dangers in a fascinating Maiden Hurdle.
The latter was beaten less than ten lengths by subsequent Grade 2 winner Santini on his hurdles debut at Newbury back in December and jumped out to his left when a beaten favourite at Huntingdon last time. The return to a left-handed track will suit.
Trainer Robin Dickin nominated today’s mares’ only 3m handicap for Tara Well (4.35) after she scored at Leicester last time and a 6lbs rise looks fair. Miss Fleming steps up to three miles for the first-time and she looks the main danger for Tom and Noel George.
There is a terrific Conditions race at Wolverhampton and Tom Dascombe’s Arcanada (6.15) can confirm recent Lingfield running with Gabrial on 3lbs worse terms although this extended mile might bring the pair closer together. All four hold realistic chances but the local runner gets the nod.
Natch (7.15) was given far too much to do over C&D last time but was ultimately outclassed by a decent Goldolphin runner. A son of Nathaniel, the selection will get further than today’s nine-and-a-half-furlong trip but the hope is that Rab Havlin makes plenty of use of his charge this evening.