It did not look a vintage renewal of the Grade 1 Hatton’s Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse on Sunday but the mare Honeysuckle could not have been more impressive and she has halved in price for the Champion Hurdle (10s from 20/1) with BetVictor. Do note she could go down the mares’ option over 2m 5f for which she is 2/1 at BetVictor behind The Willie Mullins mare Benie Des Dieux who heads the market at 7/4.
There is an 8am inspection planned at Lingfield this morning – frost and possible freezing fog the problem – for their jumps card and if racing gets the green light, I hope to see Early Morning Rain (1.15) bounce back in these calmer waters having been outclassed at Newbury on Saturday. Today’s softer ground and drop in grade should suit Jamie Snowden’s five-year-old.
Pres made all to score here three weeks ago when his jumping was the decisive factor. If winning pointer Ballyart – who is allowed 3lbs for the 2l he was behind Pres last time – jumps with more fluency than he did here last time then he will reverse the placings, but that is a big if.
The vote, however, goes to Jonjo O’Neill’s The Manuscript (1.45) who ran well at Chepstow last time returning from a four-month break and is open to further improvement although he did show a slight tendency to jump out to his right in south Wales last time.
The combination of first time out and a 2m 5f trip could have counted against Imperial Acolyte (2.45) and he is taken to improve on that effort dropped back to an extended 2m 3f trip. The each way selection has been dropped 3lbs for the run and this will be his second start since having his wind operated on during the summer.
This time last year Shanahan’s Turn (3.15) was a beaten favourite in the Grand Sefton Chase over Aintree’s Grand national fences from a mark of 135. Fast forward 12 months and he is down to a mark 15lbs lower and is taken to build on his decent third at Chepstow last time – winner has since followed up – in the Veterans’ Chase. One note, he may not get an uncontested lead with Skipping On and Uhlan Bute – who both like to lead – in the field.
Nicky Henderson looks to have found an ideal opportunity at Southwell for Loveherandleaverher (12.30) who was a winning pointer and did us a favour when scoring over timber at Huntingdon back in February. Her subsequent absence from the track is a slight concern and the forecast – soft – ground is the softest she has encountered to date, but she looks potentially well treated on her handicap debut.
Monsieur D’Arque (1.00) was out classed in the Greatwood Hurdle on his reappearance but this winner between the flags in Ireland has always hinted that he would make a better chaser than hurdler and he can make a winning chase debut for Dan and Harry Skelton.