Racing Daily with BetVictor – Feb 22

News yesterday that leading owners Paul and Claire Rooney have rescinded their Cheltenham boycott after their fears over equine safety were allayed following a meeting with clerk of the course Simon Claisse. They are likely to have a number of runners in next month’s handicaps although few in the Grade 1 contests.

It looks increasingly likely that both Apples Jade (2/1 at BetVictor Non Runner No Bet) and Laurina (7/2 NRNB) will run in the Champion Hurdle rather than the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham next month. That might leave the door open for Benie Des Dieux (11/8 with BetVictor NRNB) to follow up last year’s success in the corresponding race when she had a below-par Apples Jade behind. The mare was nominated by trainer Willie Mullins’ as his best chance of a winner at next month’s Cheltenham Festival when asked at a press day at his stable earlier in the week.

The ground is reported as good at Warwick for today’s card and I am sweet on the chances of One For Rosie (1.10) in the opener even though he must give weight away to eight of his 9 rivals. The selection beat leading novice chaser Glen Forsa on his hurdles debut at Carlisle back in November before disappointing back at the Cumbria track the following month on ground softer than ideal.

There should be no excuse with underfoot conditions this afternoon although this is a decent contest and I am sure there will be a number of future winners in the field, including the other penalised runner New Quay who will also appreciate the forecast underfoot conditions.

Black Tulip (2.15) made a bad mistake at the first and was never travelling after when pulled up – having been well backed – at Uttoxeter and I am prepared to give the mare another chance especially as she is back on decent ground. The selection jumped well when runner up over 2m 4f here back in November and I feel this step up to 3m should suit. Sheneededtherun won this corresponding race 12 months ago from a 2lb lower mark and she looks a big danger lurking at the foot of the weights.

Mahlermade (3.55) still has improvement to find in the jumping department, but he galloped all the way to the line at Doncaster when runner up last time and he can finally get his head in front over fences having finished in the silver medal position in all three runs over the larger obstacles. Alan King fits his novice with a first-time visor this afternoon.

Dragon D’Estruval (2.05) appeared to find two-and-a-half miles an insufficient test at Newbury last time and he is the each way recommendation for the Pertemps qualifier at Exeter stepping back up in trip. The selection was yesterday entered for three handicaps at Cheltenham next month (Pertemps Final, Coral Cup and Martin Pipe) and the suggestion is that today’s contest will decide whether Nicky Henderson’s inmate has the necessary stamina for 3m or whether he will drop in trip next month.

Do note BetVictor are betting each way 1/5th odds 4 places on this 13-runner event. I would be disappointed if this 6-y-old did not run a big race.

If we see a future Festival winner this afternoon it is likely to be the mare Epatante (2.40) who can make it two out of two over timber for Nicky Henderson. The selection is 4/1 (NRNB) with BetVictor for the Mares’ Novices Hurdle after her smooth win at Kempton on debut. I was fortunate enough to be at Kempton on that occasion and it is fair to say that Henderson suggested she was potentially very smart. Barry Geraghty again crosses the Irish Sea for the ride.

Annie Mc (3.45) patently failed to stay 3m on her penultimate start but made no mistake at Ascot last time – albeit from a 10lbs lower mark. She travelled so well on that occasion, however, that she is taken to defy the rise with the Jonjo O’Neill yard back among the winners this week.

Richard Johnson is at Catterick and is taken to land the opener for O’Neill courtesy of Young Wolf (1.20) who drops back to the minimum trip having travelled well before finishing third on soft ground at Hereford last time.

In the expected absence of Cap Du Nord who was due to run at Sedgefield yesterday I hope to see the Rooney silks back in the winners’ enclosure with the chasing newcomer Best To Come (1.55). The selection is not the biggest but is athletic and connections look to have found an excellent opportunity although Cap Du Nord would be a massive danger if he faces the starter.

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