GAVIN CROMWELL: There’s some top-quality action over the weekend on both sides of the Irish sea. We’ve got plenty of runners and hopefully we can keep up the good form from the previous few weeks.
We send Jeremys Flame over to Newbury for the Listed mares’ novice hurdle (12.05pm) with Robbie Power taking the ride. She was a good second the last day to a promising type of Gordon Elliott’s and given that was in a Grade 3, she’s more than entitled to take her chance here.
She seems to be settling better of late and although it will be tough to beat the two market principles of Nicky Henderson and Paul Nicholls, we’re hoping she runs a big race.
We run three in the maiden hurdle (1.35pm) in Whirling Dervish, Bentham and Bread And Butter.
Whirling Dervish is a recent purchase from the Newmarket sales and although it’s his first start over hurdles, we’re hopeful he can show up pretty well.
Bentham has run well in a number of maiden hurdles but just has failed to get his head in front. We’re taking five pounds off him here which should help him a bit and he’s another who should run a nice race.
Bread And Butter didn’t run too badly at Punchestown the last day and hopefully he’ll improve for that. We see him as a handicapper further down the line though.
Jukebox Jive and Lucky Road run in the handicap hurdle (2.45pm).
The former won the November Handicap on the Flat on his first start for us which was a brilliant. He’s rated 124 over hurdles and the key to him is ease in the ground as shown by his win last time. You’d have to respect his chances and he’s in good form at home, so we’d like to think he goes there with a solid chance.
We’re taking seven pounds off Lucky Road to give him a bit of chance. He won three in a row over the summer and wasn’t beaten too far the last day at Punchestown and we’d be hopeful he can run a nice race again.
We run Darver Star in the Grade 1 Royal Bond novice hurdle (1.00pm). He’s a 145-rated novice and it’s his last day of being one, so we decided it was best to run here given it’s his last chance to do so. He’s entitled to take his chance on the back of what he’s done so far, but he’s clearly up against some very strong rivals here.
It seems to be a very strong year for novices so it’s going to be tough, but I’m hopeful he’ll run well and if he can finish in the placings we’d be delighted.
Raz De Maree runs in the handicap chase (2.05pm). He’s obviously been an amazing servant to the yard and he’s still showing us enough home to suggest he’s got a few more miles on the clock. His main aim is the Welsh National, but this race over 3m5f looks a nice starting point ahead of that. He’s not getting any quicker but it’s exciting to see him back on the track. Hopefully he runs well and comes home safe.
We also run Lucky Road in the same race. He’d have a squeak in this though we’re not quite sure if he’ll go in the ground. There isn’t any reason to suggest he won’t though and we’d like to think the trip should bring out the best in him as well.
Our final runner is Ilikedwayurthinkin in the Grade A handicap hurdle (3.10pm). We’ve had this race in mind for him for a while and he’s in good nick at home. He run twice at the Galway Festival and he’s up 21 pounds since then. It’s the biggest test of his career so far against some much better rivals, but we’re hoping he runs well and that there’s still a bit more to come.
In terms of the future, this race will determine long-term targets. He’s got to prove he can mix it with the better horses and if he can it opens up plenty of options further down the line.
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