The first division of the novice hurdle, than opens Leicester’s card on Tuesday, is much the stronger division, but Champion Court (1:10) is still fancied to land the spoils for Martin Keighley and make it two from two over timber.
A bumper winner in Ireland, he tried to concede 7lbs to last week’s winner Bear’s Affair when runner-up on his British debut at Uttoxeter in October and he landed a Grade 2 novice hurdle at Cheltenham the following month, on his debut over jumps.
The runner-up has since run well in a decent contest at Kempton and, though the selection will eventually want 3m, he should be too good for his rivals here.
Expensive ex-pointer Invictus will be tough to beat in the second division, but will be priced accordingly, so the second bet on the card is Lifestyle (2:40) in the mares’ novices’ hurdle for Nicky Henderson and Barry Geraghty.
An impressive winner on debut in a Ffos Las bumper last January, the daughter of Karinga Bay has let herself down by racing too keenly since.
With the Henderson horses in such good order, it is hoped that Geraghty can switch her off on her hurdles debut and she is taken to score in receipt of 6lbs from her main market rival, Risaala.
Over in Ireland, Navan stages a really competitive beginners’ chase that Ballymak (2:55) is fancied to land for Gordon Elliott and Davy Russell.
The dual points winner made a pleasing return from over a year off at Punchestown over Christmas, where he ran well for a long way behind the smart Royal De La Thinte.
The Bob Back gelding should come on for that return and, with improvement expected, he should be difficult to beat over a trip that could prove ideal.
Paul Ferguson’s Jumpers To Follow 2010-11 is available hot off the press from the 1st October for just £9.99
Send a cheque payable to “The Racing Insider” to The Racing Insider, PO Box 98, Liverpool L9 1WY. Please include a note of your name and address and telephone number or email address.
Last year’s selections included:
Hurricane Fly: 3/1 winner of the G1 Rabobank Champion Hurdle
Copper Bleu: 12/1 winner of the Jewson at Cheltenham
Great Endeavour: 18/1 winner of the Festival Plate
Tranguil Sea: 11/2 winner of the Paddy Power Gold Cup
Sizing Europe: 6/1 winner of the Arkle
Weapon’s Amnesty: 10/1 winner of the RSA Chase