Newbury’s opening maiden hurdle doesn’t look the strongest event by the track’s standards and, while Bless The Wings is respected back in trip and Oasis Knight could step up for the first time headgear, it will be disappointing if Easter Meteor (2:10) can’t get off the mark over timber.
A full-brother to Easter Legend, who could run in the mares’ novice chase final here tomorrow, Emma Lavelle’s five-year-old ran well on his hurdles bow behind Frascati Park and Sprinter Sacre at Ascot in November and bustled up the useful Cucumber Run at Hereford last time.
Later on the card Master Fiddle (4:25) is worth supporting in the conditional jockeys’ novice handicap hurdle, despite being beaten at relatively short odds on all three starts over timber to date.
A bumper winner at Market Rasen last March, the son of Alflora ran well at Ffos Las on his debut over obstacles and also when third to Raya Star at Doncaster last month.
The six-year-old is bred to appreciate softer ground than he will encounter today, but the handicapper has given him a chance off just 114 and young Jeremiah McGrath is a more than able partner from the saddle.
Up at Sedgefield Priceless Art (3:25) is the third novice fancied to get off the mark over hurdles this afternoon.
A winner of four bumpers, the six-year-old finished fifth in the Grade 2 contest at Aintree last April and shaped really well on unsuitably soft ground on his hurdles debut at Kelso in February.
He failed to build on that in the well-contested Premier Kelso Hurdle last time, but Alan Swinbank’s charge should improve significantly now he encounters better ground for the first time over jumps.
Ex-flat performers City Ground and newcomer Wadnaan are feared most, but the booking of Tom Scudamore looks significant (travels a long way for just the one ride) and the son of Anabaa is taken to score.
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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