We have already seen one top-class hurdler make a seamless transition to fences this week when Peddlers Cross won at Bangor and today it’s the turn of Grands Crus (4:05) who is fancied to land the Steel Plate And Sections Novices’ Chase.
The World Hurdle runner-up is another exciting recruit and a clear round should see him difficult to beat, even though he faces impressive Chepstow winner Cue Card.
David Pipe’s grey receives a handy 5lbs from his main market rival and, though his best form came over further last year, he has the pace to handle the drop back to 2m4½f, especially as he is likely to race keenly on his first start for five months.
Earlier on the card Steps To Freedom (2:55) is fancied to maintain his unbeaten record over timber in the Grade 2 Sharp Novices’ Hurdle for Jessie Harrington.
The five-year-old has looked a very smart prospect in two starts over hurdles to date, especially last time where he beat more experienced rivals despite losing his hind legs at the penultimate flight.
Nicky Henderson’s Ericht is respected on bumper form and he receives 7lbs from the selection (who opened up at 2/1 on Thursday evening), but this is a tall order on debut and he did look rather stamina laden last term. On decent ground, Steps To Freedom should be too quick for his rivals today.
The in-form Henderson has taken the conditional jockeys’ handicap hurdle for the past three years, but he doesn’t look to have another Aegean Dawn (who was in a different league last year) among two runners this time and it can pay to give another chance to Shuil Royale (3:30) is worthy of each-way support in a wide-open race.
David Arbuthnot’s six-year-old was a useful bumper performer and novice hurdler last season, but struggled over the minimum trip at Stratford on his return last month.
The son of King’s Theatre should relish the decent ground and he has looked as though a step up in trip would suit for some time now. A mark of 117 may well look lenient by the end of the season and he looks capable of going close.
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Last Year’s Tips Included 40 Leading Prospects: £499.80 profit to a level £10!
- AL FEROF won Supreme Novices’ Hurdle 10-1
- BENSALEM won Stewart Family Handicap 5-1
- BOBS WORTH won A Bartlett 15-8, 4/4 for year
- CAPTAIN CHRIS won Arkle Trophy 6-1
- FIRST LIEUTENANT won Neptune Investment 7-1
- (plus Grade 1 in Ireland 16-1)
- JAMES DE VASSY won Lanzarote Hurdle 8-1
- LONG RUN won King George 9-2, Gold Cup 7-2
- OSCAR WHISKY won Aintree Hurdle 6-1
- Peddlers Cross (Fighting Fifth Hurdle)
- Medermit (Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase)
- FINIAN’S RAINBOW (Maghull Novices’ Chase)
- WISHFULL THINKING (Manifesto Novices’ Chase)