Paul Ferguson has 3 selections for us on Saturday; Mr Mole (12.35), Poungach (2.15) & Diamond Harry (3.25). Compare odds and bet.
Having skipped the Charlie Hall last week, the Badger Ales Trophy represents a huge drop in class for Diamond Harry (3:25) who looks well worth a chance on his return, despite having to leave a disappointing season behind him.
Nick Williams’ stable-star had his problems last season, but has dropped to a mark 6lb lower than from which he won the Hennessy on his reappearance two years ago and, if ever he’s going to bounce back, it will be today as he’s best fresh.
This time last year he was sent off just 7/2 in the Betfair Chase where he ran well for a long way, after which his season tailed off rather disappointingly. Reported to have had physical problems, his wellbeing has to be taken on trust, but if he were anywhere near his best he would lead this lot a merry dance despite carrying top-weight.
Noel Fehily’s mount was available at 9/1 with Ladbrokes on Friday evening and, though I would usually suggest an each-way bet at such odds, the nine-year-old is ‘win only’ material today. If he’s back to his best he’ll take some stopping, if not he’s likely to bomb out.
Paul Nicholls has a fine record at his local track and a fine record at this meeting too, so expect the champion trainer to be amongst the winners and he can get the day off to the best possible start for favourite backers with Mr Mole (12:35) in the opening novices’ hurdle, a race he has won four times in the past decade.
The son of Great Pretender was impressive when winning a Hereford bumper in April and, after being snapped up by JP McManus, he made an equally taking winning hurdles debut at Exeter last month, where he beat the smart Melodic Rendezvous.
The four-year-old has to concede a 6lb penalty to all 13 rivals this afternoon, but it will be bitterly disappointing if he fails to maintain his 100% record.
The Grade 2 Rising Stars Novices’ Chase is another race Nicholls has a fine record in, having won it for the fourth time in six runnings with Silviniaco Conti last year, and he can make it five from seven with Poungach (2:15) today.
A faller on debut, which is obviously far from ideal, he actually did little wrong at the first fence and slithered in a race won by Fingal Bay (Silviniaco Conti was beaten in the same race by Cue Card 12 months earlier) and this race was pin-pointed as a target prior to that debut.
The fact that Nicholls still feels fit to pitch him in to Grade 2 company on what is theoretically his debut speaks volumes and also suggests he’s schooled well since and confidence hasn’t been knocked.
A classy hurdler, he has always been viewed upon as a chaser and he was available at 2/1 with Betfred, Bet Victor and Paddy Power on Friday evening. He is given the nod, but this is the race of the day and features several exciting novices, including former stable-mate King Of The Night and the returning duo Court In Motion and Aegean Dawn.
The last pair could well make a huge splash over fences if returning with clean bills of health and Aegean Dawn represents the connections of Carole’s Destiny, who won after a lengthy lay-off earlier in the week. He was a high-class individual with the Alners and Nicky Henderson and looked over-priced at 12/1 with Bet365 last night.
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Last Year’s Book Results – Leading Prospects:
- SPRINTER SACRE – Unbeaten – winner at Aintree & Cheltenham
- SIMONSIG – Winner at Aintree & Cheltenham
- CINDERS AND ASHES – 10/1 winner of Supreme Novices Hurdle
- BOBS WORTH – 9/2 winner of the RSA Chase
- MENORAH & SILVINIACO CONTI – Both Aintree Winners
- SIR DES CHAMPS – Unbeaten inc 3/1 Jewson Cheltenham Winner
- FINGAL BAY – Won 4 times inc Challow Hurdle
- RAYA STAR – 10/3 winner at Wetherby, 12/1 Ladbroke Hurdle winner, 15/2 Scottish Champion Hurdle winner
- AMBION WOOD – 14/1 EBF Final Sandown winner
- CHAMPION COURT – 6/1 G2 Dipper Novices Chase winner
- PALACE JESTER – 14/1 winner at FFos Las
- SWINCOMBE FLAME – Hat-trick winner inc Lanzarote Hurdle at 9/2
- TEAFOR THREE – 5/1 NH Cheltenham Chase winner (Manifesto Novices’ Chase)