Paul Ferguson has one selections for us on Thursday; Close Touch in the Doncaster 1.55. Compare odds and bet.
Nicky Henderson has enjoyed a 25% strike-rate at Doncaster over the past five seasons and his sole runner can enhance that today, when he saddles the unbeaten Close Touch (1:55) in the extended 2m3f novices’ hurdle.
The Generous chestnut won a bumper at Market Rasen in May and is two from two over hurdles to date, scoring over the minimum trip at both Fakenham in November and on soft ground at Ascot the following month.
He readily brushed aside Fair Trade that day and he has since won a jumpers bumper, while third home Pahente won a Kempton handicap on the Flat last month, so the form has been boosted, albeit not over hurdles.
The way he races suggests the step up in trip will suit and he can make it four from four for The Queen under Barry Geraghty, at the main expense of African Gold who is improving all the time and is a most likeable type. He does, however, look more of a stayer and it could be that Close Touch has too much speed for him this afternoon.
Elsewhere Mr Mole looks potentially well handicapped on an opening mark of 126 for the Bathwick Tyres Novices’ Handicap Hurdle down at Taunton.
Impressive in winning a Hereford bumper in April, the five-year-old was snapped up by J P McManus and made an immediate impact in the green and gold hoops, beating subsequent Grade 1 winner Melodic Rendezvous on their respective hurdles debuts at Exeter in October.
That success promised much, but he was then beaten at odds of 2-7 at Wincanton, where he looked far from straightforward. He had shown signs of greenness on his two previous starts, but this was slightly more worrying.
If it was just him running green, he will win this off 126 but at around 11/8 I’d rather watch than play today and hopefully he will show us he has grown up mentally. It is worth pointing out that the form of that Wincanton race looks a bit better now, with the winner Kings Lad running well in better company since, including when runner-up to another awkward customer Mr Watson at Cheltenham.
1:55 Doncaster: Close Touch; 11/8 @ Betfred
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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)