Paul Ferguson has three selections for us on Saturday; Silviniaco Conti 2.25, Court Minstrel 3.35 both at Newbury and Sir Des Champs in the 3.20 Leopardstown. Compare odds and bet.
This afternoon’s Betfair Hurdle looks as competitive as ever and, at the time of writing his participation isn’t certain, but Court Minstrel (3:35) looks attractively handicapped having snuck in down the foot of the weights and he looks worthy of each-way support at 14/1 (Bet365 paying 5 places).
A smart bumper performer last season, he finished around 9 lengths behind My Tent Or Yours in the Grade 2 at Aintree and is in receipt of 16lbs from the market leader this afternoon.
A winner on his hurdles debut at Cheltenham in October (beat The Romford Pele who has won twice since and fourth in last week’s Welsh Champion Hurdle off 134), he was unlucky in running behind Dodging Bullets and River Maigue back at the same track in November.
The form of that race is really strong, with the runner-up winning on Boxing Day (rated 134 and he was in receipt of 7lbs from the selection who has a mark of 131) and the fourth home Duke Of Navan winning really well at Kelso last month.
Last time out, Evan Williams’ six-year-old was bogged down in the heavy ground in the Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle so any overnight rain would be a concern, though the trainer has indicated that he will pull him out if conditions are too testing. Good-to-soft would be satisfactory and hopefully he’ll line up under Adam Wedge, who offsets the fact he is 2lb out of the handicap.
Regular readers of my column will know I’m a huge fan of My Tent Or Yours who was put up here during his bumper campaign as well as earlier this season and he is very much respected, despite his lofty rating of 149. Like the selection, he is a strong traveller who promises to be suited by a strongly run big field handicap (I’m sure there will be enough pace on, despite people voicing concerns over where the speed will come from).
Again, he too wants decent ground ideally and, on anything good-to-soft or better, I wouldn’t put anyone off a ‘saver’ on the favourite around the 9/2 mark. If he were to win here, I’d expect he’d be vying for favouritism for the Supreme Novices’ so some of you maybe interested in the 28/1 on offer from SkyBet about the double.
Earlier on the card Silviniaco Conti (2:25) should complete the hat-trick for the season in the Grade 2 Denman Chase, a race Paul Nicholls has won four times in the past six years.
Impressive at Wetherby and in beating Long Run in the Betfair Chase at Haydock, the seven-year-old is best on a flat track like this and it will be disappointing if he can’t take care of this lot en route to a crack at the Gold Cup, for which he is trading around the 7/1 mark. He was available at 8/11 with Coral this morning.
Sir Des Champs (3:20) is trading 2 points shorter for Gold Cup glory at 5/1 and Willie Mullins’ seven-year-old can get back to winning ways in this afternoon’s Hennessy Gold Cup at the expense of the high-class Flemenstar who has finished in front of him on both starts this term.
The handicapper has the latter 5lb clear of the selection, but I’m still to be convinced he is a thorough stayer at this trip and, given his exuberant way of doing things, I think he will prove best over slightly shorter in time.
The selection really ought to have finished in front of him over Christmas when his jumping let him down in the Lexus Chase and, given a better round, he can regain the winning thread just in time for the Festival. The selection was available at 6/4 with Coral on Saturday morning.
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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)