Paul Ferguson has one selection for us on Thursday; Puffin Billy in the Newbury 15:15. Compare odds and bet.
The Bet365 Intermediate Hurdle (the Gerry Fielden to most of us) is without doubt the highlight on the opening day of Newbury’s Hennessy meeting, with an intriguing eight strong field going to post.
Chatterbox heads the market and the dual course-and-distance winner will be popular on the back of his defeat of My Tent Or Yours here last Christmas. Some of Nicky Henderson’s runners have looked in need of their first run, however, so he is taken on this afternoon.
Regular readers of my column will know I’m a fan of Ifandbutwhynot, who could easily go well at a price (12/1 overnight), while Irish Saint and Get Back In Line remain open to plenty of improvement, especially the latter, who has had just two career starts to date.
All that said, top-weight Puffin Billy (3:15) looked a class act in the first half of last season and, with valid reasons for his end of season disappointments, he is fancied to make a winning return off a mark of 146.
Oliver Sherwood’s stable star made a winning hurdles debut at this meeting last year, before scoring in impressive fashion at Ascot. The ground won’t be a concern and, given he has won first time out in each of the past two seasons, he has plenty in his favour for his return.
Trading at 6/1 with Hills early on Wednesday evening (money was beginning to come for him) the son of Heron Island looks a cracking each-way bet with the dead eight going to post.
Earlier on the card, it is hoped that Just A Par leaves his Chepstow second behind in the RSA Worcester Novices’ Chase, a race these connections have done well in down the years. Given he is such a big horse, there has to be a chance he will have come on considerably for that, but he will need to, as he was struggling some way from home. In receipt of 7lbs from Third Intention, it is hoped he can kick-start his chasing career this afternoon, but he is one to watch today rather than back.
3:15 Newbury: Puffin Billy; 7/2 William Hill
Paul Ferguson’s Jumpers To Follow 2013-14
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New for 2013-14:
Grade 1 winning jockeys Nick Scholfield and Jane Mangan provide readers with their horses to follow
Last years results included:
* Leading Prospects, Arvika Ligeonniere (x3), Boston Bob, Captain Conan (x3), Champagne Fever (x2 inc Supreme Novices’ Hurdle), Glens Melody, Melodic Rendezvous, Simonsig (Arkle) & Un Atout won 13 Grade 1 novice contests between them
* My Tent Or Yours won 4 times including the Betfair Hurdle and the Top Novices’ at Aintree
* Stable Round-Up included Neptune winner The New One, Scottish Champion Hurdle winner Court Minstrel and David Pipe’s Dynaste of whom it read “could follow the Grands Crus path of last year, starting in the Steel Plate And Sections before he is readied for the Feltham” – he won both races and also scored at Aintree in April
* Across The Sea – Mount Benbulben 14/1 winner of the Grade 1 novice chase at the Punchestown Festival
* Under The Hammer – horses featured in this section included Champion Bumper winner Briar Hill (25/1) and The Liquidator, who won the equivalent Grade 1 at Punchestown – this section has been greatly increased for 2013-14