Paul Ferguson has two selections for us on Friday; Irving in the 2.05 at Ascot and Urban Hymn in the Haydock 3.05. Compare odds and bet.
Nicky Henderson invariably sends a decent horse or two to this afternoon’s Ascot meeting and he holds strong claims in the opening couple of contests with Beat That and Top Of The Range.
The former is on somewhat of a retrieval mission, having been well supported on both bumper starts last term, while the latter has always appealed as a smart chasing prospect but isn’t the most consistent. At his best on a decent surface, he would be difficult to beat if putting in a clear round.
Henderson took the introductory hurdle in 2011 with Broadbackbob and last year with Close Touch, and he saddles useful bumper performer Tradewinds this afternoon. He is very much respected in receipt of 5lbs, but Irving (2:05) created a big impression on debut last week and can follow up for Paul Nicholls and Nick Scholfield.
The five-year-old failed to settle and didn’t jump particularly fluently, but he still readily quickened away from another Henderson inmate, Cup Final, after the final flight and it was a debut performance that promised much for the future.
Up at Haydock, the four-runner novices’ chase is an absolute cracker, with all four holding sound claims. Many Clouds was a winner on debut for this column at Carlisle recently and it would be nice to see him follow up, though this is a competitive heat.
The ‘fixed brush’ novices’ hurdle is another decent contest and, those of you who have been kind enough to purchase a copy of this year’s Jumpers To Follow, will know Classic Move is a horse I think plenty of.
He won well enough on his debut for current connections and could well open up as a viable each-way option today, but it was impossible not to be impressed with the rules debut of Urban Hymn (3:05) at Huntingdon recently and he gets the tentative vote.
A well-regarded point-to-point winner, he arrived at Malcolm Jefferson’s yard along with Oscar Rock and looks another exciting recruit for the Calder’s. Given how he won his bumper, the trip should prove ideal and, given his physique and his pointing background, these obstacles shouldn’t pose a problem.
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