Paul Ferguson has three selection for us on Saturday; Garde La Victoire (1:35) and River Maigue (2.40) at Kempton and Rathvinden (3.00) at Warwick. Compare odds and bet.
Kempton stages an eight race card on Saturday, due to the rescheduling of the Tolworth Hurdle, and the Grade 1 contest can go the way of Garde La Victoire (1:35).
Philip Hobbs’ Exeter bumper winner looked smart when scoring at Aintree and Warwick earlier in the season, before he went down all guns blazing against the smart Ballyalton last time. The winner may have failed to advertise the form on New Year’s Day, but the ground was atrocious that day and he still travelled best for the majority of that contest.
The track ought to suit and there should be plenty of pace on, with several of these wanting to race handily. This will also play into Richard Johnson’s hands, who will be keen to keep hold of the five-year-old for as long as possible, on ground that is softer than he has encountered to date. If he handles the underfoot conditions, he ought to go very close.
Looking at the opposition, the Henderson pair could end up wanting further, while Upazo probably isn’t in division one of the Willie Mullins novice hurdlers and is priced up on stable reputation rather than form. The Liquidator is a worthy market leader on his bumper form, but I feel his Cheltenham race slightly fell apart last time and much more is required here; Sandown would have suited him better last week, in my opinion. With that in mind, Garde La Victoire is worth backing at 6/1 with Boylesports.
The Lanzarote Hurdle went the way of Nicky Henderson last year, when Oscara Dara landed a nice ante-post touch for this column, and the Seven Barrows team can plunder the prize once again, with River Maigue (2:40).
The seven-year-old looked as though he would come on for his recent Sandown third and also looked as though he would appreciate this extra five furlongs. A smart novice last term, he won on heavy ground here on Boxing Day and, interestingly, has scored on his second start in both seasons racing, so he could be one who improves significantly from first start to second.
The son of Zagreb remains on a reasonable mark (142) despite being raised 2lbs for his latest third and should be backed each-way, with Bet Victor offering 7/1 overnight.
Of the opposition, novices Junction Fourteen and Spirit Of Shankly are respected, but more is needed from both. The latter’s Haydock form reads well, while the former is a horse that scored for us on his penultimate start at Fontwell. He has since scored over course-and-distance on Boxing Day, but he is up 16lbs and in a warmer race today, so needs to step forward once again.
Up at Warwick, the Grade 2 novices’ hurdle can go the way of Willie Mullins, with his unbeaten Rathvinden (3:00) who has done little wrong in winning a bumper and a maiden hurdle at Cork, since joining the stable.
The son of Heron Island needs to brush up his hurdling, but is completely unexposed, he will relish the ground and should also improve for the step up in trip. He looked a potential graded performer when quickening smartly last time and should be backed at 5/2 with Stan James.
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