Paul Ferguson has two selections for us on Saturday; Caid Du Berlais in the Doncaster 12:55 and Rathvinden in the Cheltenham 15.00. Compare odds and bet.
It’s good to be back in action after a few days off and, of course, also returning to the track this afternoon is the mighty Big Buck’s in the Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham.
If Paul Nicholls’ 11-year-old retains all of his old ability, he will win this Grade 2, but this is no penalty kick, with Reve De Sivola and Boston Bob arriving here at the top of their games, which makes the race a watching brief.
Earlier on the card, the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle is the most interesting and, having fallen when selected here a fortnight ago, Rathvinden (3:00) is given another chance to strike at this level.
Willie Mullins’ six-year-old was hugely impressive in winning a bumper and a maiden hurdle at Cork before the turn of the year, and he was still travelling powerfully when falling three out at Warwick.
Course-and-distance winner Aubusson may have been slightly under-rated, though that race was run at a farcical pace, while the unbeaten Red Sherlock is respected, but takes a big step up in class on his two starts to date over hurdles. His bumper form is pretty solid, however, and he has also won on heavy ground. But, I was hugely impressed with the selection earlier in the season and he is worth siding with at 9/4 with Betfred overnight.
Arguably the novice hurdle of the day, however, comes from Doncaster, where the Albert Bartlett (or the River Don to most of us) looks an absolute cracker.
I had this race in mind for Urban Hymn for some time and expect he will relish the step up in trip, but wasn’t expecting Malcolm Jefferson’s six-year-old to head the market, given the strength of the opposition.
Timesremembered is the form horse, given his Grade 2 success and second in the Challow, while Sausalito Sunrise and Blakemount are another pair of young stayers I like.
But, Racing Pulse (2:40) could be the one for the each-way thieves, as John Quinn’s five-year-old looks bound to go close and should be difficult to kick out the first three.
He has form lines to tie in with the Cheltenham race, having beaten Flag Pass similarly impressively in a bumper as Rathvinden did, before finishing third in the slowly run race at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day, won by Aubusson.
That contest was not run to suit, but he earlier looked a serious prospect when winning over 2m6f on decent ground at Newcastle, beating Sir Mangan (won by 19 lengths next time) and Straidnahanna (went very close against Wuff last week) by 17 and 10 lengths, respectively. He looks sure to run a big race in a contest that should work out very well indeed. If he is available at 5/1 or bigger, he would appeal each-way, though the race can just be enjoyed.
Earlier on the card Annie Power is the obvious star-attraction, while impressive Ascot winner Bellenos catches the eye in the 2m-handicap chase, though I suspect Dan Skelton’s runner would prefer softer ground.
The Grade 2 Lightning Novices’ Chase sees the second chase start of former Champion Hurdler Rock On Ruby, but a chance is taken on Caid Du Berlais (12:55) who looks over-priced at 7/1 with Ladbrokes.
Runner-up to Jezki at Down Royal on his reappearance, the son of Westerner jumped for fun when making a winning debut over fences at Exeter in December and, while the five-year-old needs to step forward here, he looked a novice to keep on the right side of last time. Despite the fact he drops back in trip, he is worth chancing at the prices.
Paul Ferguson’s Jumpers To Follow 2013-14
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Fellow Betrescue columnist and Bet Victor’s Charlie McCann says: “it really is a privilege to write the foreword for such an informative and well-researched publication, which continues to go from strength to strength.”
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