Paul Ferguson has three selections from Aintree on Friday; Josses Hill in the 2.00, Racing Pulse at 4.15 and Stonebrook at 4.50. Compare odds and bet.
Day Two of the Crabbie’s Grand National meeting gets underway with the Grade 2 Top Novices’ Hurdle and, for a third year in a row, Nicky Henderson can take the prize with the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle runner-up.
The ill-fated Darlan won the contest in 2012, while Champion Hurdle runner-up My Tent Or Yours was an effortless 16 length winner last year, and this time Josses Hill (2:00) can go one better than he did in the Cheltenham Festival opener under Barry Geraghty.
The six-year-old looked as though he might need further when winning his bumper and maiden hurdle, but has improved considerably since and is growing up with every run. Runner-up in the Tolworth Hurdle on his penultimate start, when he travelled like the best horse for most of the race, he ran a blinder in the Supreme and could have bumped in to something special in the shape of Vautour.
Provided he handles the tighter track (did cope with Kempton) and he is over his recent exertions, he should take a bit of beating.
The Grade 1 Sefton Novices’ Hurdle looks a much deeper contest later on the card, with several interesting contenders and a clutch of young horses that skipped the Festival with this race in mind.
The Henderson pair of Beat That and Tistory are respected, as is the Sandy Thomson-trained Seeyouatmidnight, who is unbeaten in three starts under rules and is likely to set the market.
The Midnight Legend six-year-old has yet to race on a decent surface this season (though he did win his point-to-point on good), however, and a chance is taken on Racing Pulse (4:15) who has 9 lengths to make up with Seeyouatmidnight from their meeting at Musselburgh.
I’m pretty sure John Quinn’s charge wasn’t right that day and the fact he has been off since would also suggest this. Earlier he had won a Naas bumper impressively and scored in fine style on his British and hurdling debut at Newcastle in December, when he looked to relish the decent surface.
Beaten in a slowly run affair on bad ground at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day, he was then sent off 4/11 to beat Seeyouatmidnight and he could be slightly overlooked this afternoon. Hopefully he will be available at an each-way price and can prove that last run to be all-wrong under Tom Scudamore.
The third and final novice hurdler to back on ‘Ladies Day’ is Stonebrook (4:50) in the 2m4f Alder Hey Children’s Charity Handicap Hurdle.
The six-year-old finished third behind Faugheen and the aforementioned Josses Hill in a Punchestown bumper, before being switched him to Donald McCain’s yard.
Following a Carlisle bumper success, he was snapped up by JP McManus and duly followed up at the same track, before running with promise on his hurdling debut at Wetherby in January.
Since then, the son of Flemensfirth has won a maiden at Ayr (beating a subsequent winner) and followed up in effortless fashion at Newcastle last month. He needs to prove himself on quicker ground and in better company, but there is a strong possibility he will improve for the extra half-mile and could be well treated on an opening mark of 131.
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