The Leamington Novices’ Hurdle is extremely competitive on paper, with nine of the 12 runners having won last time out.
The David Pipe team are in terrific form and this step up in trip for Make Me A Believer looks sure to bring out further improvement in the six-year-old. He was a game winner over 2m1f at Cheltenham in December and still, like a lot of his rivals, remains unexposed and potentially exciting.
Another unexposed sort is Jay Bee Why , who is trained by Alan King. He went off 4/1 for a very strong bumper at Newbury last season. He ran quite well and finished closer to last than first but then had a breathing operation, so something was clearly amiss.
On his first and only start over hurdles this season he routed a field over course-and-distance and his trainer gave him a good write-up earlier this week.
The Classic Chase is a good trial for the Grand National, producing the winner in 2017 with One For Arthur.
There is every chance that the unexposed and rather lightly-raced Notachance still has plenty of mileage in his current mark of 139. His only run this season was in a handicap chase at Bangor in which he was very impressive – the third that day finished second in the Welsh National last weekend.
On all known form, The Hollow Ginge finishing fourth in the Ladbroke at Newbury was as good as any of this field are bringing to the table. It’s arguable, on that evidence, that he may appreciate this kind of test. He’s relatively well-handicapped and there is no stronger man to have in the saddle than Sam Twiston-Davies.
It must also be said that Venetia Williams’ horses remain in red-hot form, so both of her horses Achille and Didero Vallis shouldn’t be overlooked.
Achille is a very lightly raced 11-year-old with some great form in the book.
Didero Vallis has long promised to win a competitive handicap and perhaps this stamina-sapping test will bring out some improvement in him.
It’s hard to look away from Come On Teddy who was so impressive as he bounded up at the hill at Cheltenham. A step up to three miles was always going to be the making of him and he showed that last time. He’s a strong travelling horse who jumps well and obviously has an engine. He was put up 7lbs for that victory and I don’t think that’ll be enough to stop him from following up.
Kepagge ran well at Cheltenham last time and will definitely come on for that run for an in-form yard.
15:50 MARKET RASEN
This handicap chase for horses rated 0-105 is relatively poor, with only one horse offering standout recent form: Easy Bucks for the Peter Bowen yard.
I was at Market Rasen last summer when this horse finished ninth, beaten 68 lengths, but while he finished out the back of the television, he did do some good late work and kept going through the line.
That was over two miles, and it was clear his future was going to lie over fences across a bigger distance. Stepped up in trip, he got his act together and won two races on the bounce, which was then followed up by a second last time out, where he and the eventual winner got racing a long way out.
Dropped in trip slightly, he should be very hard to beat.
Although, he hasn’t been the same horse since, Palixandre managed to win a race at Ludlow by 18 lengths when he was trained by Nicky Henderson. He’s been well beaten in three starts for his new connections, but this is a poor race and if he handles conditions and comes back to show some of his early promise, he could run smartly.
Also, any market move for the Ben Pauling-trained Eau Top will be more than telling. He’s shown a modicum of ability, but moreover, his yard are very shrewd. When the money is down, they’re not too far away.
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