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Thebannerkingrebel has to concede a 5lb penalty here and that tips the balance in favour of Up The Straight. He won twice over hurdles last season as a novice and ran a cracker at Cheltenham in a handicap in October off a mark of 135. He made a satisfactory chase debut when 2nd at Ascot behind Chantry House and I think he will improve for that experience here. He had a wind op since that run at Ascot and the combination of trip and ground should prove ideal for him.
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This is a cracking little mares novice hurdle and the winner of this could well jump to the front of the market for the mares novice hurdle at the Cheltenham festival. Queens Brook hasn’t really produced the same level of form over hurdles has she did in bumpers and as a result she looks worth opposing.
Hook Up was an easy winner at Fairyhouse on her reappearance after finding the Triumph Hurdle too hot for her on her last start of last season. She is a big player with Willie Mullins continuing to bang in the winners.
The one I like is Delvino. She shaped like the best horse in the race on her bumper debut at Navan last December, probably hitting the front too early before getting collared in the final furlong by Julies Stoaway.
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Behind in 3rd that day was Ballyadam, so it was a useful effort from Delvino and she made no mistake on her 2nd start in bumpers when winning easily at Down Royal in March. She made her hurdles debut in a hot looking race at Naas last month and was weak in the market, suggesting the run was needed.
That wasn’t the case in the race though, as she travelled powerfully throughout and found plenty on the long run in to win impressively. Behind were Castra Vetera who had won a listed bumper on his previous start and Royal Illusion was a former Irish Cesarewitch winner who is rated 94 on the flat and Delvino comprehensively beat them.
This is a tougher task again but I think she is up to it and dare I say, she might well have to potential to win the mares novice hurdle at Cheltenham itself.
This will be a proper test of stamina and I think Salty Boy has been crying out for a test like this. Previously trained in Ireland, he has been staying on strongly at the finish of his 3 starts for David Bridgewater and of course Bridgewater worked wonders with a similar type imported from Ireland in the form of The Conditional.
Salty Boy was running on well last time over an extended 3 miles at Haydock in the Tommy Whittle and gets to run off the same mark of 125 here. It is surely only a matter of time before he wins off that mark and Paddy is offering 4 places here for those who want to play each way.
Salsaretta has to concede weight all round here but she might well be capable of it. She is 4-5 over fences with a first fence fall last time her only defeat. She has been a wide margin winner on her previous 4 chase starts, including a defeat of Galvin and a wide margin win of a Grade 2 novice chase at Limerick last March. Conditions are no issue and with the Mullins yard in cracking form, she can improve her chase record to 5 wins from 6 starts.
Frank’s tips on Sunday
More tips for Sunday
- Timeform’s 7 fab fancies at Fairyhouse on Sunday
- Timeform’s punchy punts at Plumpton on Sunday
- Timeform’s top trio at Southwell today
- 7 best bets for today’s meeting at Catterick