The old guard are well represented in the National Spirit Hurdle (15:20) at Fontwell on Sunday, with the horse of the same name joined by Lil Rockerfeller and friends in a field where every horse is seven or older.
It’s actually surprising that the 2016 winner Lil Rockerfeller is only seven, as he seems to have been around forever, but he has been given a break since his last outing at Ascot and looks the one to beat here despite his Grade 2 penalty.
The step up in trip should suit Clyne, who’s looked more Molby than Nathaniel of late, while Air Horse One steps up in class for the first time.
On a card where his late father is remembered, it would be no surprise to see Nick Gifford welcome Brown Bear back into the winners’ enclosure in the 14:50. The horse was Pooh at the track when last seen, his trainer possibly making a Boo Boo by dropping him in trip, but he is back up in distance here which will suit. I don’t want to Panda to pressure – I can’t Bear that sort of thing – but he’s worth backing to win, which should see Lots-o’-Huggin’ by connections. Apologies for that series of Grizzly puns.
There are three horses with a Timeform ‘p’ attached to their rating in the novices’ hurdle at 15:55, a symbol meaning at least 6 lb of improvement is expected.
Aptly Put and Niblawi are both respected, however Darcy Ward – who shares a name with the Australian speedway rider who suffered serious spinal injuries in a crash in 2015 and whose foundation, like the race sponsor’s, is worth supporting – would be a popular winner once more, having looked one to follow when successful at Taunton last month.
Sticking with the mechanical racing theme, Zamparelli, who runs in the opener at 14:20, shares his name with Dino Zamparelli, a GP3 driver for Porsche. However, the horse has looked more like a Trabant in three starts over hurdles so far, and likely faces a tough task on his chasing debut, potentially up against The Unit, Space Oddity and Copain de Classe.
The latter looked to have a real engine at Ascot last time and – despite being part-owned by Jeremy ‘this test says you’re lying pal’ Kyle – is worth backing.