In this race there’s Jenkins, Ok Corral and The Russian Doyen for the English trainers.
When you look at last week, for example, and Ornua getting so close to Paul Nicholls’ horse at Sandown, you’d have to think that at the minute the Irish horses are a little ahead of their English counterparts, with the exception perhaps of Kalashnikov.
But there doesn’t look to be a standout over this trip in England at the moment. This looks an open race. Whatever wins here could go on and win the Dipper on New Year’s Day. I don’t know if there’s great strength-in-depth with the English novices currently.
Ok Corral is the highest-rated in the race but I’m not certain about his ability to handle the Good ground.
Baron Alco and Frodon had all the luck in November at Cheltenham in a race with plenty of the same names as this one. Everything went right for them.
Baron Alco was a good winner on the day and I think he’ll uphold the form with Frodon, but if Rather Be has a bit more luck he’s the most likely winner.
This is something of a stepping stone for the nearly-horses to move into the Champion Hurdle picture. They all have a bit to go to catch up on Buveur d’Air but I think Summerville Boy is a horse to whom it’s worth giving another shot.
He improved a lot from his first run last season and this track will suit him. There’s not much jumping in the last mile of the race, and I’d be going for him.
He was beaten by a long way by Buveur d’Air a fortnight ago, but so would have been any of the others in this one. You can’t write off any horse based on one run.
Campeador fell in his last race, but this might be within his grasp – if he jumps around he’ll win. He’s head-and-shoulders the best horse in this one, and he’s the most likely winner.
Mark Walsh is on Farid for Willie Mullins in this one. Maze Runner won last Sunday in Cork and we think Farid is an even sharper horse.
He’s schooled really well at home and loves jumping. We’ll be hoping he takes a bit of beating here.
I think Paul Townend fancies Dunvegan.
He was a fair Bumper horse last year and Pat Fahy thinks he’s in good order, so Paul rides him.
Pont Aven will improve for the run. He’ll win races, but that might be a bit down the line.
Brosna George took a heavy fall at Punchestown on his last start but he looks to me to be still ahead of the handicapper.
He’ll handle the ground, and he could be the one.
It’d be nice for Arthur Moore to get a winner.
Fasola Tido goes well at home. She’s not the biggest filly in the world, but she’s very strong and it’s a 4-y-o filly-only race, so she’s been targeted at it for quite a while now.
Blue Blood Racing own her, and we think she’ll go very close. Along with Farid, she’s probably Willie’s best shot on Saturday.