Timeform review: Laurina was good but can she do it against the boys?

Think you spotted a cast-iron cert for Cheltenham at the weekend? Timeform may have other ideas along with a dark horse to follow in the future ...

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Can Laurina do it against the boys?

Willie Mullins’ exciting mare Laurina made her much anticipated reappearance at Sandown on Saturday and, though the race ended up being unsatisfactory with just two runners going to post, it was hard not to be impressed by the manner in which Laurina went about her business.

Admittedly, the form probably doesn’t amount to much, but she at least proved herself in good heart, and she remains on track for a tilt at the Champion Hurdle in March.

She has the Irish Champion Hurdle next month at Leopardstown as a next possible target, providing the ground is suitable, jockey Ruby Walsh stating post-race that soft/heavy ground is very important for her.

That tempers enthusiasm about supporting her for the Champion Hurdle in March at this stage, at least, especially given odds of around 7/2 look prohibitive to say the least, given she is yet to test her metal against the geldings.

However, she remains a mare who has plenty of potential but her next run will tell us more.

Tizzard favouring the Supreme for Elixir

Summerville Boy won the Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown 12 months ago before going on to be successful in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and Colin Tizzard will be hoping that Elixir de Nutz can follow in those footsteps following his gutsy win on Saturday.

It was the Nicky Henderson-trained Rathhill who was all the rage in the market beforehand having looked so good on his debut, but it was experience that came to the fore on the day, Elixir de Nutz’s excellent jumping coupled with a very willing attitude making him a tough nut to crack.

However, to put the race into some context, Elixir de Nutz’s performance was around 19 lb inferior – on Timeform’s scale – to Summerville Boy’s performance last season.

Elixir de Nutz will have to take another step forward if he’s to make an impact in March.

Connections were mindful that he’s had three fairly quick runs in succession, and he had a tough race on Saturday, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if he went straight to the Festival now.

His brilliant jumping and good attitude will stand him in good stead,

But odds of around 12/1 at this stage for the Supreme makes little appeal.

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Master French raider makes successful Plumpton raid – ruled out for season now

Plumpton is no stranger to attracting a good horse, but never this century has it staged a race with as much quality in depth as the novices’ chase on Sunday, and French raider Master Dino emerged with plenty of credit beating Knocknanuss by seven lengths.

He did bundles in a hectic hurdling career, but he looks destined for even better things over fences, asked a bigger question than on chasing debut (won by 30 lengths), but passed the test with flying colours, and as a result his price for his intended target at the Cheltenham Festival – the JLT Novices’ Chase – contracted.

Trainer Guillaume Macaire was very complementary about the horse post-race, and his decision to send the horse over for the bonus race seemingly reflecting a desire to head for Cheltenham despite Macaire’s increasingly rare representation in the UK.

The way he surged clear impressively from a rival who’d routed his opposition in a handicap from a lofty mark the time before, all amounts to the best performance seen by a novice all season.

*Unfortunately, reports on Tuesday indicated an injury has ruled him out for the season.

One to back next time

A winner on the Flat, Paddy The Chef has made an encouraging start over hurdles, hitting the frame on both of his starts, and he shaped a fair bit better than the bare result behind Triumph Hurdle bound Torpillo at Sandown on Saturday.

Paddy The Chef left the impression he wasn’t suited by testing conditions, travelling well until weakening before the last, and losing second place on the run-in, finishing tired. He has potential, especially once tackling handicaps, and he should be followed closely next time he runs.

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