Salamanca School is a full brother to the Group One winning Prince Gibraltar and can also count the very useful Princess Gibraltar and Sofia’s Rock among his siblings, so he is bred to be well above average.
He made a lovely debut at Ayr last month behind the very useful Morisco but shaped like he would improve plenty for the experience. The soft ground and step up in trip should suit on breeding and add in that the level of form shown by his main rivals here doesn’t appear to be too high, I can see him getting off the mark and could be one to keep an eye on next year in nice middle distance handicaps.
This novice’s chase looks an absolute cracker for so early in the National Hunt season and Beakstown makes plenty of appeal on his chasing debut.
Sam Spinner, last year’s World Hurdle second, is his main rival here but I would be a little concerned about his jumping now tackling the bigger obstacles. He really struggled with his jumping early last season and it looked like he had fallen out of love with the game but that World Hurdle run showed the engine is still there. He did run below par at the Aintree festival and that coupled with his jumping frailties, means he is worth opposing.
Beakstown would look to have it all to do on ratings but this impressive point winner was a grade 2 novice hurdle winner last season, before running below form in the Ballymore Novices Hurdle at Cheltenham. He was always going to make a better chaser and I can see him causing a mini surprise in this one – and he could be well worth following this season.
Trolius catches my eye on his return to the all weather. A winner on his first three starts – all on the all weather – he ran well in decent races out in Meydan earlier in the year and only returned to action at Ascot in September. He shaped well that day, suggesting that is handicap mark of 90 was workable.
He returned to Ascot earlier this month and ran a fair race in fourth, considering the soft ground probably wasn’t ideal for him. The handicapper has been quite fair in dropping him 3lbs to a mark of 87 and now back on the all weather, on which he is unbeaten, he makes plenty of each way appeal. The added bonus is that Paddy is paying an extra place here.