Altior returns at Newbury in the 2m Grade 2 Chase at 14.25 in what looks a very good race, after his defeat by Cyrname at Ascot. But if the Altior we all know turns up – he should be winning here en route to the Cheltenham Festival.
In the Denman Chase that follows at 15.00, Jonjo O’Neill junior takes over on Native River with Richard Johnson out injured and looks to have this seven-runner contest at his mercy. Nearest rival Might Bite doesn’t look to be the horse of old and the former Gold Cup winner should be too good for him and Secret Investor.
Things get a lot more competitive in the Betfair Hurdle at 15.35 and Paddy Power is paying the first 6 home.
Willie Mullins sends over Ciel De Neige who I rode to finish third in the Fred Winter Juvenile Hurdle at Cheltenham. I like him and think he can be forgiven an unlucky run when finishing second at Limerick at Christmas, despite being long odds-on, where he was short of room.
He can go one better on Saturday.
There’s also an Irish raider at Warwick where John Queally sends over Djingle who is the complete outsider of the six-runner field in the 2m Grade 2 Novice Chase at 14.05.
Djingle was fourth to Notebook at Christmas at Leopardtown and is a sound-jumping, front-runner, who could be suited by the demands at Warwick.
Adrian Heskin rides.
At Naas on Saturday, Willie Mullins saddles Cut the Mustard who looks to get back to winning ways after defeat at Thurles last time. The drop back in trip to 2m should suit her. And yes, the experimental race times are correct at Naas.
Willie Mullins runs Hybery who has to improve considerably on what he’s shown to feature here. The big two look to be Entoucas and Village Mystic.
I’m going to go for Noel Meade’s Village Mystic to build on his last performance when second in a novice hurdle at Navan.
It’s Uncle v Nephew where Willie Mullins saddle Aione who was an impressive winner at Gowran Park last time on heavy ground and faces Emmet Mullins’ Russian Diamond who won at Down Royal.
Aione can shade it.
My dad’s horse Hardwired finished fourth over course and distance on debut under Patrick Mullins and the pair get another crack at it.
I think he has progressed a little bit from his first run and can go close.