Dan Skelton is one of the best target trainers around, highlighted by the fact that he has managed to lay out the winner of the County Hurdle three times in the last four years.
Beakstown had quite the reputation after he won his point to point and while he was beaten in his only run in bumpers, he was never going to come into his own until going jumping over further than two miles. In his first three starts over hurdles, he won two of them, including a Grade 2 at Warwick, as well as only being touched off by the very useful Ask Ben.
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He was only 14/1 for last year’s Ballymore, but never really travelled and was pulled up. It looks like his whole campaign this year has been about getting into this race on a nice mark and Skelton looks to have done a great job as he races off a mark now of 139.
His three chase starts have been behind Sam Spinner, Champ and Mister Fisher and it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to see him putting up a much improved performance now going handicapping for the first time.
Relegate was a top class bumper performer in 2018, culminating in a victory in the Champion Bumper at that year’s festival. She flew up the hill for Katie Walsh that day, which suggested she would make a lovely novice hurdler over a longer trip.
Hurdling didn’t quite work out for her last season, with jumping being an issue but that still didn’t stop her winning her maiden hurdle. She was fifth in a Grade 1 at the Dublin racing festival when her hurdling cost her all chance. She was off the track until mid-February this year, where she returned at Punchestown on her first start for new trainer, Colm Murphy.
Murphy has a great festival record, training Bib Zeb to a Champion Chase win and Brave Inca to win the Supreme and Champion Hurdle. Relegate jumped much better in that race at Punchestown and stayed on really well to finish an eye-catching fourth. She gets in here off a mark of 137 and were she to return to anywhere near the best of her bumper form, she should run a massive race.
Front View is a very lightly raced five-year-old, that looks like one that has been campaigned with a decent handicap in mind. Showing fair form in his bumpers, he ran second to Envoi Allen on his hurdles debut at Down Royal in November, with subsequent winners like Entoucas and Fauguernon behind.
He got off the mark in Cork, beating the above average Uhtred and Jon Snow and was then given a three-month break prior to his run in a Thurles Grade 3 contest last week, when second to Five O Clock. With bigger targets in mind there is every chance that Front View is 10 lbs ahead of the handicapper.