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ITV Sunday gets under way here with a handicap chase over an extended 3m 3f. At the age of 11 YALA ENKI is not getting any younger or better, but I still think he will take some stopping for the champion Paul Nicholls and Bryony Frost.
My selection showed at Taunton last season that he can still race with enthusiasm in these type of events, he also jumps soundly and stays all day. Giving weight to Empire de Maulde won’t be easy, but Yala Enki was short-headed in this last season and is 1lb lower. He is probably gearing up for the Welsh National once again.
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A Grade 1 here in the Morgiana Hurdle over 2m. Echoes in Rain is obvious, but I’ll take him on with the talented stable companion SHARJAH. Trained like the favourite by Willie Mullins, Sharjah is the mount of the handler’s son Patrick and the pair have never really had the credit they deserve. At the end of the day Sharjah has been second in two Champion Hurdle events and when the ground is not too testing, he’s a very talented performer.
This is the Grade 2 Shloer Chase over 2m. I’m going with another classy old boy here in POLITOLOGUE again for Paul Nicholls and Harry Cobden. The former Champion Chase hero has always been talented and, while he’s possibly lacked super star status, he’s a very classy horse on his best days. With a rating of 167, he’s still right in the mix here and is decent odds.
The Greatwood Handicap Hurdle over an extended 2m is always competitive and it’s a tough race to call. That said, I really do believe JESSE EVANS will take a lot of beating for Noel Meade. The five-year-old is in great form and comes to this on the back of a Navan maiden win on the Flat.
Prior to that he had been a good second on the level at Thurles and a very decent fourth in the Galway Hurdle. He’s progressive and, while one of the fancied ones, won’t be too skinny.
ITV are also at Fontwell for the extended 3m3f Southern National Handicap Chase. Hard to know what to expect from LE BREUIL, who has not won a race since 2019. That said, the Ben Pauling runner is well handicapped now and stays very well. His jumping is also sound, which is crucial at this tight track, and expect a bold show for Luca Morgan who takes off a valuable 5lbs.
Now a Grade 2 novice hurdle over an extended 2m. Very easy to go with I LIKE TO MOVE IT here for the Twiston-Davies team of Sam and Nigel. The improving four-year-old ran at this track last time and was a fine winner, keeping on strongly to deny Tritonic (goes in Greatwood) by over 3 lengths. That’s pretty good form and he will be hard to deny.
Finally from Fontwell, ITV have this handicap hurdle over an extended 2m 1f. This is last chance saloon for NATURAL HISTORY, who was once decent on the Flat for The Queen and now needs to get it together for Gary Moore and son Jamie over hurdles. My hope has been a beaten favourite in four out of his last five starts which says much – but, this is winnable.
So best of luck and pray for Yeeehaaas. You hear me Paddy?
13:45 Cheltenham – Yala Enki
14:05 Punchestown – Sharjah
14:20 Cheltenham – Politologue
14:55 Cheltenham – Jesse Evans
15:10 Fontwell – Le Breuil
15:30 Cheltenham – I Like To Move It
15:43 Fontwell – Natural History
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