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Elle Est Belle was one of the leading bumper performers last season – she fared best of the British when third in the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham – and she is likely to also take high rank among the mares’ novice hurdlers this term.
Elle Est Belle’s hurdling career didn’t get off to a seamless start at Newbury three weeks ago as she was turned over at odds-on by the re-opposing Nina The Terrier, with Ahorsewithnoname splitting the pair in second, but it was still an encouraging start and she is entitled to improve significantly for the run.
Elle Est Belle’s lack of experience seemed to catch her out on that occasion as she wasn’t fluent up the straight after they dashed for home off just a pedestrian early gallop. But Elle Est Belle, who has been given the Timeform Large P to indicate she’s open to plenty of improvement, should be much more streetwise now and can reverse the form in the listed mares’ novice (12:10) that kicks off Newbury’s card on Saturday.
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The dominance of the Irish at the Cheltenham Festival in March was one of last season’s major talking points – they sent out a record-breaking 23 winners to Britain’s five – and the early signs are that there will be plenty of decent prizes booked for export again this term. A Plus Tard was a sensational winner of the Betfair Chase last weekend and his trainer, Henry de Bromhead, has a strong hand at Newbury on Saturday with Mr Incredible (12:40), Somptueux (13:15) and Eklat de Rire (15:00).
De Bromhead has always been keen to credit Rachael Blackmore as being a key part of the yard’s success and the Grand National-winning jockey was certainly strong aboard Mr Incredible on his chasing debut at Naas three weeks ago. Mr Incredible still had plenty to do approaching the last but he found plenty under a determined drive and ultimately won in the style of an exciting staying prospect. That success was achieved over two miles and three furlongs, but Mr Incredible looks sure to appreciate the step up to three miles at Newbury and can maintain his unbeaten start over fences.
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Big weekend for Nicholls’ novices
It’s a big weekend for Paul Nicholls as, in addition to running last season’s leading juvenile hurdler Monmiral in the Fighting Fifth, he sends out two of his best novice hurdle prospects. Stage Star is in action at Newbury on Friday, while Mr Glass, who got off the mark over hurdles on the same card at Chepstow, bids to extend his unbeaten sequence in the ‘French Furze’ Novices’ Hurdle at Newcastle on Saturday.
Mr Glass won his final two starts in bumpers last season and he didn’t do much wrong on his hurdling debut at Chepstow, landing the odds in comfortable fashion. Mr Glass is out of a half-sister to the high-class hurdler Yanworth, and he looks like an imposing type, so he has the tools to make a big impact over obstacles. The Timeform Large P attached to his rating suggests he has plenty still to offer.
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