GREEN BOOK was an improved performer on the Flat this year and he proved himself well ahead of his mark when making a winning start in handicaps on just his third start over hurdles at Haydock on Saturday. He accounted for another well-treated rival that day, the pair clear of the third, so the form has a solid look, and it is no surprise connections turn him out quickly as he escapes a penalty for that success. He should prove hard to beat. Bridge North should have more to offer himself now handicapping and looks the forecast pick.
There are four runners, but it is essentially a match between SCENE NOT HERD and Minella Trump with the other two rivals well out of the weights, and preference is for the former who will be defending an unbeaten record over fences. An Irish point winner, it is no surprise he is proving a much better chaser than hurdler, getting the job done in impressive fashion at Newcastle last time, and a subsequent 10 lb rise may not be enough to prevent this progressive six-year-old recording a hat-trick. The prolific Minella Trump will be no walkover, though, now chasing his eighth straight win, and he commands maximum respect.
This is usually an informative novice hurdle and this year’s renewal looks another. It is the Hughie Morrison-trained MISS FAIRFAX who is taken to come out on top, fair in bumpers last season, she shaped with plenty of encouragement on her hurdling debut when runner-up to a good prospect at Leicester this month. The pair pulled clear of the remainder and it looks form to take a strong view on, so she is expected to go one place better for a yard that always does well with its small band of jumpers. Penalised winners Nextdoortoalice and Lady of The Night are big players, also.
Plenty of these may want to force things, including FIDELIO VALLIS, and the class act in the field could defy top weight. He didn’t look at ease round Cheltenham when last seen eight weeks ago and the return to a right-handed track, and a handicap, could see him add to his good strike rate over fences. Desque de L’Isle wasn’t seen to best effect at Sandown last time, and is interesting back under Charlie Deutsch, while Not Available is another to consider.
DUBLIN FOUR showed fairly useful form when winning a handicap chase at Newbury last season, but he surpassed anything he had achieved in this sphere before when making a winning start for Fergal O’Brien on his reappearance back at Newbury last month. The fact that win came over a trip which is probably a minimum for him suggests he could take his form up another level still now facing a stiffer test of stamina and he remains on interest from a 5 lb higher mark. The Newest One doubled his tally in a weak handicap at Doncaster last month but is still feared most.
BALCO COASTAL ran to a high level when making a winning start under Rules in an all-weather bumper at Kempton in February and justified strong support when making a winning start over hurdles at Huntingdon this month in equally impressive fashion. He sported a first-time hood on that occasion and he seems sure to take a significant step forward for that initial experience, so he is very hard to oppose under a penalty. Iontach Cheval proved that his bumper success was no flash in the pan when also making a winning debut over hurdles at Uttoxeter and looks the obvious danger.
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The market should prove highly informative for this mares’ bumper, but Nicky Henderson’s HANA COLLONGES makes plenty of appeal on paper and is taken to go in at the first time of asking. Pass The Love On should have learnt plenty from her debut eighth at Warwick and is next on the list, ahead of Blue Suede Shoes and Now Then Wendy, who can both build on their respective debuts.
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