The last time the winner of the Adonis Hurdle (13:50 Kempton) went on to win the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival was back in 2011 when Zarkandar struck, and, given the strength of the Irish juveniles, it’s unlikely the double will be completed this season.
Milton Harris and Paddy Brennan teamed up to win the Adonis last season with Knight Salute – who went on to grab Grade 1 honours at Aintree – and the pair have a leading contender again at Kempton on Saturday with Scriptwriter.
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Scriptwriter, a winner of his first two starts over hurdles, found Irish raider Comfort Zone too strong in the Triumph Trial at Cheltenham last month, but he ran well in defeat, impressing with how smoothly he travelled through the contest, leading on the bridle before the last.
That form is the best on offer and, given how he travelled at Cheltenham, the sharp test at Kempton should play to his strengths.
Boothill to improve for step up in trip
Paul Nicholls has won the Pendil Novices’ Chase on a remarkable 12 occasions since 2006, including the last couple of editions with Tamaroc du Mathan and Pic d’Orhy. Nicholls has Solo in this year, but he might have to settle for minor honours if Boothill – trained by one of his former assistants, Harry Fry – is at the top of his game.
Boothill disappointed on his only start over fences at Exeter last season – and was also in and out of form over hurdles – but he got right back on track when landing a novice handicap chase at Newton Abbot in October and followed that up with a smart performance in a good-quality handicap at Ascot, beating an unexposed Irish raider with the pair pulling clear.
Boothill was understandably no match for Jonbon in the Grade 1 Henry VIII Novices’ Chase at Sandown but was soon back to winning ways in Grade 2 company at Kempton, digging deep to land the Wayward Lad Novices’ Chase from Aucunrisque, who has since landed the Betfair Hurdle.
Boothill didn’t race with his usual verve when runner-up behind Tommy’s Oscar in the Lightning Novices’ Chase at Doncaster last time, but he wasn’t disgraced trying to give 5 lb to that smart rival and, while he again must carry a penalty, he stands out as the class act. He’s only raced at around two miles over fences, but he produced his best effort over hurdles at around two and a half miles.
Grand National hopefuls in action at Fairyhouse
The Grade 3 Bobbyjo Chase, which takes place at Fairyhouse shortly after the Grand National weights are revealed, is often used as stepping stone to Aintree for some of the leading Irish contenders.
Hedgehunter, in 2005, was the last Bobbyjo winner to follow up at Aintree, though Rathvinden (2019) and Any Second Now (2022) went on to be placed in the Grand National in recent years.
Longhouse Poet is the shortest-priced Grand National contender entered in Saturday’s Bobbyjo Chase. He ran well to finish sixth at Aintree last year, taking to the test like a natural but failing to see out the marathon trip after racing exuberantly.
Longhouse Poet had won the prestigious Thyestes Chase at Gowran Park en route to Aintree and the form of the 2023 edition of the Thyestes is well represented here through the winner, Carefully Selected, and the third home, Pencilfulloflead.
Pencilfulloflead produced a promising effort in the Thyestes, running on well after the last to grab third on the line from subsequent Grand National Trial winner Coko Beach, and he was handed a potentially lenient weight (10st 12lb, BHA mark of 153) for the Grand National, so is one to keep an eye on at Fairyhouse. A good performance could see his Grand National odds contract.
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