The declarations for Tuesday’s Champion Hurdle were published yesterday and twelve will face the starter with Vroum Vroum Mag, who will take her chance in the Mares’ only race later in the card, the only absentee. Alan King’s Yanworth (5/2) and Nicky Henderson’s Buveur D’Air (4/1) head the market at BetVictor although the drying ground has led to another of the Henderson runners Brain Power (15/2 from 10s) being the best backed horse for the opening day feature in recent days.
In other Festival news trainer Harry Fry reports Neon Wolf will run in the opening Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and not the Neptune which is something of a surprise. He is a 4/1 shot with BetVictor to land the Festival curtain-raiser. Fry also reported yesterday that his American would bypass the meeting on account of the drying ground.
Soft ground is still the order of the day at Stratford and there is a valuable handicap hurdle over the minimum trip. The novice Midnight Maestro (3.15) won his first couple of starts and ran well in defeat behind stablemate Thomas Browne at Wincanton last time. His opening mark looks fair and he has scope for further improvement – he lacks the experience of many of his rivals but is taken to get the week off to a flying start for owner JP McManus.
Dr Robin (3.45) lost little in defat at a murky Ffos Las last time dropped to the minimum trip and the winner of that event has subsequently followed up in a better race. The selection had previously won at Sedgefield and he looks sure to run well off a 5lb higher mark this afternoon. Altiepix (first time cheek-pieces) is rated the biggest danger in another competitive race.
The Harry Whittingham runners ran OK without pulling up any trees on Saturday although a market move for his Star Tackle would be worth noting in the novices’ hurdle at Chepstow. Ckalco des Loges (3.30) is hardly one of the Dan Skelton stable stars but he has enough form in the book to suggest he should be up to winning this contest although his future will surely be back over further.
The mare We’ll Be There (4.30) is fitted with a tongue-tie for the first time and looks fairly treated on her second (50/1) at Ffos Las at the beginning of the month.
At Plumpton Rude And Crude (3.05) can continue the good form of Gary Moore dropping back in trip. The selection may not have got home at Leicester last time (2m 4f) and today’s drop in tri should suit. The handicapper has dropped the horse 5lbs for that effort and that might be an overreaction given it appeared to be his stamina that looked to give way on his first start for his new yard.
Sir Hubert (5.10) disappointed over C&D last time but his previous two runs suggested he could go very close in the finale for Richard Rowe. He has been plying his trade on winter ground of late but a drying surface would suit and it will be interesting to see if the market speaks in his favour.
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