9 potentially smart Novice Hurdlers go to post for the first race of the day at Ascot, see our betting tips and the full race preview.
IN SUMMARY: A very tricky race with lots of improvers and unknown quantities but preference is for TALES OF THE TWEED, who ran well in both of his bumpers and wasn’t hard pushed when finishing 3rd here over shorter last month. He will improve for the step up in trip and transition to hurdles, with the added plus of Barry Geraghty taking the ride. The main danger may well be Criq Rock who ran very well in bumpers and is surely capable of better over hurdles.
1 ALPHA MALE – Made an average debut at Worcester back in October in a bumper but was better on hurdling debut, finishing 3rd but a long way behind the front two at odds of 66/1 (2m4f, Soft). He was staying on all the time however so this step up to 2m5f looks a plus and with the Nicky Henderson stable still going very well, he is not one to discount.
2 BURST YA BUBBLE – Showed some promise in two bumpers and hasn’t been disgraced over hurdles, his latest close 4th here over 1m7f representing a big improvement. This step in trip should be a plus as he was staying on steadily towards the finish and his pedigree also hints that this trip will eek out some further improvement. Has place claims.
3 CRIQ ROCK – Had Burst Ya Bubble behind when not jumping with much fluency at times here last month (1m7f, Good to Soft), badly outpaced on the flat by a smart looking Henderson recruit. Judging by his bumper form he should be capable of much better and with the Alan King yard going very well at present he has to be greatly respected.
4 KINGS WALK – Never really threatened in two bumpers for Colin Tizzard but this step up in trip will suit much more as he’s bred to get trips at and over 3 miles. Will need to show much improved form from the bumpers however and probably best watched on his first time in 272 days.
5 LOVENORMONEY – Very interesting recruit to the Warren Greatrex yard, bought for £47,000 at the sales after winning a Point to Point and has a nice enough pedigree. Hard to judge and needs a market check as he could well be dangerous on rules debut.
6 SOMEWHERE TO BE – Showed definite promise in bumpers and ran well enough on hurdling debut at Newbury last month, finishing 6th after pulling very hard in the opening stages (2m, Soft). Unsure as to whether this step up in trip will suit from his pedigree and probably best watched today.
7 TALES OF THE TWEED – Not pushed too hard and the whip only used once when finishing 3rd in his second bumper here last month (1m7f, Good to Soft), showing lots of promise in both runs in bumpers. Should improve for the step up in trip and transition to hurdles with him looking like the stable pick with Barry Geraghty taking the ride, which is a huge plus in itself.
8 TOPOFTHEGAME – Finished 1st in a Point to Point in March and was subsequently bought for £120,000 to join the Paul Nicholls’ stable. Out of Flemensfirth and Nicholls usually does well with these types so needs a market check and to be deeply respected.
9 LAGAVARA – Ran well in an Irish bumper and now with Nigel Twiston-Davies and made a satisfactory stable/hurdles debut when 3rd at Uttoxeter last month (1m7f, Soft). Pedigree suggests the step up in trip should suit but will need to improve to trouble the principles here.
myracing Forecast Prices: 1/1 Criq Rock, 2/1 Topofthegame, 5/1 Tales Of The Tweed, 15/2 Lovenormoney, 10/1 Alpha Male, 16/1 Somewhere To Be, 18/1 Lagavara, 25/1 Burst Ya Bubble, 33/1 Kings Walk