This is a competitive Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle, see our betting tips and the full race preview below.
IN SUMMARY: An interesting opener on the card and a chance is taken on ROYAL DEBUTANTE here. She’s got a fair bit of form to her name and with normal progression, she could feature here for a trainer that excels with these types of runners. Little Acorn should improve again whilst Just Milly is worth a second look in the betting on her rules debut.
1 JUST MILLY – Sprung a bit of a surprise in a Novice Hurdle back in December when running out a 14/1 winner of a fifteen runner contest at Doncaster. She was given a good ride that day having been held up out the back before being delivered at the last and she galloped on well at the finish. She’ll appreciate this extra furlong and conditions are the same as her last victory. Carries a 6lb penalty but she should be competitive again here.
2 DEWBERRY – Beaten a long way in five starts to date and she failed to complete the course last time out at Warwick. She will face some better ground than she has to date which should help but she’s looked all at sea over hurdles having been held up and never able to quicken in the middle part of a race. She’ll be a big price here and will be seen to better effect in handicaps.
3 JOY’S SPIRIT – Point-to-pointer who finished fifth of ten on debut before falling when well-beaten over 2m 4f last time out. She makes her rules debut today for a yard that have an excellent strike rate here (35% with 30 winners from 85 runners) and she’s likely to be popular in the betting having been supported in point to points already. She gets the assistance of a 7lb allowance from her jockey which should see her competitive here. Respected.
4 KATY P – Joined Philip Hobbs from the Jessica Harrington yard last October and she’s run with credit on three starts to date in the UK. She finished second in a National Hunt Flat Race and although disappointing in a maiden hurdle, showed progression to finish third at Hereford over 2 miles in a Class 4 Novice Hurdle. She should do better now stepped up in trip and she’s one of the likelier types in this. Yard have been in red hot form with 9 winners from their last 34 runners.
5 LISTEN FOR ME – Three runs in point-to-points to date and she showed a good deal of progression to finish second on the last of those, beaten just 1 3/4 lengths. She had been pulled up on her last two occasions and it’ll be interesting to see how she fares stepping down in trip to todays extended 2m 4f having raced exclusively over 3 miles. One to watch closely in the betting. Yard have a 6% strike rate here.
6 LITTLE ACORN – Has run to a modest level for Harry Fry having been stepped up into novice company on her last two runs. She wasn’t beaten far in a Class 3 contest at Leicester and she’s the type that will continue to progress with more and more racing. She’s looked outpaced on her last couple of runs so today’s extra distance will suit although she may want slightly softer conditions. Worth plenty of respect for an excellent jockey/trainer combination.
7 ROYAL DEBUTANTE – Second runner in this for Paul Webber and she was only beaten 2 lengths over a furlong shorter here two starts ago. On the face of it, that piece of form entitles her to get involved at some stage in this race although the handicapper has rated her 108 so she’s obviously vulnerable to the unexposed types in this. She’s another that will enjoy today’s conditions and she could be a decent price in this. Interesting.
8 SHE TOLD YOU SO – Mark Wall has sent out a winner from his only runner here although that perfect record shouldn’t continue here. His mare has run three times to date and has been beaten out of sight on all three occasions. Two of those runs came over hurdles and she never got going over shorter than this so the trip should be something of a slight positive. She’s one for handicaps down the line and is avoided here.
9 SUGAR STORM – Very-well beaten in two starts to date in two flat races. She can be forgiven for finding a Cheltenham flat race too much to handle on debut but it was disappointing to see her fall out the back of the TV on her last start at Bangor and she’s best watched on her hurdles debut for Fergal O’Brien. Trip should be a positive.
10 TIME WISE – Beaten 145 lengths and pulled up in two Novice Hurdle contests to date and it should be a similar story here. She’s looked out of her depth on similar terms as todays against modest enough opposition and she’s unlikely to strike in this company. Trainer has a 7% strike rate and she’s easily avoided here.