A massive improver this season for Harry Fry, AIR HORSE ONE has one more jolt of progress left in him after the handicapper has been seemingly lenient on his latest great effort. He won his third straight race this year when taking an Ascot Handicap in comfortable fashion and he was far from disgraced despite being raised 8lb when forth behind Artic Fire in the County Hurdle at the Festival. He’s only been raised a pound which seems generous with how competitive that race was and he has conditions again to suit under Niall Madden. He is entitled to be heavily involved at his best and is taken to win this and gain his forth hurdling victory from five runs.
Of all the Willie Mullins entries, Ruby Walsh has decided to side with Bonbon Au Meil which is a very interesting choice. A French import by Andrea & Graham Wylie, the six year old by Khalkevi made his Irish debut back in March when a very good second to Hidden Cyclone at Leopardstown, keeping on well but headed on the run in by the more experienced rival. He was perhaps disappointing when only just getting the better of Lilshane at Cork two weeks later, just clinging on. He should be happier back up in trip on handicap debut, with a mark of 137 perhaps underestimating him a tad after the step back in trip nearly backfired on his latest start. There would have to be reservations about the ground as he’s raced mainly on soft, but if handling it he’s entitled to be involved and needs a second look.
Rebecca Curtis brings over Geordie Des Champs who made some promsing steps forward this season for connections and still to some degree remains unexposed with only six hurdling runs under his belt. Pipping Wylde Magic at Chepstow in December, he improved on that effort to narrowly be denied at Newbury in December, perhaps paying for his early race keenness under Barry Geraghty. Although disappointing when upped into Grade 2 company at Warwick on his penultimate start, he atoned for that when third in the Alder Hey at Aintree, only beaten around a length. He’s been raised 5lb as a result but he’s looked progressive bar that graded blip, so he may well be up to brushing off the rise. Conditions are to suit and Jonathan Moore takes the ride, so he shouldn’t be too far away and is respected.
Half a length ahead of him in that race was Jonjo O’Neill’s Dream Berry, whose been keeping his form well this season and should be coming home strongly as per usual with Luke Dempsey taking the ride. Winning a good quality handicap at Market Rasen back in February, he was raised 5lb as a result but that wasn’t enough to deter him from putting up another good effort when third in the Silver Plate at Kempton in March. His latest second to Rather Be in the Alder Hey when half a length ahead of Geordie Des Champs was another brave effort, but more is required from 6lb higher. He may well be up to it if improving again and has definite each way claims for a yard hitting great form.
After winning last time out, Thomas Hobson shouldn’t be underestimated under a 7lb for his latest win at Fairyhouse eleven days ago. Although out of form in the two runs beforehand, he bounced back in a big way when winning comfortably ahead of Veinard and as a result has been given this weight rise. He may well be up to shouldering it though as this step up in trip will be no problem for him and Katie Walsh is a good jockey booking for the seven year old. He’s followed up his wins in the past and shouldn’t be underestimated even though he’s been shunned by Ruby Walsh on this occasion.