1.15 Newbury – LAC FONTANA (nb)
An interesting novices’ hurdle to get things underway, featuring a previous winner who defeated stablemate/Betfair Hurdle market leader My Tent Or Yours here last time, while there are also a couple of recruits from the level that have the potential to do well in this sphere; there are also one or two others with experience over obstacles that need to up their game.
The selection is trained by Paul Nicholls and is a recruit from the Flat in France, where he was trained by Nicolas Clement to win a middle distance maiden at Lyon Parilly last March on his third outing, and shaped well in defeat on his subsequent three outings, most notably when finishing fourth behind Remus De La Tour in a 12f Listed contest back at Lyon Parilly. The winner that day went on to land a Group 3 contest next time out at the expense of subsequent Arc third Masterstroke (also ran well in defeat at Group 2 level after), whilst the runner-up won a Listed Race and placed at Group 2 level subsequently, so the form looks solid for the level. He was bought privately for current connections not long after and couldn’t be in better hands going into his hurdling debut, while he also has the benefit of receiving weight all round via the weight-for-age allowance, getting 16lbs from main rival Chatterbox; fitness unlikely to be an issue despite an eight month absence, and can put himself firmly in the Triumph Hurdle picture with victory here.
The Nicky Henderson-trained Chatterbox is a son of Poliglote from the family of My Will, and he made a winning start to his career when seeing off Woodyoulikeme in a bumper at Huntingdon last backend, finishing off strongly for hands-and-heels riding to score by a short head in a driving finish. He made his reappearance in an introductory hurdle here towards the end of December, sent off a 5/1 chance against short-priced favourite/stablemate My Tent Or Yours; proved ponderous over one or two flights early on, but travelled well throughout in behind the leaders, shaken up after two out and driven to lead at the last, staying on strongly to see off the aforementioned My Tent Or Yours by four and a half lengths. For all his classy stablemate was given too much to do on bad ground, it was a good performance from this gelding on his hurdling debut, warming to the task in terms of jumping and travelling well, seeing things out well for pressure on the flat. He has to shoulder a 6lbs penalty for that success, but he sets the standard and has scope for significant improvement in this discipline; quicker ground to contend with here and has to give over a stone to some interesting four-year-olds, but it would be something of a surprise if he wasn’t very much involved at the business end.
The Alan King-trained Kuda Huraa is a son of Montjeu who was a fairly useful performer on the Flat for Roger Varian, winning a 12f maiden at Kempton on his second outing last April and landing an 11f handicap at Kempton from a mark of 80 in the summer, acquitting himself with credit in defeat on his subsequent three outings. He was picked up by current connections for 38,000gns and debuted in the same introductory hurdle here won by Chatterbox in November; raced keenly under a waiting ride, moving closer at the top of the straight to track the leading group, ridden after the second last and unable to make any real impression, losing touch after the last to come home in sixth (beaten 22 lengths). He has plenty to do to reverse the form with the re-opposing Chatterbox on that evidence, for all the quicker ground on this occasion should see him in a better light; capable of better in due course, but have to settle for minor honours on this occasion.
The Kim Bailey-trained Milord is a son of Monsun who was a useful performer in Germany for Jens Herschberger, thought good enough to contest the German Derby (beat just two home) and signing off with a win in a conditions contest at Baden-Baden, making all to run out a clear-cut winner. He has contested a pair of decent juvenile hurdles at Doncaster and Cheltenham so far, shaping a fair bit better than the eventual position suggests on both occasions, unable to sustain forward moves on either occasions and not unduly punished. Needs this run for a mark and possible that handicaps will see him in a better light, but shouldn’t be totally underestimated given he has been looked after in a pair of good contests; market likely to prove the ultimate guide to his chances.
The David Pipe-trained Military Precision is a son of Exit To Nowhere who didn’t shape too badly in a bumper at Huntingdon won by Ericht in two years ago, but he proved a disappointing favourite when only seventh in a Taunton bumper in November of that year (both outings for Warren Greatrex). He has so far achieved very little in a pair of novice hurdles at Ffos Las and Taunton a month apart for his current yard, tailing off last time out; needs one more to qualify for a mark and likely that low-grade handicaps will be more his thing.
The Gary Moore-trained Leo Luna is a well-bred son of Galileo who is closely related to Brian Boru and the dam of Workforce among others, and he was sent off the 7/2 joint-market leader for a 10f maiden at Newmarket’s July meeting last summer; proved too green to make an impact and it was much the same story next time in a 12f maiden at the same track a month later, leaving Sir Michael Stoute for 21,000gns last autumn (gelded since last run). He is likely capable of a whole lot better somewhere down the line, simply too green to do himself justice in a pair of maidens last summer; stable does well with these sorts and for all this represents a tough ask on his hurdling debut, no surprise to see him show up well at a price.
4.40 Newbury – PURE SCIENCE (nap)
The concluding Listed bumper looks an excellent renewal of a race that has been won in recent times by the likes of Iris’s Gift, Cornish Rebel, Mad Max, Al Ferof and Shutthefrontdoor, and the majority of the field have impressed to date and look open to above average improvement in what is sure to offer up a contender for next month’s Champion Bumper at Cheltenham.
The selection is a well-bred son of Galileo from the Nigel Twiston-Davies stable who proved easy to back on his belated debut (had been in training with Barry Hills previously) in a newcomers’ bumper at Warwick last month, going off a 5/1 chance; raced in behind the leaders and travelled nicely for much of the way, pushed along three furlongs out but responding and moving through to lead passing the two furlong marker, showing signs of greenness out in front but drawing clear to run out an impressive 9 length winner from the well-fancied No No Mac. It is hard to know quite what he achieved in beating a field consisting of fellow newcomers (form yet to be tested), but he couldn’t have won more impressively and very much appeals as the type to make an above average performer in this sphere; takes on some smart looking sorts now up in grade, but looks a very useful prospect in his own right and it wouldn’t at all surprise to see this well-related son of Galileo maintain his unbeaten record here.
The Harry Fry-trained Oscar Rock is a recruit from the point-to-point sphere who shaped with promise on his rules debut when finishing second to Urubu D’Irlande at Taunton, unable to match the winner’s finishing speed but sticking to his task in good style. He duly went one better next time when landing a well-contested course and distance bumper at the Hennessy meeting a month later, travelling well in behind the leaders and staying on well inside the final furlong to fend off the highly regarded Gone Too Far by a length (very useful O’Faolains Boy a further 15 lengths back in third). The manner in which he travelled last time marked him down as a smart sort, backing that up with a good attitude to see off a well-touted newcomer from a big stable; presumably kept back since for this, and it doesn’t take a lot to see him involved here.
The Paul Nicholls-trained Vago Collonges is a son of Voix Du Nord who won a couple of APQS events in France for Guy Cherel, with one of France’s top juveniles finishing over three lengths behind him on debut. It is perhaps notable that his handler opts to bring him to this race for his British debut, doing the same with 2010 winner Al Ferof before that one went on to run a creditable race in defeat behind Cue Card in the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham. Clearly a very interesting prospect, and any market confidence beforehand would further enhance his already attractive paper claims; receives weight from most of these.
The Emma Lavelle-trained Killyglass is a son of Heron Island who made a winning debut in a bumper at Wexford last October (100/30 favourite) for Stewart Crawford, travelling powerfully under a waiting ride at the rear of the field, moving closer with over half a mile left to run and ridden to lead two furlongs out, drawing clear inside the final furlong to see off Abbey Storm by 4¼ lengths. The runner-up was an impressive winner over hurdles next time, and this gelding has since changed hands for £68,000; looks a smart prospect on the evidence of his smooth debut success, for all his previous yard has them fit on debut, and not to be underestimated by any means now mixing it with fellow promising sorts.
The Jamie Snowden-trained Joanne One built on her debut promise to win a strongly-contested Listed mares’ bumper at Navan last November for John Kieley, travelling strongly close to the pace and quickening clear once instructed inside the final furlong to see off good yardstick Fickle Fortune by 4 lengths. She was purchased privately soon after by current connections and looks well worth her place in this lineup following on from that good win last time, though she does encounter vastly different ground this time and takes on the boys now.
The Charlie Egerton-trained Seedling is a son of Cockney Rebel from a smart staying family, and he created a good impression when landing a 1m 5f junior bumper at Lingfield last December, for which he was sent off a not unfancied 15/2 chance. He raced a little worse than midfield and travelled fluently throughout, shaken up to challenge off the home bend and stayed on well to lead inside the final furlong to see off Berkeley Avenue by ¾-length. For all this week’s impressive juvenile hurdle winner Chris Pea Green was back seventh, the form of that debut win overall needs improving upon now stepping into a hot Listed contest, and he was bred to be suited by the make and shape of the race on debut; likely to find a few of these too good.