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Juvenile Hurdlers 2021/22


Bachelors Hall
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I have had to deal with tennis elbow and shoulder impingement in the past and even though physios are the qualified experts, time and keeping limber in general has had the best effect on both ailments. You are dead on about the mental thing. Couple of years ago when on a trail, I took a fall on a section of loose gravel. For a while, whenever I returned to that section, I instinctively went slow even though that actually increases the chances of a crash on such a surface...

The wind might blow some off the surface but if there is no let up then it will still get into the ground. Not a tipster and not a tip, but the sterner test that should ensue does fill the remaining unticked box I had for Saint Riquier. 

Twilight Twist 4/1 now... Saint Riquier and Sabre Jet are the ones in blue... It's as if someone has read the preview :D 

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2 hours ago, Bachelors Hall said:

I have had to deal with tennis elbow and shoulder impingement in the past and even though physios are the qualified experts, time and keeping limber in general has had the best effect on both ailments. You are dead on about the mental thing. Couple of years ago when on a trail, I took a fall on a section of loose gravel. For a while, whenever I returned to that section, I instinctively went slow even though that actually increases the chances of a crash on such a surface...

The wind might blow some off the surface but if there is no let up then it will still get into the ground. Not a tipster and not a tip, but the sterner test that should ensue does fill the remaining unticked box I had for Saint Riquier. 

Twilight Twist 4/1 now... Saint Riquier and Sabre Jet are the ones in blue... It's as if someone has read the preview :D 

Never in doubt ?

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I fancy LAISHANN in the Tattersalls Ireland 3 year old hurldle at 1.15 at Fairyhouse today in fact it's my daily nap.

Was 4th on rules debut at Punchestown over 16f 21 days ago & should come on for that run for the Elliott / Kennedy combination.  

10th , the winner was a reserve horse of J.O'Briens , ah well ☹️

Edited by calva decoy
results update
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  • 2 weeks later...

Apologies for radio silence. While mood and general wellbeing are perfectly manageable, conditions for producing content are not ideal. If I am not exhausted from work, the constant blaring of the downstairs neighbour's telly makes it impossible to do any work. I have joined the local library though and while toilet breaks are an issue when the place is unstaffed, I have at least been able to write a 6,115 word essay for tomorrow's very exciting Prestbury Hurdle. (341 word tl;dr). Enjoy!

Cheltenham's Prestbury Hurdle will be the first graded contest of the season in the division. For as long as there has been a Mackeson Gold Cup, a juvenile hurdle has also been held at the meeting. Prior to its elevation to Grade 2 status in 2004, the last two horses to place in both the Prestbury and the Triumph were Katarino, winner of both events on 1998/99, and Against The Grain who was second in each contest during the 1984/85 season. However, since 2004, the race has produced two Triumph winners (Katchit 2006/07, Defi du Seuil 2016/17), five Triumph seconds (Fair Along 2005/06, Franchoek 2007/08, Barizan 2009/10, Far West 2012/13 and Adagio 2020/21) and another five who would finish third. Indeed, while the Finesse and Adonis have produced three winners of the Triumph, the Prestbury has been the most prolific British Triumph Hurdle trial in terms of combined wins and placings. Furthermore, since 2004, the Prestbury also had seven Finale winners, three winners of the Anniversary, and another three in Punchestown's Champion 4YO contest. Five Prestbury graduates ran into a place in the Fred Winter, although none of them won either contest. 

This year's renewal looks up to scratch as with the exceptions of Impulsive One (unlikely to be suited by Cheltenham), Porticello (would concede weight) and In This World (won last week), the country's leading juveniles to date are set to face the starter. Knight Salute and Magistrato set the standard on their wins at Kempton and Chepstow respectively, Aliomaana receives a helpful allowance, the undefeated Mister Allegro has revealed himself an absolute natural while Caramelised and Addosh posted fine performances during the early season. French flat recruits Rocky Man and Saint Riquier have shown enough to win races in the sphere and the field is completed by Gary Moore's debutant Yorksea. 

Given the quality of runner Cheltenham typically attracts, the average beaten DIs of 1.00 median and 1.36 mean are already low. Nevertheless, the winning DIs of 0.97 and 1.08 are lower still which is indicative of the necessity for stamina at the venue. While few would claim that Cheltenham is an especially easy course to jump around, its clear round rate of 97.07% is still one of the highest in the country, suggesting that bad jumpers tend not to get sent to Cheltenham. Hurdles experience is beneficial in this contest as debutants in the sphere are without a win from eighteen attempts, although four (Afsoun, Roc d'Apsis, Baraka de Thaix and Hargam) have reached the frame. Moreover, winning hurdling form is also quite essential as the races only previously successful maidens were Pistolet Noir (second favourite in the 2009 renewal) and Sam Winner (already thrice runner-up at Auteuil in 2010). The going at Cheltenham is currently good, good to soft in places, and there is no rain forecast overnight.

Triumph Odds
Addosh 25/1
Magistrato 25/1
Rocky Man 25/1
Knight Salute 33/1
Mister Allegro 40/1
Caramelised 66/1
Aliomaana 100/1

Caramelised bc Alan King f4-0-0 (73) 75 j3-2-1 (125) 116 120 
Dansili (Cozzene){9-e}(1.67) 2/2 Lord Condi 1st 2m1½f Novices' Hurdle, Plumpton 2018
On top of being the winningmost trainer of juvenile hurdlers since 2004/05, Alan King has a winner to runner rate of 47.53% and an overall strike rate of 23.25%. His record in this particular contest is not without merit as he has landed back to back renewals with Katchit and Franchoek in 2006 and 2007, although his best placing from eight since Franchoek came when Cracker Factory finished runner-up in 2018. This year, he is represented by a Caramelised. A four race maiden for Richard Hannon, he had finished nearer last than first on each outing and had shown himself a free running sort. His rating of 73 is well above average for a summer recruit and his hurdling career began with a double at Stratford in July and August. Concerns over an inability to settle manifested on his hurdling debut as he pulled hard up to the point he was sent for home. Shaken up to take a length advantage on the approach to the last, it took no more than a hands and heels drive to quickly extend his lead and cross the line seven lengths to the good. Caramelised posted a safe round of jumping without being consistently fluent, and the form of the race was boosted when the runner-up, Fred Bear, landed division one of Caramelised's contest half an hour before he faced the starter himself. Backed as though defeat was out of the question, he went from 4/7 to 4/9 in the ring, causing all his rivals to be squeezed out by his market share. Initially tucked in just behind the leaders, he settled better than he had first time around and though he was lit up after the third, Tom Cannon regained the bit by the time they reached the hill second time; which is also where Caramelised moved stylishly into the lead. Shaken up ever so gently on the turn for home, he entered the straight with an advantage of half-a-dozen lengths and, without any impetus from the rider, that gap was extended to thrice the amount at the line with Addosh nineteen lengths behind in second. Apart from getting slightly big at the first and maybe brushing the top of two out, Caramelised put in an exhibition round of jumping that would not have looked out of place during a veteran hurdler's schooling session. Furthermore, the fact that he completed the run-in in a faster time than the previous race while on the bridle shows that he has a tremendous amount of speed for the division. Caramelised was last seen in a useful Market Rasen contest that has been traditionally targeted by his handler. The withdrawal of Sacre Pierre made his task easier on paper and while he was slightly weak in the market, he was still sent off the 5/6 favourite. Very keen going to post, Caramelised also struggled to settle in the race itself and was taking a keen hold behind the slow pace set by the leaders. He found himself left in the lead at the fourth and while he did not go tearing off in front, he was never travelling with any particular ease. His hurdling was also much below the standard of what he posted second time out as he made errors at every flight; big at the first, close at the second, tight into the third, big again at the fourth, right at the fifth, clipped the sixth, untidy at two out and tight over the last. Though he traded at 1.60 in-running, a fraction lower than his starting price, he was never able to put his mark on the race and had little answer once he forfeited his lead shortly after the penultimate flight. It was not a disgraceful performance as he was still better than all of his other outings apart from his impressive Stratford win. It is more likely he was hampered by the sense of occasion on this particular day, and his being left in an involuntary lead, than his being exposed as no better than this. He could possibly benefit from a gelding operation, but for the time being, connections have placed their faith in a first-time hood. Caramelised's best form is within half a stone of the leading contenders here and given he had feasible excuses at Market Rasen, he should not be generally written off. Nevertheless, while he is likely to benefit from the way this contest is set to be run, he would still have something to prove in this company.

Knight Salute bg Milton Harris f7-1-1 (75) 85 j2-2-0 (126) 114 127
Sir Percy (Unfuwain){11-c}(0.50) 2/1 Kalko 1st Juvenile Hurdle, Kelso 1993
Costing 14,000 guineas at the Tattersalls July Sale, Knight Salute would not have caught many an eye with his purchase fee. Starting his career with Andrew Balding, he followed up a debut second at Wolverhampton with a win at Sandown before being allowed to take his chance in the listed Stonehenge Stakes at Salisbury. Not disgraced in finishing fifth of seven, he shaped as though he would be suited by further; as per his pedigree. He subsequently finished last on his final outing at two and on all three starts at three, although these runs all came over an inadequate trip. Still within the 82nd percentile of rated flat recruits it was surprising to see him drift out to 18/1 on his hurdling debut at Sedgefield towards the end of September. Racing in a first time hood, he was keen while held up in the rear. Nevertheless, he jumped neatly up to the closing stages where he missed the sixth, reached at the penultimate flight and got in close to the last. Notwithstanding, these latter errors were not to the detriment of his performance given his superiority on the day. Making very smooth headway towards the end of the back, he moved strongly into second place over two out and cruised into the lead approaching the last whereafter he was ridden clear to pass the line nine and six lengths clear of the remainder. Though it was standard fare as far as Sedgefield is concerned, and the winning time was modest, the twenty length fourth finished a quarter of that distance behind the winner when third at Wetherby. He was next seen at Kempton four weeks ago, having his second outing at a more fashionable venue against representatives of more fashionable yards. He was uneasy in the exchanges during the day, but he held a strong chance on paper and was backed in the ring from 13/2 to 9/2 at the off. Tracking the leaders off a fairly modest tempo, Mitch Bastyan had to display good strength to keep a good hold of his mount. Nevertheless, the jockey conserved enough energy to have Knight Salute in a useful position turning into the straight. Though momentarily outpaced between the final two flights, Knight Salute gained enough momentum to jump the last with a share of the lead and was able to see off his rival to the tune of a couple of lengths at the line. While he made mistakes under pressure first time at Sedgefield, there were no errors worth reporting in this contest and with his strong travelling and fluent jumping, Knight Salute posted the strongest winning performance seen on a British course to that point. Trainer Milton Harris continues to be in outstanding form and though it has been a good while since the yard last tasted graded success, Knight Salute has a live chance of breaking that spell. 

Magistrato bg Paul Nicholls j2-1-1 (131) 126
Kapgarde (Poliglote){3-d}(1.00) 1/0 Franche Alliance 2nd Prix Beugnot (L,63.0), Enghien 2015 
https://www.equidia.fr/chevaux/magistrato
Francois-Marie Cottin has sent the likes of Sanctuaire, Napolitain and Star de Mohaison across the channel over the years. Cousin David has yet to match those levels as an exporter although Busselton was a creditable sort last term and this season has seen Mr Cottin take the French three-year-old division by storm with a team including leading colts Paradiso and San Bruit, and leading fillies Matilda du Berlais and La Boetie. He also saddled the first two home in the Prix Grandak prior to the pair crossing the channel for pastures new. The Prix Grandak is a debutant contest with a rich history, being the launchpad of domestic stars Saint des Saints, Bonito Du Berlais, Beaumec De Houelle, On The Go and Beaumec De Houelle, as well as talented exports in Frodon, Far West, We Have A Dream and Quel Destin. Making his debut in this year’s edition, taken by recent Wensleydale winner Porticello, was Magistrato who in joining Paul Nicholls follows in the hoofprints of Far West, Frodon, Quel Destin, Qualando and Marracudja who all started in the same contest. Fresh on his racecourse debut, Magistrato soon established a clear lead which he would ohld to the final flight where he was headed by Porticello. Jumping better overall than the winner, he done more by a lack of pace than fatigue and still managed to increase his advantage over the third placed Imprenable - himself winning his next two starts before finishing second in the Group II Prix Georges de Talhouet-Roy. File au Poteau in fourth won a useful conditions hurdle at Auteuil earlier this month, fifth placed Coup de Coeur is one of the better chasers of his generation, the sixth placed Mourinho Has won a valuable handicap at the venue and the only other finisher is a dual winner in the provinces. A son of Kapgarde, Magistrato's dam showed useful form over nineteen furlongs on heavy ground and is herself a half-sister to La Bague Au Roi and Kaysersberg. As such, the 3000 meters at Auteuil was unlikely to suit and while it is to his credit that he performed satisfactorily, it perhaps indicates that he would be a more longer term prospect. Nevertheless, Magistrato also looked a useful tool for this season when making a winning British debut at Chepstow five weeks ago. Though money for Rocky Man saw him drift from a morning show of 2/5, Magistrato was still strongly fancied first time and after being available at 8/11 in the ring, contracted back into 4/7 at the off. Keen in the early stages, he made his own running at a steady tempo and though threatened for the lead at the top of the straight, was in total control at the distance and galloped on relentlessly to run out a twelve length winner from Rocky Man. Apart from being slightly untidy at the first and slow away from the fifth, there was no cause for complaint in the round of jumping as he confirmed his Auteuil proficiency. Though the race did not look strong outside of the front two, twenty-two length third placed Nazwa afforded the form some credence when finishing second off 103 on a Warwick handicap. Paul Nicholls has won this race five times from eleven runners since 2004, with two of those winners (Far West and Quel Destin) making their British debuts in the same Chepstow contest. Magistrato has the profile of a long term prospect, but he has already proven himself on good ground over the minimum trip and the likely strong pace should also suit him. 

Mister Allegro bg Anthony Honeyball f12-1-1 (50) 62 j2-2-0 (119) 109 123 
Bernardini (Shamardal){1-e}(2.16) 3/2 Meganisi 2nd 2m½f Condiitonals' Handicap Hurdle (133), Aintree 2013
Racing nine times as a two-year-old for Mark Johnston and collecting a Kempton nursery off 48 along the way, Mister Allegro was sold 13,000 guineas at last year's Tattersalls Autumn sale. His first appearance for Anthony Honeyball was reasonable for his level, finishing fourth of nine in a ten furlong Chepstow handicap off 55. However, he would beat only one of twelve rivals home in two subsequent outings which saw him start at 40/1 for his hurdles debut at Ludlow early in October. His profile for hurdling was not without merit as Bernardini (Forth Bridge, Bordoni) had two winners from five in the sphere, and his new trainer had a solid 22.22% winner to runner rate going into the contest. The apparent quality of his opposition still made his task look a difficult one, but his endeavour was made simpler by a the neatest round of jumping in the contest; besmirched only by his clipping the top of the final two flights. Travelling well in a prominent position, he was momentarily caught for toe on the home turn, but was soon pestering the leader and after jumping to the front at the last, was ridden out to score by nearly two lengths. The winning time was not great and a couple of his rivals appeared to underperform, although the runner-up did subsequently land short odds at Sedgefield before finishing second in the Wensleydale. Mister Allegro made his second hurdles appearance at Wincanton three weeks ago and while he drifted from a morning show of 9/4 to 4/1 at flagfall, he was still sent off the second favourite. Slightly keen in the early stages, Mister Allegro immediately put his stamp on the race and with quick jumping, passed the stands with a lead of over half-a-dozen lengths. Reigned in slightly on entering the back, his advantage was whittled down to within a length when getting a breather on the turn for home. Nevertheless, a quick leap at the penultimate flight saw him re-establish his advantage and his acceleration from that hurdle put the race to bed as he went on to pass the line a comprehensive seven length winner. Runner-up Sonning was a well fancied newcomer for Alan King while the third placed Burristo is an experienced yardstick who subsequently went one better at Ludlow. The degree to which the switch to hurdles has animated Mister Allegro can not be understated. Since 2004/05, just 38 of the 2,122 juvenile hurdlers rated 50 or below on the flat would win more than once; with only a handful exceeding what Mister Allegro has already achieved. Though he already looks close to the finished article, there may yet be further to come and connections decided to keep hold of him after he was initially entered in the Tattersalls Horses-in-Training sale. On flat form, it would have been difficult to envisage Mister Allegro keeping this kind of company. Nevertheless, given that he hurdles very well and his jumps form has discernible substance, it would be dangerous to write him off. If there is to be any uncertainty against his profile, it may be he finds his stamina stretched over this course at the forecast pace. 

Rocky Man bc Dan Skelton f2-1-0 (-) j1-0-1 (-) 105 112
Doctor Dino (Speedmaster){7-a}(0.33) 2/1 Rosarina 1st 3500m 4yo Conditions Hurdle, Toulouse 2009
https://www.equidia.fr/chevaux/rocky-man
Henri-Alex Pantall has a more expensive graduate in The Famous Five while Dan Skelton has already taken in Message Personnel. Flying under the radar however is the twice raced son of Doctor Dino, Rocky Man. Half of Doctor Dino's British and Irish juveniles, which includes Sceau Royal, Good Ball and Dino Mite, won during their first campaigns and his three-year-old jumpers in France have an outstanding winner to runner rate of 42.86% from ninety-one horses. Though the damline is less prolific in the sphere, which is understandable given that the third dam was a Chilean import, Rocky Man's auntie did win a four-year-old hurdle at Toulouse. After making an inconspicuous debut at Machecoul back in February, Rocky Man got off the mark in emphatic style when winning a restricted two mile contest at Saumur. Initially racing in the lead, he was restrained to settle behind the leaders passing the stands first time. He would take up the running again leaving the back for the final time and was ridden into the best part of a ten length lead at the distance before being eased in the last hundred metres. The race, being worth just €10,500, has not produced any subsequent winners, although the well beaten runner-up has run consistently in subsequent outings so his valeur of 29.0 (63.8) gives some indication of the form's merit. Rocky Man's DI of 0.33, along with his winning over two miles during the spring, may leave him vulnerable to the pacier juveniles in the upper echelons, and he found himself at the hands of a comprehensive drubbing by Magistrato on his British/hurdling debut at Chepstow five weeks ago. He does possess a strong reputation however and was subject to solid market support beforehand which saw him sent off the 3/1 second favourite. Tracking the leader throughout, posted a perfectly acceptable round of jumping with only his being slightly steady and tight at the first, and somewhat untidy and slow getting away from the last, being his only blemishes. Rocky Man briefly threatened the lead at the top of the straight, but had no answer for Magistrato's relentless galloping. Dan Skelton has a strong looking team of juveniles for this campaign and his two previous runners in this contest have been good ones; Allmankind won in 2019 while the useful Cabot Cliffs was fourth last season. There is plenty to like about Rocky Man and he should be able to get off the mark this term. However, there is no obvious reason why he might reverse placings with Magistrato and he may be suited by an even stronger test than the one offered here. 

Saint Riquier grc Ian Williams f3-1-0 (-) - j2-0-1 (112) 100 110
Le Havre (Montjeu){5-g}(0.60) 3/2 Fashion Mix 1st 3300m 3yo Conditions Hurdle, Cagnes-sur-Mer 2004
https://www.equidia.fr/chevaux/saint-riquier
Several former inmates of Mikel Delzangles have done well in juvenile hurdles with the likes of Ranjaan and Dispour contributing to a solid 27.78% winner to runner rate. While his higher rated exports often command six figures in public auction, Saint Riquier joined Ian Williams after getting knocked down for €33,000 at the Arqana Summer Sale. Well beaten at Fontainbleau on his sole outing at two when slow out of the stalls, he ran a nothing race on his February reappearance at Machecoul over 2350m in testing conditions. He returned after a four month break in a 2200m French bred's maiden contest at Erbray. Initially held up in touch, he moved into a more prominent position during the second circuit and while he did not completely understand the game, Saint Riquier did enough work in the straight to eventually win by a short neck. The runner-up, in receipt of three and a half kilos, is rated in the early sixties and the remaining form would give Saint Riquier a mark on the cusp of 70. Le Havre has had one winner from six in Britain and Ireland, while his winner to runner rate in France, where his progeny are headed by the useful Chaptal, is a solid 18.92%. There are few jumpers on the damline, although Fragrant Mix at 3/1 is a reasonably capable sire of jumpers. Saint Riquier's British/Hurdling debut came at Ludlow early last month and there was little confidence in the market. Starting the day at 10/3, he opened on course at 13/2 before drifting out to 10/1 at the off. Starting the race keenly but settling better before long, his hurdling left a fair bit to be desired. Stumbling slightly on landing at the first, he was tight at the third, steady and close over the fourth, slow over the next before rather missing the sixth. Notwithstanding, after initially racing in the rear, he made good headway along the back and despite getting baulked at the penultimate hurdle, was still in a challenging position on the run to the last. However, he skewed badly over the final flight and could only plug on at one pace to finish fourth behind Mister Allegro and Genuflex by just under six lengths. Saint Riquier was then seen at Huntingdon on Halloween where he was more solid in the market and sent off the 13/8 favourite. Held up in midfield and settling better in first-time cheekpieces, Saint Riquier also improved in the hurdling department. Unfazed by getting blocked on landing at the first, he jumped his hurdles well enough with his only errors being getting close to the fifth and skewing when slow at the next. Making headway to join the leaders at the top of the straight, he led briefly on the run between the final two and held a share of the lead at the last. However, while he ran gamely enough to the line, Alan King's Twilight Twist was able to pull out a decisive length with the front two pulling a long way clear. Ian Williams does not typically overface his juveniles at Cheltenham and indeed had the Fred Winter second in 2005. Nevertheless, his two runners in this contest failed to fire and while Saint Riquier should not end the season a maiden, he would have most to find out of the experienced runners here. 

Yorksea chg Gary Moore f6-1-0 (33,0 - 72.6) 66
Sea The Stars (Pivotal){13-c}(1.82) 7/4 Proschema 2nd West Yorkshire Hurdle (G2), Wetherby 2021 
https://www.equidia.fr/chevaux/yorksea
Gary Moore has a healthy record with his French flat recruits with ten of his twenty-three winning as juveniles, four of who would score first time out. The latest such horse to see a British hurdle is Yorksea, who fetched €32,000 Arqana Summer. He was initially trained by Frédéric Head, whose former inmates have a strong 45.45% winner to runner rate, the strongest of these being Youmdor from last season. However, given the general strength of his exports, only 21.05% will show improvement for the switch to hurdles which would be essential for the 72.6 rated Yorksea. Making his debut at Deauville last November, Yorksea cut little ice first time and would also finish down the field twice at Chantilly as well as on his handicap debut at Saint Cloud off 32 (70.4). A step down in class and a revised valeur of 30.5 (67.1) saw him get off the mark at the fifth time of asking in a 2100m handicap at Angers towards the end of May in a race named after his owner's wonder mare Goldikova. Starting at 16/1, Yorksea raced on the outer and moved from midfield to a more prominent position a mile from home. He went into a clear lead at the six furlong point and though he was headed at the distance when turning for home, he rallied gamely against the rail to get up in the final strides from a next time out winner. Yorksea's last race in France came in a good ground Saint Cloud handicap over 3000m in mid-June. Racing prominently once again, he looked in trouble turning into the straight and faded late on to finish just over four lengths behind the winner in fifth. Sire Sea The Stars (Starchitect, Stars Over The Sea) has a solid 33.33% winner to runner rate in the division, although Pivotal's record as a damsire has a more modest rate of 13.24%. Out of the Group One winning filly Queen's Jewel, Yorksea's damline offers no clues insofar as hurdling is concerned with its roots in Argentina. Useful hurdler Proschema does appear at 7/4, although that is so distant enough that it passes into trivial rather than useful information. Overall, Yorksea still looks an interesting recruit to the division and there are races to be won with him. However, Gary Moore has had just one placing from seven runners in this contest (Botox Has second in 2019) so unless Yorksea is schooling and training like a Champion Hurdler, his task looks a stiff one here. 

Addosh bf Stuart Edmunds f11-1-4 (71) 78 j3-1-1 (108) 96 108
The Gurkha (Dubawi){10-a}(0.63) 3/2 State Crown 1st 2m1f Handicap Hurdle (110), Newton Abbot 2021
Of all the active trainers in Britain and Ireland who have had fifteen of more juvenile hurdlers since 2004/05, only Nicky Henderson and Paul Nicholls have a strike rate higher than the 25.64% of Stuart Edmunds. Before Addosh made her hurdling debut at Stratford, the yard's first-time strike rate of 42.86% was bettered only by Nicky Henderson and Desmond McDonogh. Prior to selling for 15,000 guineas at Tattersalls in July, she had amassed a win and three places on the flat for Hugo Palmer and her BHA mark of 71 made her strong at the weights both at Stratford and again here. Her pedigree is not without its potential either as while The Gurkha is one of Galileo's speedier sons, he is related to good jumpers and the sireline does well in the sphere. Damsire Dubawi has a 26.67% winner to runner rate in that role which includes Leoncavallo and State Crown - the latter being a 3/2 relative of Addosh who won a handicap hurdle as a juvenile last season. Steady in the market throughout the day, she did drift out to 15/2 in the Stratford ring, but this was on account of the confidence behind Caramelised and she still started second favourite. Held up in the early stages, she pulled hard in patches but was able to settle reasonably well before too long. Towards the rear at the fifth, she made robust headway in a short amount of time along the back and was travelling strongly just behind the leaders two flights later. Addosh was the last pursuer on the bridle approaching the home turn, but had been completely outpaced by the winner who was long gone before they could see the stands. Nevertheless, while no match for the winner, the remainder of the field were left in her wake and there were sixteen and thirteen lengths between herself, the third and the fourth. Addosh jumped some of her hurdles quite well, although she was steep at the first, very untidy at the third and low at the last while also showing a slight tendency to go right. Overall, it was a satisfactory introduction there was enough to suggest she has a future in this sphere. This suggestion manifested in the traditionally useful Class 2 contest at Market Rasen five weeks ago where her chances were much stronger than the 14/1 offered overnight. She was even available at 9/1 in the ring and while her being backed into 5/1 by flagfall may have been stable confidence, it would very feasibly have been an appropriate self-adjustment of the market. Just as she had been on her debut at Stratford, she was held up in the rear once again; albeit off a much slower pace. Though rather hopping over the first, she jumped well in this contest and travelled powerfully to get within striking distance as the pace increased around the home turn. She was slightly tight at the penultimate flight but this did not cost her any momentum and needed only to be nudged on the approach to the last to get to the front. Popping over the flight neatly, she was pushed out to score by a comfortable five and a half lengths. Reversing Stratford placings in no uncertain terms with Caramelised, this was a big step up on her debut performance. Addosh was still a little off her flat best but the way she travelled and jumped is indicative of her fulfilling the promise shown first time round. Her latest outing came in the Wensleydale Hurdle at Wetherby just over a fortnight ago where she appeared to face a stern examination, although she did receive outside support in the ring, trimmed into 9/1 from an opening 11/1. Settled fairly comfortably while held up in last, she was still bringing up the rear when turning into the straight. Nevertheless, Addosh was travelling well on the approach to three out and had moved to within a length of the lead when missing the flight, stumbling and unseating her rider. This was an unfortunate turn of events as apart from going right when slow at the first, she had posted a very tidy round of jumping to that point. Her departure came before the race had unfolded in earnest and any speculation on how she may have finished the race would be absolute guesswork. She did appear to be suited by the slow tempo of the contest, in keeping with her previous best efforts coming with an emphasis on speed which is a luxury unlikely to be afforded here. 

Aliomaana chf Milton Harris f5-0-2 (74) 75 j4-1-2 (115) 108 119
Raven's Pass (Sea The Stars){8-f}(1.29) 2/1 Celestial Force 1st 2m1f Handicap Hurdle (120), Newton Abbot 2021
Though she failed to win for John Gosden, Aliomaana grabbed a couple of seconds on the all weather prior to fetching 17,000 guineas at the Tattersalls July Sale. Juveniles formerly trained by John Gosden often leave little wriggle room for their new handlers, although Milton Harris got three wins out of Pyramid Place last term and Aliomaana made it two from two at Perth towards the end of September. Quietly fancied ahead of her hurdling debut at Stratford in August, she was not the tidiest jumper but raced with plenty of enthusiasm before tiring late on to finish third. The first part of that story was similar two weeks later at Perth as, pulling herself into the lead shortly after the start, she was slightly distracted when steady at the first, but got over the second alright despite wandering on the approach. Though still fairly fresh, she had settled into a sensible rhythm up front and while she was rather skewed at the third and briefly lost her footing on some loose turf passing the stands, was still decent enough over the next. Hopping through the next in a fashion quite accurately described by Mike Cattermole as unconventional, Mitch Bastyan cajoled her at the right moment over the next two and got very neat leaps out of her in the process. While Aliomaana briefly looked in danger from the looming presence of New Reality, she bounded on nicely on the run to the last and appeared the likeliest winner at the time. Unfortunately, having a lapse in concentration, she did not lift her feet high enough and ended up rolling onto the ground. Mercifully, she got up ok and showed no ill effects from the experience when putting thing right on her return to the Scottish venue. She started the day as even money favourite and though she drifted during the morning and reached 7/4 on course, she was trimmed into 11/8 at the off. She was a little buzzy down at the start, but this is more due to her lively character than any temperament issues. Aliomaana was sent straight into the lead and showing good speed both over the hurdles and in between, her advantage was a wide one by the time she passed the stands. It would be folly to suggest her rivals gave her too generous a lead however as they were constrained by their own slow jumping as much as they were outpaced by the leader. Furthermore, while Aliomaana had been untidy at times during her first two spins over hurdles, save for an unorthodox quasi-hop at the first and getting tight at the second; neither imperfection costing her any momentum; she was very neat and nimble. Putting in another acceleration three from home, she travelled strongly to the penultimate flight where she wandered on the approach and got in rather close. She was ridden away from that hurdle before being allowed to jump the last as steadily as she liked. Popping over the final hurdle, she was pushed out to see the race through, crossing the line twenty-nine lengths clear of a spread-eagled field. While the margin may appear to be too good to be true, and her rivals did jump slowly, her completing the course in a time at least two seconds quicker than any of the older horses in the other three races held at the trip on the card affords her performance a great deal of substance. Aliomaana was last seen in a fillies' contest at Fakenham seventeen days ago where she was sent off the 11/8 favourite. Such a venue seemed ideal for her frontrunning prowess. However, she was not the only habitual pacesetter in the line-up and with two of her rivals going for eachothers' throats from the outset, Aliomaana was tucked in behind the leaders. Racing keenly, made a couple of errors early on when getting close to the first and going steep over the fourth. Nevertheless, her jumping was sound overall and she went into the lead leaving the back. She clipped the top of the penultimate flight and after being pressed by a held-up stayer, forfeited her lead turning for home. Slow to get away from the last, Aliomaana was one paced from there and was beaten eight lengths in the end while conceding seven pounds. Notwithstanding, she still finished upwards of twenty-six lengths of the remainder and although the defeat was disappointing, it was still of an honourable nature considering the complexion of the race. There are a few pounds to find with the leading contenders but the sex allowance puts her right in the picture and while Mitch Bastyan will be unable to claim the usual three, his talent on this filly negates this deficit. Several of her rivals have made the running in the past, although this has often been on sufferance and it is possible that Aliomaana could get things her own way. However, an issue might be whether or not Aliomaana can do what she did at Perth over the contours of Cheltenham.

tl;dr
Caramelised - Impressive when landing brace at Stratford during the summer and had excuses when disappointing at Market Rasen. Can take a hold so connections will be hoping that headgear helps this entire to better settle.

Knight Salute - Modest flat form at three was deceptive and has basically done everything right in winning at Sedgefield and Kempton. Strongest British form on offer and conditions should suit.

Magistrato - Debut second at Auteuil working out very well and made an impressive British debut at Chepstow. Yard does well with his type in this contest and is sure to stay up the hill.

Mister Allegro - Very modest on flat in context of this contest, and landed surprise when making a winning hurdles debut at Ludlow. However, form of that race is working out and proved that was no fluke when following up at Wincanton. Jumps very well but could find stamina stretched here.

Rocky Man - Won at second time of asking on French flat in a slog. Runner-up on British debut at Chepstow and should win races although little reason for him to reverse placings with Magistrato.

Saint Riquier - Winner on flat in France but disappointed when fourth to Mister Allegro on British/hurdles bow (drifted beforehand). Settled and jumped better next time at Huntingdon but bit to find here.

Yorksea - Handicap winner in France and joins strong yard for British/hurdles campaign. Flat form not exceptional however and faces stiff task on debut.

Addosh - Fairly useful flat winner and reversed Stratford defeat at hands of Caramelised in no uncertain terms at Market Rasen. Was in process of running nice race in the Wensleydale but unseated before getting chance to prove herself. Suited by speed tests which is unlikely in this field.

Aliomaana - Reasonable maiden for John Gosden who almost confirmed debut promise when unseating at Perth with race at her mercy. Emphatic winner back at the venue and performed creditably latest when race was not ran to suit. Form gives her a chance although uncertain if she will be suited by Cheltenham.

Strong prospects
1. Knight Salute
Reasonable prospects
2. Magistrato
3. Aliomaana
Feasible prospects
4. Mister Allegro
5. Caramelised
6. Rocky Man
7. Addosh
Moderate prospects
8. Yorksea
Negligible prospects
9. Saint Riquier

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Cracking write up BH , trust you're well , though I counted 6,116 in your worded essay ?

Won't be punting on this race but MAGISTRATO on ratings should be around 2.5L winner but races are ran on turf & not ratings .

The going will be a big factor today being on the fast side which should be more suitable for UK bred rather than French who love to get their toe in I'd be hoping that MISTER ALLEGRO once again shows some improvement & runs well .

Edited by calva decoy
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Hi CD

Had meant to reply earlier but got distracted by tomorrow's race at Fontwell...

If I can't trust wordcounter.net then is anything real???

It is funny how the ratings played a part in my evaluation as when strictly isolating the Grandak form in France, Magistrato ran to 130+. However, on British form, including through Porticello in the Wensleydale, I was looking at mid-120s and as he had experience in France, there was not necessarily the scope for improvement one can usually factor in from a debut outing. In the event, he got caught up in the battle up front and while it looked like I had the 1-2-3 jumping the last, the race completely fell apart allowing the outsiders to fill the frame. 

Fascinating race to watch and glad that Addosh got up alright :)

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Fontwell is onto its third juvenile hurdle of the season. While this particular contest only came to be in 2017, the seasonal RPRs of its average winners of 130.5 would not be out of place at the likes of Ascot or Aintree. Such a figure is peculiar for a Class 4 event and the anomaly reveals itself when looking at the previous two winners of the contest in Goshen and Nassalam. This year's renewal could potentially be of a similar construct as two Gary Moore recruits bring particular intrigue to what would otherwise be an ordinary affair. Notwithstanding, this is not to denigrate the remainder of the field as there is fair winning and placed form on offer along with a couple of flat recruits that would be of interest in most contests at this grade. Fontwell's clear round rate of 94.92% is one of the lowest in the country and the figure for newcomers 90.54% is also modest so good schooling is especially useful at the venue. Experienced runners naturally have the better strike rate, although this is less pronounced than at other racecourses and three of the four winners of this contest were making their British/hurdles debuts. The winning DIs in this contest of 0.56 mean and 0.60 median are very low, although these figures are drawn from a small sample and the previous editions were ran on softer ground. With the going described as good and rain unlikely to fall, the test may be more in keeping with the course's DIs of 1.12 mean and 1.40 median; which are close enough to standard. 

Beowulf bg Michael Bell f11-2-3 (69) 78
Camelot (Thewayyouare){21-a}(0.70) No jumps relatives
Newmarket trainer Michael Bell has supplied 78 juvenile hurdlers to the division since 2004/05, and their winner to runner rate is a healthy one at 30.77%. Notwithstanding, he has ran three of his own during this time with Metaphoric winning a couple in 2008, although his last runners were nine seasons ago and all three were trained at Fitzroy House on the flat. Beowulf, who fetched 34,000 guineas at the Tattersalls Autumn Sale, raced on the flat under the care of Ed Walker whose former inmates count just one winner from thirteen (although the 41.67% improvement rate is more reasonable). After thrice finishing down the field as a two-year-old, Beowulf began his 2021 campaign with a mark of 56 in exchange for his testicles. He was also given blinkers for his handicap debut at Linfield at the beginning of June where after racing keenly, he did his best work towards the end of the ten furlongs to finish just over two lengths behind in third. Following a midfield finish at Yarmouth without the blinkers, Beowulf got off the mark in a Ffos Las handicap in June with the blinkers reapplied. Racing keenly while held up in rear, he made headway in the straight and showed a decisive turn of foot at the distance to ultimately run out a cosy four length winner. Beowulf followed up a fortnight later at the same venue and in a similar fashion off a mark of 65. This would be his last visit to the winners enclosure and though he ran to form when finishing third in consecutive outings at Newbury and Bath off 72, his headstrong tendencies re-emerged as he finished midfield on his final two outings without being entirely disgraced. Beowulf's pedigree gives mixed signals as while Camelot is a solid sire of juveniles (27.27% winner to runner), damsire Thewayyouare has a modest record as a sire and the damline, being North American, is bereft of jumpers. Beowolf would not be completely out of this contest on his flat form, and his sire and trainer are interesting. However, his headstrong nature is a concern and the yard has gone a month since its last winner.

Boulette bg Nigel Hawke f6-0-1 (73) 72 j2-0-1 (-) 92 102
Epaulette (Tiznow){5-f}(1.00) 0.5 Pari Passu 10th 2m Maiden Hurdle, Kilbeggan 2019
Another in a series of juvenile hurdlers to have joined Nigel Hawke from Jim Bolger, a group which has produced six winners from ten, Boulette has shown enough to take an ordinary contest at some point. A six race maiden in Ireland, his performances exceeded his official mark of 71 and he shaped as though stamina would be no concern in this sphere. His hurdling debut came at the start of September where he was slightly uneasy in the market. Sweating up beforehand, Boulette had a habit of pulling on the flat and he raced keenly off the modest pace here. Initially in midfield, he jumped the path crossing the stands, but was soon tracking the pacesetters and was within a couple of lengths of the lead jumping three out. He hurdled well enough save for skewing at the first and slightly reaching at the fourth, although the shift in gears rather caught him off guard as he got close to three out, and while he jumped the last two fine, he was not so quick in getting away from his hurdles. This cost him valuable momentum which exacerbated his lack of pace. He was about six lengths behind at the furlong marker and though able to rally after reorganising himself, he gave himself too much to do and was unable to bridge the gap in time. He shaped like a horse who should come on plenty for the experience and after a two month break, made his return at Ludlow ten days ago. Sent off the 5/2 joint favourite having been 13/8 during the morning, Boulette was keen from the outset and soon pulled himself into the lead. His advantage was extended to half a dozen lengths along the back but was amongst the pack turning for home. After conceding the lead before the penultimate flight, he faded to finish an eleven length fifth. His headstrong tendencies also impacted his hurdling as he skewed at the first, clipped the third, got in close to the fifth before his jumping further deteriorated in the straight. Boulette is capable of winning a race of this nature on his Worcester performance, the yard is in better form than at Ludlow. However, his temperament raises concerns and while hood and tongue tie have been added, the yard's runners show no discernible improvement for the first-time application of same. 

Hayedo bg Gary Moore f4-0-3 (-) 84 
Sea The Moon (Sholokhov){7-c}(0.65) 3/1 Hill Fairy 1st Lombardstown Mares Novice Chase (L), Cork 2008
https://www.pronoturf.es/ficha-caballo/c58dbcc04143b4253160b8d619314a2e
https://www.equidia.fr/chevaux/hayedo
Starting his career in Spain before racing in France, the German bred Hayedo is set to make his British debut here. After fetching €58,000 as a yearling, Hayedo twice ran for Patrik Olave at La Zarzuela, Madrid late in the season where he would finish second over 1800m on turf, and 1900m on sand. The latter outing saw him finish nine lengths behind a horse called Speedful who would eventually move to France and race in claiming company, albeit as a seventy/eiighty-ish performer. Hayedo's third outing is much more easily quantified. Having his first run for Edouard Monfort, who has yet to export a juvenile hurdler, Hayedo reappeared in a quite valuable maiden contest at Longchamp over 2000m in May. Keen in the early stages, he pulled himself into the lead and settled better as a result. He would maintain his advantage to the distance and though outpaced by the winner, would keep on gamely to hold second. The form is of a reasonable standard with the length and a quarter winner rated 96.8, and the third rated 88. Hayedo failed to match this form on his sole subsequent outing which came over 2200m at Lyon the following month. Though running a similar kind of race, he did not settle quite so well and while he fought on bravely after being headed turning for home, he found himself swamped in the final strides, finishing just under two lengths behind in fourth. Gary Moore has a strong record with his French flat recruits with ten of his twenty-four winning as juveniles, four of whom would score first time out, and Yorksea ran a big race at Cheltenham yesterday. There is also encouragement for Hayedo's new vocation in the pedigree. Sea The Moon (Allmankind, Tritonic) has a winner runner rate of 28.57% and an improvement rate of 50%. Sholokhov is untried as a damsire but 30% of his own progeny win in the sphere and the third dam is the matriarch of winning jumpers Hill Fairy (3/1), Hey Little Boy (3/1) and North Hill (3/2). Hayedo's best flat form along with his pedigree give him the credentials to be a useful recruit. His ability on good ground is not assured however but while he appears to be the second string on jockey bookings, Hayedo could be better suited by conditions than his stablemate. 

Largo Bay chg Michael Madgwick f13-1-5 (59) 63
Flintshire (Henrythenavigator){3-d}(1.08) 5/3 I'm So Lucky 1st Celebration Chase (G2), Sandown 2010
Juveniles bought after winning sellers on the flat rarely show useful form over hurdles, although they do have a respectable winner to runner rate of 26%. Largo Bay's sole flat win from thirteen came in such company when he took a ten furlong selling handicap off 56 at Linfield in mid-August. Sent off the 2/1 favourite, made all at a fair tempo before going clear in the straight to win by two lengths. After the race, he left Richard Hughes to join Michael Madgwick for the sum of £7,200. Juvenile recruits from the former yard have yet to have a winner from ten and none of the five qualifiers have improved for the switch to hurdling. Michael Madgwick's record in the sphere is more encouraging as while his winner to runner rate of 12.5% is fair at best, his improvement rate of 61.54% is healthy and he did get a couple of wins from £2,000 purchase Ray Diamond in 2008/09. Largo Bay has had three outings for his new handler on the flat and while he was poor at Kempton over a mile, having missed an engagement the previous month, a step up to twelve furlongs saw him run new career bests at Kempton off 60, and Lingfield off 59 twelve days ago. He will be the first hurdler for sire Flintshire, whose standing in America will make his progeny a rare sight over jumps. Notwithstanding, while the five time Group One winner has a strong preference for fast ground, his class, stamina and good height of 16.1hh, along with his being a son of Dansili and nephew of useful hurdler Summit Meeting, suggest that his progeny should hold their own over hurdles. However, the damline is less encouraging as Henrythenavigator has contributed little to the sphere and one has to go back to 5/3 in order to find a useful jumper. Largo Bay's profile is not without its positives for juvenile hurdling, but while he has a good chance of performing in the sphere, it will likely come at a lower level. 

Morani Kali chg Martin Smith f7-0-0 (55) 65 j1-0-0 (-) 43 48
Charming Thought (Haafhd){3-d}(2.11) 2/1 Heavenly Chorus 1st 2m3½f Handicap Hurdle (104), Catterick 2008
Making his racecourse debut in January at Southwell, Morani Kali amassed seven starts without reaching the frame and his fourth at Kempton second time out has been a total outlier. Damsire Haafhd had a respectable record as a sire in the division, but this has not been passed through his broodmares and Representing a yard without a winning juvenile hurdler and Charming Thought does not have the profile to produce good jumpers. Morani Kali made his jumps bow at Huntingdon in early January where his starting price of 100/1 was a reflection of his chances. Always in the rear, he jumped poorly throughout and would ultimately finish a tailed off last of seven. He subsequently finished midfield on his return to the flat three weeks ago.

Moulins Clermont bg Gary Moore j1-0-1 (-) 114 121 
Free Port Lux (Ungaro){3-o}(0.67) 0.5 Paris Clermont 1st 4300 Conditions Chase, Aix-les-Bains 2016
https://www.equidia.fr/chevaux/moulins-clermont
It is a sign of the times, probably compounded by events of the past year, that Moulins Clermont was purchased not privately or at a public auction, but on an online shop. For €70,000, he left Bertrand Lefevre to become another recruit to the Gary Moore ranks. Continuing the prototype theme, Moulins Clermont represents the first crop of jumpers by Group Two winner Free Port Lux - a giant of a horse at 1.70m who, despite being by Oasis Dream, has a stamina laden pedigree and has already produced the useful three-year-old hurdler Itours Brun. Moulins Clermont's sole start came in the Prix du Brevent at Compiègne which is a reaonable conditions race that has been contested by the likes of Adrien Du Pont, Ibis Du Rheu, Cristal Bonus. Held up in midfield, Moulins Clermont had a propensity to get tight at his hurdles but rarely caused alarm. However, despite the race being the slowest held at the venue this term, he still looked short of pace and was doing his best work towards the end of the contest as he finished three lengths third of nine. The form is not exceptional, but it has produced a few subsequent winners and a performance rating in the early 120s would not be unreasonable. Half of Gary Moore's ten French hurdles recruits have been winners with four of those scoring first time including recent Wensleydale winner Porticello, and Fontwell scorers Botox Has and Nassalam. Moulins Clermont sets a clear standard on hurdles form and given his profile, a slog around Fontwell would seem an ideal introduction. However, with the ground forecast to be unseasonably firm, he may be vulnerable to something with more pace. 

Pride Of Nepal bg Jeremy Scott f9-0-2 (63) 69
The Gurkha (Tamayuz){3-d}(0.82) 3/2 Hanover Street 1st 2m 4yo Maiden Hurdle, Tramore 2016
The record of those bought after winning sellers is covered in Largo Bay's profile, who won the race from which Pride Of Nepal was purchased for £6,400. The latter, beaten by two lengths, was carrying eleven pounds more which puts him ahead at the weights and while still a maiden after nine starts, his subsequent second at Wolverhampton on his penultimate outing confirms superiority over Largo Bay. However, he is given to taking a keen hold and his stamina is also suspect in the context of this contest. Those formerly trained by Hughie Morrison have a solid 22.58% winner to runner rate in the sphere and new handler Jeremy Scott has won with one of his six; although his recent form could be stronger and the yard's juveniles generally need a few races under their girths. A son of first crop sire The Gurkha, who is promising to be a supplier of useful, if speedy, juveniles. Pride Of Nepal incidentally shares a damline with the aforementioned Largo Bay at 7/5. Nevertheless, a winning jumper does appear somewhat closer on his side with Hanover Street showing at 3/2. Pride Of Nepal is another recruit who could find his level, although he also wants for class and will probably appreciate a sharper test than the one offered by Fontwell. 

Rhebus Road chg Oliver Sherwood f10-2-3 (74) 78 j1-0-0 (-) 73 79
Champs Elysees (Verglas){14-f}(2.20) 2/1 Thahab Ifraj 1st 2m Handicap Hurdle (106), Kempton 2020
Starting his career with Ralph Beckett, it took Rhebus Road seven attempts to get off the mark on the flat. Sporting a first time visor in a twelve furlong handicap at Beverley off 63 in early July, he looked a tricky ride, hanging markedly to his left under pressure. Nevertheless, he still made all to run out a comfortable four-and-a-half length winner and was able to command a price tag of 70,000 guineas at the Tattersalls July Sale. Rhebus Road stayed at Kimpton Down for his next three outings and was able to double his tally when last seen at Newmarket in a ten furlong handicap off 70. Headgear removed and ridden with more restraint, he took up the running at the distance against the rail and though he carried his head awkwardly at times, was always doing enough to fend off his rivals by upwards of half-a-length. Sire Champs Elysees has a winner to runner rate of 25.45%, and his improvement rate of 51.43% is also respectable. While there are no superstars on the damline, Rhebus Road is a nephew of Thahab Ifraj who won a handicap hurdle last year. Switching to Oliver Sherwood for his hurdling career, he joined a trainer with a healthy 39.39% winner to runner rate in the sphere, and whose charges tend to improve with the benefit of experience. Connections will be hoping for this to be the case as Rhebus Road's hurdling debut at Kempton was not encouraging. Though sent off the outsider, he was not without supporters and his price contracted from 10/1 to 15/2 at the off. However, while he probably settled as well as anything in the contest, his hurdling left something to be desired as he hopped over the second, was steady before skewing at the fifth, steady again at the next where he got in close and was already weakening when putting in a tired jump at two out. While Rhebus Road is not without potential as a hurdling recruit, he was overfaced in this company first time and it remains to be seen if he would be more enthusiastic here. Going left handed should be a positive, but there are questions to answer and the yard has gone a month without sending out a winner. 

The Yellow Mini bf Michael Wigham f14-0-1 (45) 53 j4-1-3 (110) 95 106 
Cannock Chase (Primo Valentino){22-d}(1.00) 2/2 Arakhan 1st 2m4f Novices' Hurdle, Aintree 2019
Without a win to her name in fourteen starts on the flat, The Yellow Mini raced under the care of Polly Gundry until late July. Her best outing in that sphere came at the end of June when finishing three quarters of a length second in a Bath handicap off 45, though no effort either side matched that performance. Making her hurdling debut at Fontwell early in September, she was the first runner over hurdles for sire Cannock Chase, a stallion with feasible credentials given his sireline, DI and height. She is also a cousin of a winning novice hurdler and while trainer Michael Wigham had not had a runner in the sphere since November 2016, he had previously sent out two to win first time. Not completely unfancied at 16/1, she was ridden with confidence, disputing the lead from the outset. With the front two racing alongside each other for most of the contest, it was only when her rival, Sir Taweel, began to fade leaving the back that she moved into a clear advantage. Ramure managed to get within a length after jumping quicker at two out, but The Yellow Mini kept on doggedly to keep her rival at bay. She also ran with more purpose on the run-in to cross the line with just over three lengths in hand. While she clearly relished this new discipline, her hurdling was not without its blemishes. Distracted by her rival when making minor errors over the first two, she was slightly big over the third and sixth, steady when clipping the next, outjumped at two out and went right at the last. Notwithstanding, these errors were not especially to her detriment and it is an area where she can improve with experience. She came out again a fortnight later at Plumpton where she was steady in the market at 9/2. The front running tactics from Fontwell were employed again and setting a sensible gallop, The Yellow Mini put in a good round of jumping with only minor errors and her wandering occasionally counting against her. She had all but one of her rivals in trouble on leaving the back and while Impulsive One was in a different league, the remainder of the field were held by the best part of four lengths and upwards in the end. The Yellow Mini continued in going from strength to strength with another career best at back Fontwell at the start of last month. Though initially the least fancied of three principals in a tight contest, she was supported into 6/4 joint favouritism at the off. Attempting to make all once again, she had the lead to herself up until the final flight where she was still holding a winning chance. However, while she mostly hurdled well, save for a tendency to jump right, she did get close to three out and made a real mess of the last where she barely got off the ground and stumbled badly on landing. This blunder cost her valuable momentum and quite likely the race itself as she had little left to offer on the run-in. Notwithstanding, the performance still demonstrated that The Yellow Mini is an honest sort who enjoys her new vocation. The Yellow Mini was last seen eighteen days ago at Fakenham where, racing in first-time blinkers, attracted late support to start the race at 5/1. While Fakenham would generally suit frontrunners, it was a contest inundated with trailblazers and The Yellow Mini was right in the thick of it; contesting the lead from the outset. Her hurdling was still reasonable all things considered, with mistakes only creeping in as she faded late on to nobody's surprise. Beaten thirty-four lengths, but still holding on for third, The Yellow Mini will likely appreciate her return to Fontwell. However, she is unlikely to enjoy an uncontested lead, nor will she have the services of Gavin Sheehan who skilfully guided her around Fontwell during her previous visits.

Undercover Agent bg Mark Gillard f3-0-0 (39) 39 j1-0-0 (-) 66 81 
Kodiac (Rainbow Quest){1-o}(0.78) 0.5 Hoist The Colours 4th Juvenile Hurdle, Stratford 2015
Since fetching 3,000 guineas at a Tattersalls Breeze Up this year, Undercover Agent, a half-brother to the 2009 Poule d'Essai des Pouliche winner Elusive Wave, finished tailed off on two outings during August and was an eleven length last of six in a weak Lingfield claimer early last month. Trainer Mark Gillard has saddled three winning juveniles, but none would do so before their fifth attempt over hurdles and his overall strike rate stands at just 3.85%. Kodiac has a good record in the sphere with a winner to runner rate of 37.93%, and uncle Leopardi managed a win. However, this did not offset the huge task set on Undercover Agent's hurdling debut at Wincanton three weeks ago and his on course drift from 100/1 to 250/1 was not alarming. Held up in the rear, he never threatened to get competitive and he eventually finished a distance behind the winner. Notwithstanding, his jumping was not atrocious with his only errors coming when steady and close at the third, pecking at the next and going left at the sixth. While he accomplished little here, this still marked a new career best. Undercover Agent can make a better hurdler, although his sights will need to be set considerably lower. 

Cirrus chf Milton Harris f14-0-3 (65) 77 j1-0-1 (-) 68 67 
Starspangledbanner (Halling){5-e}(3.00) 0.5 Spiritual Art 1st 2m1f Mares' Maiden Hurdle, Newton Abbot 2011
A fourteen race maiden on the flat, Cirrus has failed to reach the frame in six outings since finishing third at Nottingham in early May, and has beaten just one of her twelve rivals home in her two starts for Milton Harris. Leaving Richard Hannon for 15,000 guineas at the Tattersalls July sale, Cirrus had shown her best form when under a length third at the aforementioned Nottingham off 73, and on her final outing for her former handler when just over two lengths fifth of seven at Bath off the same mark; with both of these performances coming on good to soft ground and indicating that a trip could be the key. While this alone would be a tenuous cause for optimism, there are further positives in the profile. Her sire, Starspangledbanner, was a four time Group One winner in Britain and Australia, and while his most notable successes came over sprint distances, he also won the Caulfield Guineas at three. While a sprint bred sprinter should not make into a sire of juvenile hurdlers, his own sire Choisir has a 30% winner to runner rate, a 72.73% improvement rate, and another son of his in Olympic Glory has also made a promising start with comparable figures of 37.5% and 50% respectively. Starspangledbanner himself has two winners from six in the sphere with Can't Stop Now winning on soft, Tinnahalla beating Homme Public on heavy, and Kentucky Hardboot finishing second on soft at Newbury. Cirrus is out of a half-sister to a winning hurdler with other winners Strawman (3/1) and Royal Master (3/2) on the damline. Milton Harris, who boasts a 45% strike rate in the past fortnight, has already had three winning juveniles this term including Knight Salute who landed the Grade Two Prestbury Hurdle at Cheltenham. Furthermore, the only other juvenile acquired by Milton Harris from the Hannon team was when Gulf Punch was bought out of a claimer in 2009 (as a two-year-old, it should be noted) from Hannon Sr before winning three times during her first campaign. Making her hurdling debut at the venue at the beginning of October, Cirrus was weak in the market beforehand and started the race at 16/1. Held up in midfield, she hurdled decently overall for the most part and was still moving well enough on rounding the home turn. However, fears over her first-time tongue tie manifested as she folded very tamely before finishing a thirty-seven length last of three. A respiratory noise was reported after the race and a wind operation was conducted within the week. Given a good six weeks to recover, and with the yard in white hot form, Cirrus could very well leave her debut outing behind. While there will naturally be questions to answer insofar as her wellbeing is concerned, she has at least shown herself a fluent jumper as well as capable of performing after a layoff. 

Sly Madam bf Sheena West f7-0-1 (45) 49 j1-0-0 (-) 60 61
Sixties Icon (Thousand Words){4-i}(0.57) 1/1 Sly Minx 3rd Juvenile Hurdle, Fontwell 2020
Though no better than a modest maiden on the flat for Mick Channon, Sly Madam has a couple of elements to suggest improvement for the switch to hurdles. Trainer Sheena West has a strong improvement rate of 72.97% with her charges, and Sixties Icon has produced some useful juvenile fillies while also enjoying a healthy improvement rate of 53.57%. However, Sly Madam was not well fancied for her hurdling debut at Stratford six weeks ago where she faced a stiff task against two promising newcomers. Taking a keen hold while tracking the leaders, her cause was not helped by her jumping big at the early flights before becoming slow to get away from the later obstacles. Sly Madam's full-sister, Sly Minx, was beaten out of sight in this contest last season and while she might eventually outperform her sibling, there is little enthusiasm for the imminent future.

tl;dr
Beowulf - Rare juvenile hurdler for Michael Bell who won twice on the flat for Ed Walker. Capable of decent form but propensity to pull hard re-emerged and yard not in strong form.

Boulette - Horses who join Nigel Hawke from Jim Bolger have solid record in the sphere and Worcester debut second was promising. Raced to freely for own good at Ludlow and while yard is in better form, there are questions to answer.

Hayedo - German bred who started in Spain and stepped up when moving to France. Longchamp second the strongest flat form on offer and has joined a yard with strong record in this contest. May want more testing conditions but is brave and is bred to do well in sphere.

Largo Bay - Won selling handicap off 56 but yard can win with modest sorts. Sire's progeny should perform over hurdles but likely to find this company too strong.

Morani Kali - Poor on flat overall and nothing in profile to suggest he can make a hurdler. No encouragement from hurdling debut at Huntingdon.

Moulins Clermont - Third on sole outing which came in reasonable race at Compiegne. Yard does very well with his type and this contest would have been ideal on soft ground. However, may be vulnerable to pacier sort in prevailing conditions.

Pride Of Nepal - Behind Largo Bay in seller but stronger form overall. Tends to pull and stamina not assured for this trip. 

Rhebus Road - Cost 70,000gns at the Tattersalls July Sale and had useful winning form on the flat. Has looked awkward at times Kempton debut left plenty to be desired. Capable of better but not sure to produce and yard on the cold list.

The Yellow Mini - Showed dramatic improvement from flat form when making winning start to hurdling career over course and distance. May have landed double at this venue but for final flight error. Honest and capable but unlikely to get easy lead.

Undercover Agent - Achieved nothing on flat and while shaped better on hurdling debut at Wincanton, still has a great deal to find with several of these.

Cirrus - Fourteen race maiden on flat but pedigree not without merit and is with a yard that can do little wrong. Jumped well but faded tamely on jumps bow over course and distance. Respiratory issues reported and has had wind done. Questions to answer but has performed after a break and dangerous to dismiss.

Sly Madam - Modest maiden who has the profile to do better over hurdles. Stratford debut was poor however, and has plenty to find here. 

Strong prospects
1. Cirrus
Reasonable prospects
2. Hayedo
3. Moulins Clermont
Feasible prospects
4. Boulette
5. The Yellow Mini
6. Rhebus Road
Moderate prospects
7. Beowulf
8. Largo Bay
9. Pride Of Nepal
Negligible prospects
10. Undercover Agent
11. Sly Madam
12. Morani Kali

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Great call with 9/2 winner Knight Salute in the Grade 2 JCB Triumph Hurdle trial yesterday ?

Another watching brief today & a tough shout with previous CD winner THE YELLOW MINI , two 4th's on debut in RHEBUS ROAD & SLY MADAM then two from G.Moore in HAYEDO & probable first stable choice & 3rd to name MOULINS CLERMONT , BOULETTE has all the gear to get some idea with 1st time hood & tongue tie but I'd plump for a place with the S.West & M.Goldsteins SLY MADAM along with CIRRUS getting the 7Lb fillies allowance & the combination know where the winning line here & at Plumpton also.

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Cheers CD

Interesting angle with Sheena West at Fontwell. She's had 34 run in juveniles there since 2004/05 and while there have been three winners (Whipperway 16/1, Hi Note 10/1, Feb Thirtyfirst 7/4), another eight were placed giving a fair 32.35% w&p rate.  Two of those wins came in maidens and Hi Note's race wasn't much cop so class for Sly Madam is enough of an issue to keep my pulse steady. 

Beowulf is a lot shorter than I thought he would be and has attracted further support from his opening show. Strong pace might well suit him but I am never a fan of pullers first time over hurdles. While I rather expected Cirrus to be around 25/1, Hayedo's price of 14/1 is pretty surprising and probably based solely on jockey bookings (which is bizarre given that Cheeseman has had a couple of winners for the yard). If he was starting for another good trainer, Hayedo would likely be much shorter.

These are, of course, random musings and I am not clued up on the matters of value. Won't be betting on the race so only my ego is at stake here!

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Nowhere near enough time to do an essay but I have done some notes for tomorrow's contest at Leicester. Enjoy :)

Leicester - 
DIs 1.00 median 1.27 mean - 9th lowest in GB. 4th lowest when comparing winning DIs to those beaten.
Clear round rate 98.47% 3rd highest in GB. 98.90% for newcomers. Newcomers SR of 10.99% above avg
David Pipe 8 runs 4 wins 1 place

This race - 
Six runnings since 2012
Nyanza (2nd in 2014) won Aintree listed race. Six others placed at Aintree.
No trainers represented here have ever had runner.
Good to soft with rain unlikely. Weather warning for fog. 

Kalzari bbf David Pipe j2-1-1 (-) - ~118 
Zanzibari (Konig Turf){19}(2.60) 3/2 Korfu 1st 4000m Cross Country Chase, Milano 2021
https://www.equidia.fr/chevaux/kalzari
Zanzibari WR 3-5 (60%) GB&IRE, 13-43 (30.23%) 3YO France.
ex Daniela Mele (Stratagem, 2 runs 1 win; Josh d'Id 1-0)
David Pipe ex French jumpers; WR 14-28 (50%) inc Gaspara & Mr Thriller
David Pipe ex French jumpers out of claimers; WR 3-6 inc Notus de la Tour
David Pipe 1st time out w/ ex-French jumpers; 9-27 (33.33% SR)

Debut 30/8/21 3500m Moulins Maiden Hurdle (souple/G-S) 
Held up in rear, slow tempo, headway second circuit, outpaced after awkward jump two out, rallied run-in, beaten 1 length second of six finishers. Nothing to form. 

23/9/21 3400m Compiegne Claiming Hurdle (tres souple/very good to soft)
Ridden more prominently, led halfway, travelled well jumping last, pushed out for cosy 4l win.
Few minor errors but otherwise a nice round of jumping and, at times, clever. Went slightly right a couple of times.
Runner up a very solid yardstick at claiming class. Won twice subsequently. Third placed next two starts. Fourth won next time. 
Worthy of rating in high 110s, possibly higher. Sold for €28,888 afterwards.

Angels Landing bf Ian Williams f6-1-3 (71) 76 j1-0-1 (-) 85 94 
Fascinating Rock (Pivotal){7-a}(1.77) 5/3 Binocular 1st Champion Hurdle (G1), Cheltenham 2010
First juv for Fascinating Rock - fair credentials for division. 
Damline threadbare. Bleu Ciel et Blanc and Binocular distant relatives
Won Kempton handicap at 20/1 off 67 on final flat outing
Started joint favourite for hurdling debut at Ludlow
Held up in touch, one paced straight, 4½l third of seven
Jumped abysmally
Fifth won next time at Fontwell (trainer in better form)
Ian Williams solid record in division with Saint Riquier a good second at Cheltenham

Cirrus chf Milton Harris f14-0-3 (65) 77 j2-0-1 (-) 68 67
Starspangledbanner (Halling){5-e}(3.00) 0.5 Spiritual Art 1st 2m1f Mares' Maiden Hurdle, Newton Abbot 2011
Ran and jumped well on hurdling debut to a point before dropping out tamely. 
Had wind op but jumped poorly and never went a yard on return yesterday.
Juveniles returning after one day have record of 10 runs, 2 wins, 2 places. 
Milton Harris has had a winner from swift return but this was a handicapper on a sequence.
Poor Fontwell return probably due more to lack of aptitude and enthusiasm than fitness.

Instant de Bonheur bf Nigel Hawke Unraced
Karaktar (Robin des Champs){u}(0.41) 0.5 Avenir d'Une Vie 2nd Dan & Joan Moore Handicap Chase (A,142), Fairyhouse 2020
Unraced juvenile hurdlers 2.41% strike rate.
Unraced juvenile hurdlers trained by Nigel Hawke, 9.09% strike rate. (1-11, Tiger Roll)
Trainer solid record overall, winner yesterday at Fontwell.
Karaktar having first crop , no wins from eleven thus far but You're The Boss second in Listed race.
Damline; 2/1 (dam full-sister to) Sous Les Cieux 1.Royal Bond 2/1 Ainsi Va La Vie 3/1 I Got It 3/2 Sans Histoire 1.Rohan 3.Sytaj 3/3 Gauloise 4/3 Un Atout 4/4 Sir des Champs 5/5 Elixir d'Ainay 5/5 Capitaine

Lady Pacifico bf David Weston f8-1-4 (69) 76
Sir Percy (Dynaformer){1-l}(0.52) 2/2 Plain Sailing 1st 2m2½f Novices' Hurdle, Newton Abbot 2013
Initially raced in France, won 1m4f Leicester handicap on GB debut off 65
Without win but not disgraced three subsequent outings over fourteen furlongs. Stamina not an issue.
Sold for 27,000gns Tatts August 
Two Tom Clover graduates, each failed to perform on sole start.
David Weston 0 from 2 with sole juvenile. 5 runs and 73 days since last winner of any description.
Cousin to winner along with two placed jumpers. Taglietelie and If In Doubt distant relatives. 

Macha bf David Pipe f8-2-4 (33,5-73.7) 66
Myboycharlie (Medicean){1-k}(1.40) 2/1 Zoffalee 1st 2m1f 4yo Handicap Hurdle (112), Ballinrobe 2019
https://www.equidia.fr/chevaux/macha
Dual winner for Jean-Claude Rouget. 
Had looked promising as 2yo but ultimately disappointing with rating dropping eleven pounds.
Won second race last time out in 2100m Dax claimer. Made all and ran on gamely. Form meh. 
Bought for €15,256 
Myboycharlie 1-7 GB&IRE, 4-14 3yoFR (28.57%)
Fairly useful Zoffalee only nearby jumper at 2/1. German 1000gns winner Kali also 2/1
David Pipe ex-French flat claimers 5-11 (WR 45.45%) 
Adagio exception, Koi Dodville won poor races, other three winners (Nike Walker, Paricolour and Closer To Home) did so on handicap debuts after lesser performances in open company.

Pump It Up chf Richard Spencer f12-1-3 (49) 59 j1-0-0 (-) 71 79
Charming Thought (Pivotal){1-l}(2.08) 3/1 General Eliott 1st 2m½f Handicap Hurdle (100), Market Rasen 2011
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9EcjWd-O4jI
Awah, a place to stay, get your booty on the floor tonight, make my day
Brave and consistent at a low level on the flat. 
Pedigree not especially compelling.
Jumps debut at Fakenham three weeks ago, unfancied.
Started prominently but lost places towards end of first circuit, one paced in midfield second circuit, plugged on for 42 length fourth. 
Slightly awkward but reasonable jumping overall. 

Unfinished Busines grf Nigel Hawke Unraced
Clovis du Berlais (Fragrant Mix){19-a}(0.50) 2/1 Valseur Lido 1st Champion Chase (G1), Down Royal 2016
Whoever named this horse is very clever. Well done.
Unraced juvenile hurdlers 2.41% strike rate.
Unraced juvenile hurdlers trained by Nigel Hawke, 9.09% strike rate. (1-11, Tiger Roll)
Trainer solid record overall, winner yesterday at Fontwell.
First British runner for Clovis du Berlais - thrice placed in graded hurdles at 4yo, sole runner to date pulled up. Sire King's Theatre had solid record with juveniles but better with age.
Damline; 2/1 Tango Lido 3/2 Rhialco 1.Leon Olry-Roederer 3/2 Desir Apple's 5/4 Pomme Tiepy 5/4 Dostiep 5/4

Strong (bordering outstanding) prospects
1. Kalzari
Reasonable prospects
2. Lady Pacifico
3. Angels Landing
Feasible prospects
4. Macha
5. Instant de Bonheur
Moderate prospects
6. Unfinished Busines
7. Cirrus
8. Pump It Up
Negligible prospects
.

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12.45 Catterick - IVYNATOR 9/4 

Won at Wolverhampton on last flat run in October over 12f off a rating of 70.

Made hurdle debut 14 days ago at Warwick on good over 16f finishing 4th & should be wiser & come on for that run .

Not sure how many but surely this must be Charlie Fellowes only hurdler.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Don't call it a comeback...

The Summit Juvenile Hurdle was initially contested as the Summit Junior Hurdle at Lingfield in 1975 whereafter the winner, Sweet Joe, would also take the Victor Ludorum at Haydock. Though the race became more notorious for its frequent abandonments than the horses who contested same, it was not incapable of throwing up decent sorts; particularly during the nineties with its roll call including Oh So Risky, Anzum and Hors La Loi III, winners of the Triumph, Stayers' and Champion Hurdles respectively. With jumps racing at Lingfield becoming increasingly untenable, the race was deserted for a few seasons before being given a reprieve at Doncaster in 2011 where it would also be reunited with the December Novices' Chase. Since finding its new home, The Summit Hurdle has established itself as one of the finest juvenile hurdles held in Britain before Christmas, producing four grade one winners in Peace And Co (Triumph 2014/15), We Have A Dream (Finale and Anniversary 2017/18), Quel Destin (Finale 2018) and Monmiral (Anniversary 2021). Despite facing strong competition from the Triumph Trial on Cheltenham's card, this season's renewal is still representative of the best seen to date in the country. Knight Salute, Porticello and Too Friendly all bring substantial, undefeated records to the fray while Impulsive One and Magistrato, each victims of the first named, hold feasible pretentions to reversing the form. Sacre Pierre was not beaten far when third behind Porticello at Wetherby, David Pipe introduces a talented newcomer from the flat in Kolisi, and the field is rounded off by New Reality who while a fairly useful winner, is the only one to look out of his depth. 

Doncaster's winning DIs of 1.13 median, 1.35 mean, suggest a slightly more demanding stamina test than standard, although its clear round rate of 96.99% and completion rate of 90.19% still place the South Yorkshire venue within the fairest third. Five of the seven odds-on favourites in this contest since its switch to Doncaster have obliged and although no horse should be odds-on this year, it does place further emphasis on the course producing rational results. None of the race's eight newcomers have made a winning hurdling debut, although Broughton and Robertstown did finish runner-up in 2013 and 2015 for john Ferguson. No winner of this contest was breaking their maiden in the process, although since every experienced runner here has tasted hurdling success, this is much of a muchness. The going is currently described as good to soft and though overnight rain is not expected, the sky is likely to fall at some point in the afternoon.

Triumph Odds
Porticello 16/1
Knight Salute 25/1
Too Friendly 40/1
Magistrato 50/1
Impulsive One 66/1
Sacre Pierre 100/1

Knight Salute bg Milton Harris f7-1-1 (75) 85 j3-3-0 (128) 114 127 
Sir Percy (Unfuwain){11-c}(0.50) 2/1 Kalko 1st Juvenile Hurdle, Kelso 1993
Costing 14,000 guineas at the Tattersalls July Sale, Knight Salute would not have caught many an eye with his purchase fee. Starting his career with Andrew Balding, he followed up a debut second at Wolverhampton with a win at Sandown before being allowed to take his chance in the listed Stonehenge Stakes at Salisbury. Not disgraced in finishing fifth of seven, he shaped as though he would be suited by further; as per his pedigree. He subsequently finished last on his final outing at two and on all three starts at three, although these runs all came over an inadequate trip. Still within the 82nd percentile of rated flat recruits it was surprising to see him drift out to 18/1 on his hurdling debut at Sedgefield towards the end of September. Racing in a first time hood, he was keen while held up in the rear. Nevertheless, he jumped neatly up to the closing stages where he missed the sixth, reached at the penultimate flight and got in close to the last. Notwithstanding, these latter errors were not to the detriment of his performance given his superiority on the day. Making very smooth headway towards the end of the back, he moved strongly into second place over two out and cruised into the lead approaching the last whereafter he was ridden clear to pass the line nine and six lengths clear of the remainder. Though it was standard fare as far as Sedgefield is concerned, and the winning time was modest, the twenty length fourth finished a quarter of that distance behind the winner when third at Wetherby. He was next seen at Kempton four weeks ago, having his second outing at a more fashionable venue against representatives of more fashionable yards. He was uneasy in the exchanges during the day, but he held a strong chance on paper and was backed in the ring from 13/2 to 9/2 at the off. Tracking the leaders off a fairly modest tempo, Mitch Bastyan had to display good strength to keep a good hold of his mount. Nevertheless, the jockey conserved enough energy to have Knight Salute in a useful position turning into the straight. Though momentarily outpaced between the final two flights, Knight Salute gained enough momentum to jump the last with a share of the lead and was able to see off his rival to the tune of a couple of lengths at the line. While he made mistakes under pressure first time at Sedgefield, there were no errors worth reporting in this contest and with his strong travelling and fluent jumping, he posted the strongest winning performance seen on a British course this season. Knight Salute's latest outing saw him take the step into graded company with aplomb when winning at Cheltenham four weeks ago. Steady in the market and sent off the 9/2 second favourite, he jumped as well as ever and travelled easily towards the rear of midfield. Going wide on the turn for home on the leaders' tails, Knight Salute was shaken up on the run to the last and though he drifted left under pressure going away from the flight, he was running true up the hill and showed good acceleration to put the best part of three lengths between himself and his rivals for a cosy success. The next five were covered by less than two lengths and the runner-up was comprehensively outclassed when failing to justify favouritism at Warwick earlier this week. Furthermore, though the visuals suggested that the Cheltenham race rather fell apart due to a strong pace, this premise is not backed up by the sectional times which indicates that despite the respectable line-up, the form is perhaps not as strong as could be expected for such a race. Notwithstanding, Knight Salute could do no more than win as he did. His form and jumping ability set the standard in this field and though his wins have all come on good, he should have no problem on softer ground and may even feasibly improve. The yard's impressive strike rate has rather dropped off in recent weeks, but Milton Harris' charges are still running to form and he was close to landing a double at Lingfield on Wednesday. Interestingly, he also sent the useful Mondul to win this contest in 2003 when it was still held at the aforementioned venue.

Porticello bg Gary Moore j2-2-0 (130) 122 123 (132 FR)
Sholokhov (Chichicastenango){31}(0.87) 2/1 Worldbest 3rd Grand Prix d'Automne (G1), Auteuil 2009
https://www.equidia.fr/chevaux/porticello
Francois-Marie Cottin has sent the likes of Sanctuaire, Napolitain and Star de Mohaison across the channel over the years. Cousin David has yet to match those levels as an exporter although Busselton was a creditable sort last term and this season has seen Mr Cottin take the French three-year-old division by storm with a team including leading colts Paradiso and San Bruit, and leading fillies Matilda du Berlais and La Boetie. He also saddled the first two home in the Prix Grandak prior to the pair crossing the channel for pastures new. The Prix Grandak is a debutant contest with a rich history, being the launchpad of domestic stars Saint des Saints, Bonito Du Berlais, Beaumec De Houelle, On The Go and Beaumec De Houelle, as well as talented exports in Frodon, Far West, We Have A Dream and Quel Destin. This year’s edition was taken by Porticello who having tracked the leaders throughout, made his challenge in a steady rather than explosive fashion and after taking the lead at the last, managed to pull a couple of lengths clear on the run-in. Apart from blundering at the fifth, he jumped well enough for a debutant and his style of racing was in keeping with his pedigree; being a Sholokhov nephew of the Grand Prix d’Automne third Worldbest. Notwithstanding, there is some precocity in his pedigree as his dam is a half-sister to graded placed juvenile Orcantara and the aunt of Prix Cambaceres runner-up Invicter. Furthermore, while Sholokhov is a Gold Cup winning sire, he is also responsible for Shishkin as well as classy youngsters Msassa, Esmondo and the aforementioned Invicter. Almost seven months have passed since the Prix Grandak and the form is taking a very respectable shape. Runner-up Magistrato looked very impressive when winning at Chepstow on his first run for Paul Nicholls and was subsequently a respectable fourth at Cheltenham. Third placed Imprenable won his next two starts before finishing second in the Groupe II Prix Georges de Talhouet-Roy and fourth in the Groupe I Prix Cambaceres. File au Poteau in fourth won a useful conditions hurdle at Auteuil in October, fifth placed Coup de Coeur is one of the better chasers of his generation, the sixth placed Mourinho Has won a valuable handicap at the venue before finishing fifth in the Cambaceres and the only other finisher is a dual winner in the provinces. Representing a Gary Moore yard with a strong and solid record in the sphere, Porticello was thrown straight into pattern company for his British debut, which came in the Wensleydale Hurdle at Wetherby towards the end of October. His Grandak form was enough to see him sent off the 6/4 favourite and he was able to win quite comfortably in the end. However, his round of hurdling was anything but impressive and there was not a flight where he jumped especially well. Slow and untidy at the first, he hopped over the second, skewed when steady at the third, steady again when close to the fourth, close at the fifth, hit the top of the sixth, was big and steep over the seventh and two out (where he stumbled on landing) and big again over the last. Racing close to the lead throughout, he did travel well in fairness and though he did not kick on after taking the lead at the first flight in the home straight, and wandered quite conspicuously under pressure, he did eventually run out a decisive four length winner while giving away upwards of five pounds. None of the first four have been out since and though decent enough at face value, the performance was still someway short of his Auteuil outing. Porticello, in keeping with his pedigree and profile, can be described as green and unfurnished horse with the potential to make a very good horse once he matures and gets a trip. He clearly has the ability to do well in this contest although the strength of his prospects largely depends on how much he has learned during the six weeks since his last appearance.

Too Friendly bg Dan Skelton f6-1-2 (85) 91 j2-2-0 (126) 111 122
Camelot (One Cool Cat){14-c}(0.86) 2/2 Arch Stanton 2nd 3m½f Handicap Hurdle (97), Roscommon 2018
In 2019, the Gredleys sent Allmankind to Dan Skelton for whom he won graded contests at Cheltenham and Chepstow prior to placing third in the Triumph. Last season, Stepney Causeway followed suit and landed a four timer during his first campaign in the sphere. This time around, the first such horse was Too Friendly who left George Scott with a rating of 85. Placed on his first two racecourse appearances at Lingfield over the winter, Too Friendly returned after a break to win the ten furlong maiden at Doncaster’s Lincoln meeting, winning under a confident ride with something to spare from dual subsequent winner Dhushan. He then took a step up in class when contesting the Listed Blue Riband Trial at Epsom and while he finished sixth of eight, it still marked a career best. Too Friendly had taken a keen hold at Epsom and though cheekpieces were applied for his two subsequent outings, they failed to negate the issue as he finished closer to last than first in handicaps at Royal Ascot and at Newmarket. In Dan Skelton, Too Friendly joined one of the strongest yards in the division who along with a healthy winners to runners rate of 38.55%, also boasts some talented sorts in Bedrock, Azzuri, Nube Negra and Cabot Cliffs along with the aforementioned Gredley representatives. While Too Friendly’s granddam was the highly talented filly Marling, jumpers are a sparse breed on the damline with moderate Arch Stanton (2/2) being the only nearby relative to show form in the sphere. Camelot made a strong start to his career as a stallion in the division with his first crop spearheaded by Sir Erec and Gardens Of Babylon. His rate rather flattened out after the first crop, but this term has gotten off to a good start with wins from Realist in Ireland, and from Too Friendly himself on his hurdling debut at Stratford early this month. Though coming off second best in a flip flop battle for favouritism with Oceanline, he got his revenge in the race itself. His jumping did not get off to the cleanest start as he hopped and stumbled slightly at the first, and he was slightly reticent when big over the third. Nevertheless, despite racing keenly in the early stages, Too Friendly was travelling much the better going over the hill second time. He had to be asked to reach top gear but his response was fairly swift and though outjumped at the last by his resolute rival, Too Friendly had enough to cross the line a length to the good. He could have settled a bit better and there his hurdling could have been more consistent, but the positives outweighed the negatives and atop a solid foundation is ample scope for further improvement. After missing his engagement in the Wensleydale due to an infected foot, Too Friendly went some way to fulfilling some of that potential when comfortably securing his brace in an introductory contest at Newcastle a fortnight ago. Taking a hold in the rear off a modest tempo, Too Friendly jumped much better than at Stratford, making only a few slight errors while dashing through the snow. Still bringing up a tightly packed field at three out, he only needed shaking up to move into the lead after the penultimate flight and a superior jump to his rival's at the last gave him the impetus to shoot nearly five lengths clear on the run-in. This will be Too Friendly's first foray into pattern company and his form to date does leave him a few pounds short of the protagonists. Nevertheless, he has every right to take his place in this line-up and if he continues his improvement then he would be dangerous to discount. Indeed, a literal interpretation of proxy form through Saint Riquier and Twilight Twist makes a case for his hurdling form being the strongest here.

Impulsive One bg Nicky Henderson f8-1-5 (80) 83 j3-2-1 (127) 116 127
Union Rags (Lonhro){4-m}(1.77) 2/2 El Picador 1st Juvenile Hurdle, Musselburgh 2019
Winning one of his eight starts for William Haggas, Impulsive One had shown useful form on the flat at up to twelve furlongs. Making the switch to Nicky Henderson, he has built on that foundation over hurdles with wins of twelve and ten lengths. His hurdling debut came at Plumpton in the middle of September where he held an outstanding chance on paper. Despite opening at 11/8 in the morning, he went out to 7/2 at one point on course before being trimmed back into 11/4 at the off. However, there was no rationale for his drift offered during the race itself. Tracking the leaders from the outset, he was lit up by the stumble of Fred Bear at the first, but either through the first time application of the hood, James Bowen's handling or Impulsive One's own nature, he had settled nicely after a furlong or so. He made a good impression with his jumping overall, as while he was skewed over the second and reached slightly at the next and though he went through the fifth, his round was characterised by speed, neatness and enthusiasm. Travelling strongly throughout, Impulsive One took the lead turning for home full of running and quickly established a wide advantage after the last before being eased close to the line to win by twelve lengths. His second jumps outing came at Huntingdon eleven days ago where there was no such uncertainly in the market as he started at 1/4 favourite. The hood was retained although he pulled considerably harder than at Plumpton with the most obvious explanation being that he had to make his own running. His hurdling was not as fluent either as he crashed through the first, stumbled after skewing at two out and was low at the last where he was also slow in getting away. Nevertheless, while he also clipped several of the flights in between, it was still a neat enough round for a juvenile and he never looked in danger of losing the contest. Impulsive One's third outing came at Kempton in mid-October and though slightly uneasy in the ring, drifting from 4/7 to 5/6, he was still sent off the clear favourite. Without getting a lead in the four-runner field, Impulsive One was forced to make his own running which was not ideal given his headstrong nature. Notwithstanding, his hurdling much more polished than at Plumpton and he was still on the bridle approaching the penultimate flight. There he made his only real error as he went through the top, but it did not cost him any real momentum and while he did not have enough to fend off Knight Salute's challenge on the run-in, he was still able to put nearly seven lengths between himself and the Alan King recruit in third. Given that he was conceding four pounds to the winner, seven if one accounts for the claim of the former's talented rider, Impulsive One emerges as best at the weights which in turn, makes this the strongest British performance in the sphere to date. Furthermore, Nicky Henderson has won this race twice for the double green with Peace And Co and We Have A Dream scoring in 2014 and 2017. However, the yard has not yet revealed a customary strong battalion in the division and Impulsive One has not shown himself to be of the same cloth as his predecessors. Moreover, on racecourse evidence and on breeding it is improbably that he will appreciate the cut in ground. The subsequent wind operation may bring out some improvement, but it is unlikely to be seen to best effect in these conditions. 

Kolisi bg David Pipe f7-1-4 (85) 90
Harzand (Footstepsinthesand){4-o}(0.75) 2/1 Shubaat 1st 3m Handicap Hurdle (130), Southwell 2014
The sole newcomer in this line-up, Kolisi makes his debut for David Pipe having fetched 55,000 guineas at the Tattersalls Autumn Sale. Gelded before seeing the racecourse for William Haggas, Kolisi stepped up on his Ripon debut in April with a good second at Nottingham the following month before getting off the mark in a soft ground, ten furlong Salisbury maiden in June. Tracking the leaders from the outset, he was moved into the clear at the distance whereafter he was pushed out to win cosily by just over two lengths. His rating of 87 seemed to be at the absolute limit of his performances to date and he was unable to run to his mark on his next three outings; hanging left and racing keenly in the process. However, dropped to 84 and with blinkers applied for the first time, Kolisi ran a career best when last seen in a ten furlong Doncaster handicap on soft ground. Though still taking a hold and looking rather suspect under pressure, Kolisi was eventually able to put up a strong challenge in the final furlong, getting to within a head of stablemate Titian at the line. Incidentally, Titian, who runs at Cheltenham, remains his stablemate having changed hands for 155,000 guineas at the same sale. Juvenile hurdlers formerly trained by William Haggas have a respectable winner to runner rate of 32.35% and their improvement rate of 41.3% is just above average. Best amongst these former inmates include Bedrock and Swnymor who each cost 70,000 guineas, again at the same sale. The only previous juvenile to move from Somerville Lodge to Pond House was Royal Rationale who won one from six during the 2007/08 campaign. David Pipe's record in the sphere is a strong one with a 40.13% winner to runner rate which increases to 52.94% with flat recruits rated 80 and above. However, while the first time strike rate of such horses is a decent 23.53%, they still generally improve from their debut outings and none of the yard's winning newcomers of any description has done so outside of ordinary company. Kolisi is set to be the first runner over hurdles for the dual Derby winning Harzand. A son of Sea The Stars, cousin of numerous winning jumpers (including useful juveniles Handazan and Hazariban) and measuring at 16.1hh, Harzand has the credentials to make a sire of jumpers. Kolisi is also a nephew of useful winning hurdler Shubaat and is related 3/2 with Miss Heritage and 5/4 with Well Chief. There is certainly enough in Kolisi's profile to suggest he can make a useful recruit to the sphere and conditions should hold no concerns for him. However, he could hardly have been set a tougher assignment for his debut. 

Magistrato bg Paul Nicholls j3-1-2 (127) 116 126 (129 FR)
Kapgarde (Poliglote){3-d}(1.00) 1/0 Franche Alliance 2nd Prix Beugnot (L,63.0), Enghien 2015 
https://www.equidia.fr/chevaux/magistrato
The prestige of the Prix Grandak, and esteem of David Cottin, are already covered in Porticello's profile. 
Magistrato, who also made his debut in the aforementioned race and in joining Paul Nicholls, follows in the hoofprints of Far West, Frodon, Quel Destin, Qualando and Marracudja who all started in the same contest. Fresh on his racecourse debut, Magistrato soon established a clear lead which he would ohld to the final flight where he was headed by Porticello. Jumping better overall than the winner, he done more by a lack of pace than fatigue and still managed to increase his advantage over the third placed Imprenable. A son of Kapgarde, who has an outstanding 50% winner to runner rate with his British and Irish juveniles, Magistrato's dam showed useful form over nineteen furlongs on heavy ground and is herself a half-sister to La Bague Au Roi and Kaysersberg. As such, the 3000 meters at Auteuil was unlikely to suit and while it is to his credit that he performed satisfactorily, it perhaps indicates that he would be a more longer term prospect. Nevertheless, Magistrato also looked a useful tool for this season when making a winning British debut at Chepstow in early October. Though money for Rocky Man saw him drift from a morning show of 2/5, Magistrato was still strongly fancied first time and after being available at 8/11 in the ring, contracted back into 4/7 at the off. Keen in the early stages, he made his own running at a steady tempo and though threatened for the lead at the top of the straight, was in total control at the distance and galloped on relentlessly to run out a twelve length winner from Rocky Man. Apart from being slightly untidy at the first and slow away from the fifth, there was no cause for complaint in the round of jumping as he confirmed his Auteuil proficiency. Though the race did not look strong outside of the front two, twenty-two length third placed Nazwa afforded the form some credence when finishing second off 103 on a Warwick handicap. Magistrato was then sent to Cheltenham for the Prestbury Hurdle, a race farmed by his trainer, and was sent off a well supported 6/4 favourite. Racing prominently, he was skewed over the first, tight at the second and wandered on the approach to the third. However, his jumping gave no cause for complaint from thereon. He did race quite keenly and though it was not to an alarming extent, it may have been enough to see him concede two places in the final strides. As mentioned in Knight Salute's profile, it appeared that he may have been the victim of the tactics employed. However, this is not backed up by the sectional times and while Chepstow runner-up Rocky Man still finished close in sixth, it did not give credence to the form in the context of this level. Magistrato is a useful juvenile and he is representing a yard with three wins in this contest including Monmiral who scored last year, and Quel Destin who followed the same path. Nevertheless, he has already been beaten by two of his rivals here and the only case for his reversing those placings rests on a five pound pull in the weights.

New Reality bg Nigel Hawke f6-1-0 (81) 86 j3-1-1 (112) 105 111
New Approach (Teofilo){5-f}(0.60) 2/1 Novis Adventus 1st 2m4f Handicap Hurdle (119), Worcester 2018
A winner of one from six on the flat for Jim Bolger with the form of his Tipperary success back in May working out very well, New Reality is another in the line of juvenile hurdlers to make the journey from Coolcullen to Stoodleigh. Though arguably fortuitous when making a winning hurdles bow at Perth in September, he became the sixth of the eleven such horses to win in the sphere. Starting the day as 5/2 joint favourite, he opened in the ring at 10/3 before being clipped into 11/4 co-favourite of three. Racing in midfield, he was fairly keen early but soon settled into a good rhythm. While he did not make any serious errors, he had a habit of steadying into his flights and did not get very high at three out. Making his move afterwards, he travelled strongly to loom upsides the leader at the penultimate flight. However, he was not as fluent as his rival as he hopped the flight and was slightly skewed; costing him some momentum. Though still seemingly full of running, he was not making ground on the leader and was a couple of lengths down when left in the lead at the last. There, he was very nearly brought down by Aliomaana and David Noonan did tremendously well to maintain the partnership. Such was the extent of New Reality's lead, it mattered not that his rider completed the race without irons as he passed the post fourteen lengths clear of the remainder. His next outing came at Wetherby the following month where he was backed to start the 10/11 favourite. After getting badly hampered at the first, he became lit up before settling again passing the stands. However, in an overly ambitious attempt to seize the initiative along the back, New Reality found himself with a wide lead and though he carried most of this advantage into the straight, he was quarry for his rivals. His cause was not helped by some sloppy jumping and though he was still in front at the last, a tired leap saw him capitulate as he finished a near three length second. New Reality's latest came at Warwick with first time cheekpieces applied. This headgear did not help him settle however and though he jumped better overall, he lost his prominent position along the turn for home and finished twenty-three lengths behind the winner. The soft ground may help him to leave his previous form behind if he settles better, but his official rating of 112 is still the ceiling of what he has shown thus far and would leave him with plenty to find in this company. 

Sacre Pierre bg Donald McCain j3-2-1 (113) 98 114 
On Est Bien (Goldneyev){8-a}(1.22) 1/1 Gold Tweet 1st Prix Hopper (G3 4yC), Compiegne 2021
An unraced horse with a good French pedigree prior to making a winning debut at Uttoxeter, Sacre Pierre is a full-brother to the good young jumper Gold Tweet along with two others who have shown respectable form in Apollo Creed and Chuck Bass. Granddam Jance was a good three-year-old hurdler in 1996 while the 1999 Prix Alain du Breil third Kidder appears at 3/1 on the damline. Fetching €8,000 at the Osarus two-year-old breeze up, his trainer Donald McCain has a strong record in the sphere with a 29.46% winners to runners rate. He also won this contest in 2019 with Navajo Pass while Starchitect finished second for him in the 2014 running. There was not a great deal of confidence in the market ahead of his Uttoxeter bow in late July as he drifted from a morning show of 11/2 before starting the race at twice that price. Nevertheless, he settled nicely in the rear and was not asked to make his move until three furlongs from home. Though his response to being shaken up was not immediate, he got to within a length of the leaders at the last and showed very good acceleration once given the office by Brian Hughes to win by six lengths. The form was boosted with a minor win from Keepyourdreamsbig who also finished fourth in the Wensleydale. Irishracing reported that Sacre Pierre was "not that fluent", but this does him a disservice. While he was sticky at the second, a bit late at the fifth and got close to the last, his better jumps outweighed his flawed ones and he was actually quite neat by and large. He made his second appearance five weeks later at Cartmel and he set the standard over his three rivals. A solid, long odds-on favourite, Sacre Pierre initially tucked in behind the leaders before going to the front entering the wood side second time round. His early jumping lacked fluency as he was steady and close at the first two before clipping the fourth. However, he soon remembered his job at the halfway stage and was neat over the next three. Though he was briefly and narrowly headed leaving the back, Sacre Pierre soon found another gear to see off his challenger. He did wander quite erratically on the approach to the last, but this was much more likely due to a lapse in concentration than any temperament concerns as he was smooth around all of the other turns, and ran true along the run-in. Beyond his being in good shape and confirming the promise of his debut, not much more was learned from that outing. Missing an intended engagement at Market Rasen due to stiffness Sacre Pierre made his latest appearance in the Wensleydale Hurdle six weeks ago. Starting the 11/2 third favourite of seven, he was held up in touch and jumped well enough with his only flaws being tight at the fifth and seventh and clipping the penultimate flight. Still in touch turning for home, he was the first horse under pressure but he responded in kind and in the vanguard jumping the last. He had no answer for Porticello however and while he plugged on resolutely, would also lose second in the final strides. Sacre Pierre is a likeable sort who goes well fresh and the yard is in decent enough form. A good showing would come as little surprise although he still finds himself on the same terms with Porticello with less scope to gain revenge.

Strong prospects
1. Knight Salute
Reasonable prospects
2. Porticello
3. Too Friendly
4. Magistrato
Feasible prospects
5. Sacre Pierre
6. Impulsive One
Moderate prospects
7. Kolisi
Negligible prospects
8. New Reality

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  • 2 weeks later...

Have managed to secure full-time employment as a third-sector administrator. While not pupil assistant trainer or bloodstock consultant, it still keeps me from going homeless again and is a position I am very much looking forward to undertaking. Will be a while before I can figure out a rhythm whereby I can set aside time for horsey stuff. Nevertheless, I have a few days to myself over chrimbo so to kick things off, Fontwell's juvenile on Boxing Day :)

FONTWELL - 26th DECEMBER - PREVIEW
Apart from last season, a juvenile hurdle has been held at Fontwell each Boxing Day since 2013. With the winners having an average seasonal RPR of 121.36, it is generally an above average affair, although it seldom produces anything of note. 2016 winner Rainbow Dreamer would finish second in the Finesse while the next two winners, Aiguille Rouge and Westbrook Bertie, both placed in the Chatteris Fen. However, beyond a handful of horses finishing well beaten in the Fred Winter, that is the extent of the race's prowess. This year's edition is headed by a Gary Moore horse whose first two British outings have resulted in placings at Cheltenham. However, should he fail to perform then the contest would be an average one with good recent form thin on the ground. The circuit at Fontwell is a sharp, flat, left-handed one although due to the distance of juvenile contests and the propensity for the ground to get testing, the winning DIs of 1.39 mean, 1.00 median are within the lowest third of British and Irish venues. Its clear round rate of 95.05% is among the lowest in the country and drops to 90.86% for newcomers. The strike rate of odds on favourites, standing at 51.35%, is nine points below the national average, although this particular contest generally goes to one prominent in the market with the median SP being less than 2/1. The going is currently described as soft and plenty of rain is predicted before post time so although there are only six declared runners, none of whom are habitual frontrunners, stamina will still be a useful attribute. 

Afternoon Tea bg Tony Carroll b1-0-0 (-) 74 j2-0-0 (-) 75 85 
Epaulette (Jeune Homme){5-h}(1.13) 1/2 See The Eagle Fly 1st Juvenile Hurdle, Fontwell 2020
Starting his career in bumpers, graduates of which have a 3.18% overall strike rate in the sphere, Afternoon Tea does not have the worst profile for a juvenile hurdler. Trainer Tony Carroll has a solid winner to runner rate of 21.54% and improvement rate of 51.43%. The pedigree is also interesting as he is an uncle of winning juveniles See The Eagle Fly and Lord Caprio, and the son of an Epaulette with a 28.57% winner to runner rate to date. However, his racecourse performances to date have been modest. After finishing eighth of eleven in a Huntingdon bumper, Afternoon Tea never involved himself in his jumps bow at Ludlow where he trailed in a twenty-one length last of seven. He was last seen five weeks ago in a shallow contest at Exeter where he was backed from a morning show of 25/1 to 17/2 at flagfall. Initially prominent, he rather lost concentration on the long approach to the second where he jumped right and was relegated to midfield. From there, he did not lose further ground but was outpaced on the turn for home and merely stayed on to maintain his position, finishing just over sixteen lengths behind the winner in fourth. Afternoon Tea does not jump badly and he should not have any issues with these conditions, although he does want for class against a number of these rivals.

Appreciate chg Milton Harris f7-0-0 (57) 75 
Australia (Giant's Causeway){19}(0.68) 0.5 Institution 2nd 2m Maiden Hurdle, Wexford 2019
Milton Harris has had an outstanding season in the sphere to date with four individual winners; three of whom were obtained at the Tattersalls July sale for 17,000 guineas or less. The least expensive of his purchases this term is set to be Appreciate, a seven race maiden for Tom Clover who went for 12,000 guineas at the Tattersalls Autumn sale. Tom Clover, former assistant to David Simcock, has already produced one winning juvenile from three and his former teacher as a source has a winner to runner rate of 17.24% which stands just below average. Appreciate's debut fourth at Newmarket as a two-year-old was his only performance which warranted a mark in the seventies. Beaten favourite on his reappearance in a Bath maiden, he was then well beaten in a Windsor novice. A break, gelding operation and switch to handicap company saw him beat just six of thirty two rivals home in four starts with his mark dropping from 72 to 57. He had excuses when hampered on his penultimate start at Kempton, but there was no such extenuation when last seen finishing sixth of nine at the same venue towards the end of October in first time tongue-tie. His pedigree is not without encouragement as Australia has a solid winner to runner rate of 21.05%, Giant's Causeway has a fair record as a damsire and though the damline is predominantly American flat orientated, half-brother Institution did place at four in a Wexford maiden. It is difficult to get away from the disappointing nature of Appreciate's form but there is some cause for enthusiasm in his profile. The yard's runners in first time cheekpieces have won two from six this year; which could be pertinent given Appreciate's propensity to take a hold in his races.

Cornicello bg Jamie Snowden f6-2-2 (39.0-85.8) 77 j1-0-1 (-) 91 105 
Penny's Picnic (Hawk Wing){4-i}(1.55) 0.5 Breezy Bell 1st 2m½f Handicap Hurdle (90), Ballinrobe 2020
https://www.racebets.com/en/horse-racing/race/details/id/4146008/external/20062
https://www.equidia.fr/chevaux/cornicello
French flat claiming races produce their fair share of winners in the sphere, and while few end up being much better than average over hurdles, those rated 82 and above counted amongst them seven winners from twelve prior to Cornicello's jumps debut at Ffos Las in late October. Cornicello who was claimed for €27,001 after finishing second at Compiegne over twelve furlongs in June was racing under the care of Henk Grewe (whose exports have count zero winners from four to date). After winning a pair of ten furlong contests last October at Stasbourg and Angers, his reappearance came in a listed contest at Longchamp. However, he failed to match the standard and finished a detached last of six. Keeping to listed company, albeit at a lower level, he was next seen at Düsseldorf for their Derby trial where he once again finished sixth, but was at least able to gain places in the closing stages. Moving to calmer waters, his latest appearance came in the aforementioned Compiegne claimer where he hit the front with a furlong to go, but did not look the most resolute under pressure, ultimately going down by a length in the end. While Cornicello's valeur translates to roughly 86 in BHA terms, it is very difficult to apply that kind of rating to his performances and even the RPR of 77 at Longchamp overestimates him by a few pounds. He was the first juvenile hurdler outside of France for his sire Penny's Picnic, whose credentials for the division are not strong. Primarily a sprinter by a Kheleyf whose own record was below average, Penny's Picnic is not the tallest at 1.62m and his strike rate in France is less than 4%. Half-brother Breezy Bell, a moderate handicapper, is the extent of winning jumpers on the nearby damline although the useful Hipsters and Please God appear at 3/2. The negatives notwithstanding, Cornicello's profile is not the worst and he made a respectable start to his new vocation fifty-nine days ago. Though a drifter in the morning, he received support in the ring, starting at 6/1 having been available at 11/1 during the opening exchanges. Tracking the leader on the inside, he was still moving nicely when jumping to the front three from home. However, he was unable to find an extra gear when challenged and after losing the lead at the penultimate flight, was relegated to a thirteen length third by the line. The easy winner emphatically doubled his tally next time at Sandown and the fourth subsequently ran to a similar level, giving the form a solid enough look. Trainer Jamie Snowden has been in fine form as of late and as his juveniles invariably step up on their debut efforts, Cornicello should keep Yorksea honest at the very least.

Many Words bg Tony Carroll f7-0-1 (58) 65 j2-0-0 (-) 79 90 
Kodi Bear (Fraam){2-f}(1.67) 0.5 Maria Magdelena 2nd Wensleydale Juvenile Hurdle (L), Wetherby 2019
Initially with Sheila Lavery in Ireland, Many Words cut little ice on his first four outings, but was able to follow a fourth of sixteen in a Cork handicap off 61 with a third placed finish over twelve furlongs at Tramore in a rated stakes. He failed to see out the extra two furlongs at Navan towards the end of August and would be next seen two months later making his hurdling debut at Ludlow. Steady in the ring and starting at 8/1, he raced prominently but was difficult to settle and would weaken from the home straight before beating only stablemate Afternoon Tea home. His second appearance came at Sandown where he drifted from 11/1 to 25/1 in the ring and never got involved from the rear of the field, finishing a tired and distant last of seven finishers. Many Words is not a bad jumper, but while he is a half-brother to the fair juvenile hurdler Maria Magdalena, he will likely need something much sharper to be seen to decent effect. 

Navegaon Gate bg Nigel Twiston-Davies f7-0-1 (70) 80
Frankel (Montjeu){16-g}(0.52) 0.5 Richard Of Yorke 3rd 4200m Grand National Hurdle, Riccarton Park 2021
Nigel Twiston-Davies is not famous for his juvenile hurdlers and he has only saddled winners in the sphere in just four of the past eleven seasons. This is not to suggest he is without the ability to do so as in the nineties, he was responsible for the likes of Mistinguett, Kerawi and Upgrade while more recently, he has handled such talented sorts as Bristol de Mai, Torpillo and Patman du Charmil. A common thread in his more recent juveniles, however, is that these were French breds who often had jumps experience. The most recent exception was Turning Gold who won the Victor Ludorum and finished fifth in the 2018 Frew Winter, propping up the comparatively modest 6.12% strike rate for UK/IRE flat recruits against the trainer's 33.33% rate with hurdlers and 27.78% with flat horses from across the channel. Bidding to turn the tide will be Navegaon Gate who while earning a seventies rating, failed to place in seven outings for Ed Walker. Continuing the theme of modest records, only one of Ed Walker's fourteen former inmates have scored in the sphere despite six of these being rated 77 or higher. Fetching 21,000 guineas at the Tattersalls Autumn sale, Navegaon Gate kept respectable company in Newbury maidens in the spring, finishing ahead of a trio of eighties rated animals on his reappearance, and doing the same when an eight length third behind Manobo and Mojo Star. A switch to handicapping failed to reap rewards however as an eleven length fourth at Newbury off 81 was followed by a gelding operation and three lacklustre efforts at Ffos Las, Haydock and Kempton where he was off the bridle a long way from home on each occasion. Navegaon Gate's pedigree is not without merit for his new vocation as half-brothers Richard Of Yorke and Coolongolook are winning jumpers in New Zealand and Ireland respectively while the useful Father Sky appears at 3/1 on the damline. It is difficult for Frankel to be as good with hurdlers as he is on the flat, but while his improvement rate is an unsurprisingly modest 28.57%, he still has a solid 11.54% strike rate in the sphere and damsire Montjeu is perfectly capable as a damsire of juveniles. If hurdles can reinvigorate Navegaon Gate then he should make a respectable recruit although he will likely benefit from experience. Incidentally, Navegaon Gate is an anagram of "Go an eat vegan" and what kind of vegan would this writer be if he did not highlight and endorse this subliminal propaganda? 

Yorksea chg Gary Moore f6-1-0 (72.6) 66 j2-0-2 (124) 111 122 
Sea The Stars (Pivotal){13-c}(1.82) 7/4 Proschema 2nd West Yorkshire Hurdle (G2), Wetherby 2021
https://www.equidia.fr/chevaux/yorksea
Gary Moore has a healthy record with his French flat recruits with ten of his twenty-two winning as juveniles, between 2004/05 and this season. This term's most accomplished such recruit to date has been Yorksea, who fetched €32,000 Arqana Summer. He was initially trained by Frédéric Head, whose former inmates have a strong 45.45% winner to runner rate, the strongest of these being Youmdor. Making his debut at Deauville last November, Yorksea cut little ice first time and would also finish down the field twice at Chantilly as well as on his handicap debut at Saint Cloud off 32 (70.4). A step down in class and a revised valeur of 30.5 (67.1) saw him get off the mark at the fifth time of asking in a 2100m handicap at Angers towards the end of May in a race named after his owner's wonder mare Goldikova. Starting at 16/1, Yorksea raced on the outer and moved from midfield to a more prominent position a mile from home. He went into a clear lead at the six furlong point and though he was headed at the distance when turning for home, he rallied gamely against the rail to get up in the final strides from a next time out winner. Yorksea's last race in France came in a good ground Saint Cloud handicap over 3000m in mid-June. Racing prominently once again, he looked in trouble turning into the straight and faded late on to finish just over four lengths behind the winner in fifth. Sire Sea The Stars (Starchitect, Stars Over The Sea) has a solid 30.77% winner to runner rate in the division, although Pivotal's record as a damsire has a more modest rate of 13.24%. Out of the Group One winning filly Queen's Jewel, Yorksea's damline offers no clues insofar as hurdling is concerned with its roots in Argentina. Useful hurdler Proschema does appear at 7/4, although that is so distant enough that it passes into trivial rather than useful information. Notwithstanding, despite the patchy pedigree, Yorksea has thus far acquitted himself well over hurdles, and his first two outings coming at Cheltenham are indicative of the yard's confidence in the horse. Making his British debut in the Grade 2 Prestbury Hurdle in mid November, he was slightly uneasy in the market going from 20/1 to 33/1. Settling in midfield, Yorksea made minor errors off a fairly modest tempo, although these were largely along the lines of giving his flights a little extra air. He found himself outpaced when the race picked up in earnest, but completed the final furlong fastest of all and was able to steal trio places up the hill to finish a three length third. Yorksea returned to the Cotswolds a month later for a Class 2 where he was steady in the ring, sent off the 5/2 favourite. Again racing in the rear, his jumping was hindered by a rival drifting in front of him, but he was much more fluent with a clearer view of the last three flights. Making headway down the hill, he led the pursuit of the leader turning for home and although the winner took full advantage of getting the first run, Yorksea was able to put distance between himself and his rivals. The Prestbury Hurdle form has been franked by Knight Salute taking the Grade 2 Summit Hurdle, and though the runner-up failed to land a maiden next time, he was still plenty clear of the remainder. Yorksea's hurdles achievements are much the strongest on offer here and he represents a yard which has had a winner and two placings in this race along with a 27.78% strike rate with juveniles at the venue. The soft ground is a new factor for Yorksea although on breeding, he should be able to cope. Furthermore, while the potential lack of pace may be an issue, Yorksea does have a turn of foot once he gets going and with Jamie Moore having twenty wins from sixty-five with juveniles around Fontwell, he should have a good idea of when to pull the trigger.

tl:dr
Afternoon Tea - Bred for the game and should be alright in the conditions. Backed on second jumps outing where one paced and will likely want for class here.

Appreciate - Little form after fair flat debut for Tom Clover. Has joined yard that can do little wrong in the sphere and is not unfeasibly bred. Flat form is a concern and a couple of rivals have more substantial profiles.

Cornicello - Strongest flat form on official marks and jumped well when third on hurdles bow at Ffos Las. Juveniles for in-form trainer usually improve from debut and though form is not of Yorksea's calibre, should give him something to ponder.

Many Words - No better than fair maiden on flat in Ireland. Half-brother to reasonable juvenile and not the worst jumper but big question mark over stamina.

Navegaon Gate - Failed to place on flat for trainer whose future juveniles have poor record. Early flat form not without potential and new trainer is capable, albeit with different sorts. May do better with experience.

Yorksea - Winner in France. Thrown in at the deep end since going over hurdles but has acquitted himself well and sets clear standard here. Yard has strong record at the venue. Will be trying soft for the first time and may do with stronger pace but concerns are mitigated by breeding and jockey. 

Strong prospects
1. Yorksea
Reasonable prospects
2. Cornicello
Feasible prospects
3. Appreciate
4. Navegaon Gate
Moderate prospects
5. Afternoon Tea
Negligible prospects
6. Many Words

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Wanted to do previews for the races at Kempton and Wetherby but thanks to 48 hour declarations not being a thing on the busiest week of racing of the sodding year, I have only had time to preview the Finale Hurdle. Enjoy :)

With the festive weather being rather sensible this year, the first Grade One juvenile hurdle of the season is set to place on its intended date. The Finale Hurdle did not have a winner follow up in the Triumph until Mysilv landed the brace in the 1993/94 season. Nevertheless, since its establishment in 1971, in which that season's Triumph winner would place third behind Ballytruckle, the Finale Hurdle has maintained solid claims to being the most important juvenile hurdle this side of the New Year. During the seventies, winners included classy sorts in Fighting Kate and Decent Fellow while in the 1974 renewal, the ill-fated Philominsky handed the great Night Nurse his first defeat over hurdles. The eighties began with future Champion Hurdle runner-up and useful jumps sire Broadsword winning in 1980. Though a few lean years followed the race's move to the Welsh National card in 1981, Out Of The Gloom and High Knowl went some way to redeeming the race's standing while Wahiba would place in both the Finale and the Triumph in 1987/88. 1988 saw Royal Derbi, Ikdam and 100/1 shot Bradbury Star beaten upwards of fourteen lengths and the nineties began with festival winners Crystal Spirit and Oh So Risky finishing second and fifth respectively although only Mysilv would make an effort in maintaining those  heady heights in 1993. The new millenium started with a bang as Jair du Cochet got the better of Bilboa. Good Bye Simon, Franchoek and Walkon counted themselves as the classiest winners of the 2000s while popular talents Turko, Fair Along, Twist Magic and Reve de Sivola would also appear. Countrywide Flame and Smad Place trailed March Warbler in 2011 since which, Bristol de Mai, Defi du Seuil, Allmankind and Adagio have headed the roll call, with Houblon des Obeaux, Sam Winner, Kentucky Hyden and Old Guard amongst the numerous talented beaten horses over the past decade.

With twelve runners set to face the starter, this season's renewal will have the largest field since 2007. Nevertheless, quality is not compromised by quantity as save for the absences of Knight Salute, Interne de Sivola and In This World, the line-up is very much representative of the best seen in the British division to date. The twelve youngsters have between themselves thirteen wins and £156,197 in prize money. Five bring unbeaten records and the three maidens have each ran creditably in races worth over £19,000 to the winner. While it is folly to speculate on the future impact of this contest, there is a healthy blend of proven form and vast potential amidst the field. 

Though the meeting will almost certainly go ahead without the threat of a pesky inspection, a searching stamina test still awaits these young animals. Chepstow's winners' DIs of 0.87 median, 1.20 mean are lower only at Cheltenham and Hexham, although the completion rate of 86.66% being of a average nature is indicitive of the class of runner and its relative fairness as a hurdling test (96.38% clear round). Such fairness is also reflected in the strong record of odds-on favourites, with the 80% strike rate being the highest of all British courses with more than eleven such juveniles; not that anything here should start odds-on. Since 2004, seven winners of this contest started on the flat (6.93% SR), seven had jumps experience in France (19.44%) and two were unraced prior to competing in British juveniles (25%). Several in this field have made the running and/or raced prominently. The going is currently described as good and while Boxing Day should be dry, heavy rain is expected on the morning of the race. 

Triumph Betting
Forever Blessed 25/1
Porticello 25/1
Rocky Man 25/1
Skycutter 40/1
Forever William 50/1
Iroko 50/1
Magistrato 50/1
Tease And Seize 50/1
Saint Segal 66/1

Forever Blessed bg Harry Fry j2-2-0 (128) 118 120 
Zoffany (Oasis Dream){4-r}(1.40) 3/1 Total Command 1st 2m4f Maiden Hurdle, Great Meadow 2012
One of two runners in the field whose racecourse debuts came in this division, Forever Blessed first venture came at Ffos Las towards the end of October. Costing €22,000 as a yearling Forever Blessed is from the quality Juddmonte distaff line of Wince and Quiff. Total Command, who won a hurdle in America, is the closest jumper on the damline although the useful Ulundi and Master Dino appear further back. Zoffany has a solid record in the division with a winner to runner rate of 26% and improvement rate of 48.15%, although the same could not be said of damsire Oasis Dream who even including Forever Blessed, has a strike rate of just 5.56%. Given that Irish bred unraced debutants had a strike rate of 2.03% going into the Ffos Las contest, and that trainer Harry Fry was hitherto without a first-time out scorer, the stats were against Forever Blessed in what looked a decent little contest. Nevertheless, he received outside support in the betting, starting at 17/2 having been available at 17/2. Held up towards the rear in a fairly steadily run affair, Forever Blessed was asked to take closer order on the turn for home and though his response was not immediate, he travelled comfortably on the run to the penultimate flight and landed with a lead which would be extended by a few lengths at the last. From there, he was pushed out to win by a cosy eleven lengths. Apart from steadying and getting close to the second, there was little complaint in his hurdling with his being slightly novicey at the first and three out being the sum of his offences. A couple of his rivals disappointed and other than the fourth running to a similar level next time, the form has yet to be tested. Nevertheless, he was backed as though defeat was out of the question when reappearing in an introductory contest at Sandown early this month and duly landed odds of 4/9. Racing prominently this time, he jumped into the lead at the distance and went further ahead as the line neared, winning by eighteen lengths from a previous winner. He posted another decent round of hurdling, with only a few clippings down the back and his being rather big at two out counted against him. Again, the bare form is not of a high standard and strictly speaking, his official mark of 128 exceeds his performances by roughly half a stone. Notwithstanding, his place in the field is still warranted by his efforts to date and he is very much entitled to improve given his inexperience. Furthermore, he has already shown himself adept in testing conditions and is versatile regarding tactics. There is a lack of proven form and his ability to fully get a trip at this level remains to be seen, but a strong showing for his trainer's first runner in this contest can not be discounted.

Forever William chg Alan King f8-0-5 (73) 81 j1-1-0 (-) 110 118
Sea The Moon (Arch){3-l}(1.00) 2/1 Gallic Destiny 1st 2m3f Novices' Hurdle, Fontwell 2015
Alan King is an outstanding trainer of juvenile hurdlers and his record in this particular contest reads as two winners and three placings from eight runners. Interestingly, his two winners and his runner-up (Franchoek, Walkon and Karezak) all came into the race having been out within a fortnight of the race. Though less experienced than the aforementioned, Forever William will be making a quick reappearance having won on his hurdling debut at Newbury twelve days ago; the same race where Walkon finished second to Zaynar before winning at Chepstow. An eight race maiden on the flat, Forever William had been given to racing lazily as well as keenly, and was also seen to hang to his right. Cheekpieces were applied on his penultimate flat start at Nottingham where he made up a lot of ground in a fourteen furlong handicap but was unable to find the post in time. He failed to justify favouritism back at Nottingham on his final flat outing over two miles, expending a fair amount of energy by pulling hard early. His final rating of 73 would not be the highest among juvenile recruits, but his best performances are still respectable in the context of this contest both historically and in this term's running. By Sea The Moon, whose Allmankind and Tritonic countribute to his winner to runner rate of 29.41%, Forever William is a nephew of winning novice Gallic Destiny, with the useful Alsaada appearing at 3/2 on the damline. The Newbury contest had been won four times by his trainer in the past decade and has been contested over the years by the likes of Clan des Obeaux, Third Intention and Hebridean as well as the aforementioned Walkon and Zaynar. Sent off a steady 6/1 third favourite, Forever William was initially held up in midfield before moving into a more prominent position along the back. Though caught rather flat footed on the cross section, he was back on the bridle in the straight and jumped two out with a share of the lead where he made his only error in the race. There was no immediate acceleration under pressure, but he stayed on strongly on the run-in, winning by over four lengths. The quality of form is difficult to quantify as four of the first five home were making their hurdling bows. Nevertheless, the newcomers each brought solid flat form and represented good yards while the third placed finisher was well backed to atone for a disappointing debut. Furthermore, the winning time does compare favourably to that set by the promising I Am Maximus in the following maiden hurdle. Forever William is difficult to appraise on a sole outing, promising that it was, particularly as he was not the most straightforward on the flat. Nevertheless, the switch to hurdling appears to have given him a refreshed outlook on the game and as the chosen representative of a confident trainer who knows this race as well as anybody, he ought to be taken seriously. 

Genuflex bg Milton Harris f11-1-5 (74) 79 j3-1-2 (113) 104 114
Holy Roman Emperor (Galileo){1-i}(1.13) 0.5 Gendarme 1st 2m Handicap Hurdle (88), Limerick 2021
A winner on the flat for Richard Hannon, Genuflex earned his initial victory at the third time of asking in a Windsor nursery off 74 last August. Though he failed to supplement this success in eight further attempts, Genuflex did run to form over ten furlongs during the spring and summer including on his latest outing in that sphere when showing good tenacity but failing to make all in a Nottingham classified stakes. He subsequently joined the capable Milton Harris for 20,000 guineas at the Tattersalls July Sale. By a Holy Roman Emperor who wins his fair share, and being a half-brother to a winning handicap hurdler, there was every chance he could build his profile over hurdles. He was well backed to do so on his stable/hurdling debut at Ludlow early in October and only subsequent Huntingdon winner, Mister Allegro, prevented his landing the 20/1 come 5/1 plunge. Though occasionally tight at his hurdles, Genuflex posted an efficient round of jumping overall and travelled well in midfield for much of the contest. In contention turning for home, he found himself outpaced between the last two and was slow getting away from the final flight. Nevertheless, he plugged on along the run-in to snatch second in the final strides with subsequent improver Saint Riquier another four lengths behind. Entering calmer waters at Sedgefield eleven days later, Genuflex's profile saw him sent off a worthy 4/11 favourite. Making his own running from the outset, he raced keenly while setting a modest tempo. Though he hit the top of the third, rather missed the sixth and ran down the penultimate flight, his jumping was neat enough overall. Genuflex entered the straight half a dozen lengths clear of his rivals and after being shaken up away from two out, was in cruise control for the rest of the race; crossing the line seventeen lengths clear of the remainder. Stepping up to Listed company for Wetherby's Wensleydale Hurdle, Genuflex appeared to be quite overfaced, although he was supported in the ring from 14/1 into 10/1 at the off. Held up in the rear off a quite modest gallop, he still had only one behind turning for home. It was a tightly packed bunch however and was able to follow the increased pace in the straight, jumping the last within a length of leader Porticello. Though he was no match for the ultimately comfortable winner, he did get the better of a battle for second in the final strides. This marked a new career best, exceeding the best of his flat efforts in the process. Milton Harris has been having a fantastic season and he did saddle Mondul to finish second in the 2003 running of this contest so it may be dangerous to underestimate his charges. However, even Genuflex's best form would still leave him with a good deal to find in this company and it is difficult to see where he can find the necessary improvement in conditions which are unlikely to see him at his strongest. 

Iroko bg Oliver Greenall b1-0-0 j1-0-1 (-) - 131
Cokoriko (Martaline){u}(0.33) 1/0 Boscraie 1st 3600m 4yo AQPS Chase, Auteuil 2015
https://www.equidia.fr/chevaux/iroko-1
The Prix Isopani is a three-year-old contest held at Auteuil in September for AQPS horses making their hurdling debuts. Established in 2012, its most famous graduate is Bristol de Mai who landed the 2014 renewal before making a winning British debut in the Finale Hurdle three months later. Other talented sorts to come out of the Isopani familiar to British and Irish racegoers include Alcala (2nd in 2013), Calett Mad (3rd in 2015) and Dame de Compagnie (2nd in 2016) while Figuero would be the most notable graduate who stayed to ply his trade in France. Last season's second and third, Homme Public and Houx Gris each made immediate moves across la manche with the ill-fated latter finishing third in the Finale and fourth in the Fred Winter for Paul Nicholls. The former, who would win at Market Rasen, was acquired by Oliver Greenall and it is that trainer who unleashes this year's Isopani second in Iroko. He started his career with Emmanuel Clayeux, whose exports in the sphere have a terrific winner to runner rate of 66.67%, and include the likes of Defi du Seuil, Apple's Jade, Une Artiste and Qualando. Sire Cokoriko has a fine winner to runner rate of 31.34% with French three-year-olds, headed by Polirico, while dam Boscraie won a four-year-old chase at Auteuil in 2015. The damline also features plenty of other winners such as Ouest Vendeen, Un Vendeen and Rock And Co at 2/1, and three other winners out of the third dam. Iroko first saw action in an AQPS bumper at Moulins where he finished a one paced, ten length fourth behind a cousin of Espoir d'Allen who has since joined Willie Mullins, a length ahead of a subsequent Fontainebleu winner. With the services of James Reveley, who was carrying a kilo overweight, Iroko was sent off the fifth favourite of thirteen for the Isopani. Held up in touch, he jumped soundly over his first five hurdles before missing the sixth where he stumbled on landing while reaching for a leg. This did not appear to have a discernible impact on his confidence and he was prominent turning for home. He had no answer for the winner's turn of foot, but ran on strongly to put just over a length between himself and the remainder. The form of the race has since been franked by the winner, who won a good conditions race back at the venue, as well as the third who has landed two good races of his own including the €63,000 Prix Chalet. Though difficult to quantify a solitary performance in a field of newcomers, a mark in the early 130s would not be unreasonable. Subsequently purchased by JP McManus, Iroko could make into a serious recruit to the division and is entitled to respect even in this company. However, while Oliver Greenall has a solid record in the sphere, and is actually the leading British trainer of juveniles with a 100% clear round record (128 runs and counting without a fall or unseat), his charges invariably come on for their first outings with only one from thirty-five scoring first time.

Magistrato bg Paul Nicholls j3-1-2 (127) 116 126 129FR 
Kapgarde (Poliglote){3-d}(1.00) 1/0 Franche Alliance 2nd Prix Beugnot (L,63.0), Enghien 2015 
https://www.equidia.fr/chevaux/magistrato
The prestige of the Prix Grandak, and esteem of David Cottin, are covered in Porticello's profile.
Magistrato, who also made his debut in the aforementioned race and in joining Paul Nicholls, follows in the hoofprints of Far West, Frodon, Quel Destin, Qualando and Marracudja who all started in the same contest. Fresh on his racecourse debut, Magistrato soon established a clear lead which he would ohld to the final flight where he was headed by Porticello. Jumping better overall than the winner, he done more by a lack of pace than fatigue and still managed to increase his advantage over the third placed Imprenable. A son of Kapgarde, who has an outstanding 50% winner to runner rate with his British and Irish juveniles, Magistrato's dam showed useful form over nineteen furlongs on heavy ground and is herself a half-sister to La Bague Au Roi and Kaysersberg. As such, the 3000 meters at Auteuil was unlikely to suit and while it is to his credit that he performed satisfactorily, it perhaps indicates that he would be a more longer term prospect. Nevertheless, Magistrato also looked a useful tool for this season when making a winning British debut at Chepstow in early October. Though money for Rocky Man saw him drift from a morning show of 2/5, Magistrato was still strongly fancied first time and after being available at 8/11 in the ring, contracted back into 4/7 at the off. Keen in the early stages, he made his own running at a steady tempo and though threatened for the lead at the top of the straight, was in total control at the distance and galloped on relentlessly to run out a twelve length winner from Rocky Man. Apart from being slightly untidy at the first and slow away from the fifth, there was no cause for complaint in the round of jumping as he confirmed his Auteuil proficiency. Though the race did not look strong outside of the front two, twenty-two length third placed Nazwa afforded the form some credence when finishing second off 103 on a Warwick handicap. Magistrato was then sent to Cheltenham for the Prestbury Hurdle, a race farmed by his trainer, and was sent off a well supported 6/4 favourite. Racing prominently, he was skewed over the first, tight at the second and wandered on the approach to the third. However, his jumping gave no cause for complaint from thereon. He did race quite keenly and though it was not to an alarming extent, it may have been enough to see him concede two places in the final strides. It initially appeared that he may have been the victim of the tactics employed. However, this is not backed up by the sectional times and while Chepstow runner-up Rocky Man still finished close in sixth, it did not give credence to that form in the context of this level. Magistrato is a useful juvenile and he is representing a yard with two wins (Quel Destin and Adrien du Pont) and seven placings in this contest. Nevertheless, he has already been beaten by Porticello at Auteuil and Saint Riquier at Cheltenham and the only case for his reversing those placings rests on his experience at this venue, albeit on better ground.

Porticello bg Gary Moore j3-2-1 (132) 122 132
Sholokhov (Chichicastenango){31}(0.87) 2/1 Worldbest 3rd Grand Prix d'Automne (G1), Auteuil 2009
https://www.equidia.fr/chevaux/porticello
Francois-Marie Cottin has sent the likes of Sanctuaire, Napolitain and Star de Mohaison across the channel over the years. Cousin David has yet to match those levels as an exporter although Busselton was a creditable sort last term and this season has seen Mr Cottin take the French three-year-old division by storm with a team including leading colts Paradiso and San Bruit, and leading fillies Matilda du Berlais and La Boetie. He also saddled the first two home in the Prix Grandak prior to the pair crossing the channel for pastures new. The Prix Grandak is a debutant contest with a rich history, being the launchpad of domestic stars Saint des Saints, Bonito Du Berlais, Beaumec De Houelle, On The Go and Beaumec De Houelle, as well as talented exports in Frodon, Far West, We Have A Dream and Quel Destin. This year’s edition was taken by Porticello who having tracked the leaders throughout, made his challenge in a steady rather than explosive fashion and after taking the lead at the last, managed to pull a couple of lengths clear on the run-in. Apart from blundering at the fifth, he jumped well enough for a debutant and his style of racing was in keeping with his pedigree; being a Sholokhov nephew of the Grand Prix d’Automne third Worldbest. Notwithstanding, there is some precocity in his pedigree as his dam is a half-sister to graded placed juvenile Orcantara and the aunt of Prix Cambaceres runner-up Invicter. Furthermore, while Sholokhov is a Gold Cup winning sire, he is also responsible for Shishkin as well as classy youngsters Msassa, Esmondo and the aforementioned Invicter. Almost seven months have passed since the Prix Grandak and the form is taking a very respectable shape. Runner-up Magistrato looked very impressive when winning at Chepstow on his first run for Paul Nicholls and was subsequently a respectable fourth at Cheltenham. Third placed Imprenable won his next two starts before finishing second in the Groupe II Prix Georges de Talhouet-Roy and fourth in the Groupe I Prix Cambaceres. File au Poteau in fourth won a useful conditions hurdle at Auteuil in October, fifth placed Coup de Coeur is one of the better chasers of his generation, the sixth placed Mourinho Has won a valuable handicap at the venue before finishing fifth in the Cambaceres and the only other finisher is a dual winner in the provinces. Representing a Gary Moore yard with a strong and solid record in the sphere, Porticello was thrown straight into pattern company for his British debut, which came in the Wensleydale Hurdle at Wetherby towards the end of October. His Grandak form was enough to see him sent off the 6/4 favourite and he was able to win quite comfortably in the end. However, his round of hurdling was anything but impressive and there was not a flight where he jumped especially well. Slow and untidy at the first, he hopped over the second, skewed when steady at the third, steady again when close to the fourth, close at the fifth, hit the top of the sixth, was big and steep over the seventh and two out (where he stumbled on landing) and big again over the last. Racing close to the lead throughout, he did travel well in fairness and though he did not kick on after taking the lead at the first flight in the home straight, and wandered quite conspicuously under pressure, he did eventually run out a decisive four length winner while giving away upwards of five pounds. Though decent enough at face value, the performance was still someway short of his Auteuil outing. Nevertheless, in keeping with his pedigree and profile, he could have been described as green and unfurnished horse with the potential to make a very good horse once he matures and gets a trip and he demonstrated significant improvement in his constitution during the six weeks which preceded his latest outing, which came in the Grade 2 Summit Hurdle at Doncaster just over a fortnight ago. Solid in the market and sent off the 6/4 favourite, Porticello jumped much better overall with tight and steady leap at the first followed by four good jumps from the front. Increasing the tempo on entering the straight, Porticello made his first real error three out as he rather hopped onto the top of the flight, flattening it in the process. He was good when shaken up on the approach to the penultimate hurdle and though still showing signs of greeness, was still doing enough to fend off the proven speedsters Knight Salute and Impulsive One. However, his immaturity would manifest with another clumsy leap over the last which cost him momentum and two positions in a matter of strides. Despite having to track back briefly, Porticello managed to regain second on the run-in and may well have finished closer but for his transgressions. Whether he would have been able to outbattle Knight Salute is another matter. Nevertheless, the Summit performance would still be much the strongest domestic form and supplements the promise shown in the Grandak. While Gary Moore, who enjoyed a Boxing Day treble at Fontwell, has yet to win the Finale, he has saddled Nassalam, Sussex Ranger and Adopted Hero to finish placed and Porticello has arguably more potential than any of these. With further improvement still a very feasible prospect, particularly on this softer ground, Porticello sets a strong standard for his rivals to match.

Rocky Man bc Dan Skelton f2-1-0 (-) j2-0-1 (-) 109 121
Doctor Dino (Speedmaster){7-a}(0.33) 2/1 Rosarina 1st 3500m 4yo Conditions Hurdle, Toulouse 2009
https://www.equidia.fr/chevaux/rocky-man
Dan Skelton won this race in 2019 with Allmankind and is responsible for In This World, who features most prominently of the British trained horses in the Triumph markets. Nevertheless, his chosen one for this year's Finale is the twice raced maiden, Rocky Man. By Doctor Dino, half of whom's British and Irish juveniles (including Sceau Royal, Fil Dor, Good Ball and Dino Mite) won during their first campaigns and his three-year-old jumpers in France have an outstanding winner to runner rate of 42.86% from ninety-one horses. Though the damline is less prolific in the sphere, which is understandable given that the third dam was a Chilean import, Rocky Man's auntie did win a four-year-old hurdle at Toulouse. After making an inconspicuous debut at Machecoul back in February, Rocky Man got off the mark in emphatic style when winning a restricted two mile contest at Saumur. Initially racing in the lead, he was restrained to settle behind the leaders passing the stands first time. He would take up the running again leaving the back for the final time and was ridden into the best part of a ten length lead at the distance before being eased in the last hundred metres. The race, being worth just €10,500, has produced just one subsequent winner in a modest Argentan hurdle, although the well beaten runner-up has run consistently in subsequent outings so his valeur of 29.0 (63.8) gives some indication of the form's merit. Rocky Man's DI of 0.33, along with his winning over two miles during the spring, may leave him vulnerable to the pacier juveniles in the upper echelons, and he found himself at the hands of a comprehensive drubbing by Magistrato on his British/hurdling debut at Chepstow in early October. He does possess a strong reputation however and was subject to solid market support beforehand which saw him sent off the 3/1 second favourite. Tracking the leader throughout, posted a perfectly acceptable round of jumping with only his being slightly steady and tight at the first, and somewhat untidy and slow getting away from the last, being his only blemishes. Rocky Man briefly threatened the lead at the top of the straight, but had no answer for Magistrato's relentless galloping. Next seen in the Grade 2 Prestbury Hurdle at Cheltenham in November, Rocky Man had some outside support in the market, but was still sent off the 11/1 fifth favourite of nine. Held up at the rear of the field, Rocky Man was just about in touch on the turn for home, but never even feigned any serious involvement and was outpaced by all rivals; front-runners, closers and all. To his credit, he finished within five lengths of the winner in conditions which were patently unsuitable. Several of his opponents have stronger form in the book, but there is a real possibility that these conditions could see significant improvement from Rocky Man and with the yard back in form with a Market Rasen double, a good showing would not come as a surprise. 

Romeo's Bond bg Milton Harris f5-0-0 (55) 60 j2-1-1 (111) 102 102
Monsieur Bond (Daylami){20-c}(1.67) 0.5 Stimulating Song 1st 2m5f Handicap Hurdle (128), Cheltenham 2020
Stablemate of Genuflex, Romeo's Bond ran five times on the flat without starting shorter than 22/1, or finishing nearer than fifth. Prior to his switching to hurdles, sire Monsieur Bond had just one winner from seventeen in the division. Nevertheless, half-brother and stablemate Stimulating Song has shown useful hurdles form despite also having a speedy sire in Stimulation. The application of cheekpieces, the yard's fine season and the abysmal quality of the field saw Romeo's Bond start the 3/1 second favourite on his hurdling bow. Held up in touch in a steadily run affair, Romeo's Bond joined the leader three from home and was travelling strongest, albeit slightly awkwardly, on the run to two out. After a clean jump at the last, he wandered both due to pressure and being alone, but still won comfortably in the end. His jumping was also reasonable, with his only real flaw coming when getting tight while hopping over the second. Very little can be said of the form and a better evaluation can be made of his second to Forever Blessed at Sandown early this month. A big drifter during the day before being clipped four points to 12/1 in the ring, Romeo's Bond tracked the leaders and though unsure at times, was largely proficient over his hurdles. The race was beginning to fall apart behind the leading trio when he was steady and close before slipping on landing at the penultimate hurdle. This cost him whatever of the little chance he had with Forever Blessed, but he was still able to grab a remote second at the post. Romeo's Bond comes into this contest with the lowest rating in the field; a mark which exceeds anything he has done over flat or hurdles to the best part of ten pounds. There is little in his profile to suggest he can get seriously involved in this contest.

Saint Riquier grc Ian Williams f3-1-0 (-) - j4-0-3 (123) 111 122
Le Havre (Montjeu){5-g}(0.60) 3/2 Fashion Mix 1st 3300m 3yo Conditions Hurdle, Cagnes-sur-Mer 2004
https://www.equidia.fr/chevaux/saint-riquier
Several former inmates of Mikel Delzangles have done well in juvenile hurdles with the likes of Ranjaan and Dispour contributing to a solid 27.78% winner to runner rate. While his higher rated exports often command six figures in public auction, Saint Riquier joined Ian Williams after getting knocked down for €33,000 at the Arqana Summer Sale. Well beaten at Fontainbleau on his sole outing at two when slow out of the stalls, he ran a nothing race on his February reappearance at Machecoul over 2350m in testing conditions. He returned after a four month break in a 2200m French bred's maiden contest at Erbray. Initially held up in touch, he moved into a more prominent position during the second circuit and while he did not completely understand the game, Saint Riquier did enough work in the straight to eventually win by a short neck. The runner-up, in receipt of three and a half kilos, is rated in the early sixties and the remaining form would give Saint Riquier a mark on the cusp of 70. Le Havre has had one winner from six in Britain and Ireland, while his winner to runner rate in France, where his progeny are headed by the useful Chaptal, is a solid 18.92%. There are few jumpers on the damline, although Fragrant Mix at 3/1 is a reasonably capable sire of jumpers. Saint Riquier's British/Hurdling debut came at Ludlow early in October and there was little confidence in the market. Starting the day at 10/3, he opened on course at 13/2 before drifting out to 10/1 at the off. Starting the race keenly but settling better before long, his hurdling left a fair bit to be desired. Stumbling slightly on landing at the first, he was tight at the third, steady and close over the fourth, slow over the next before rather missing the sixth. Notwithstanding, after initially racing in the rear, he made good headway along the back and despite getting baulked at the penultimate hurdle, was still in a challenging position on the run to the last. However, he skewed badly over the final flight and could only plug on at one pace to finish fourth behind Mister Allegro and Genuflex by just under six lengths. Saint Riquier was then seen at Huntingdon on Halloween where he was more solid in the market and sent off the 13/8 favourite. Held up in midfield and settling better in first-time cheekpieces, Saint Riquier also improved in the hurdling department. Unfazed by getting blocked on landing at the first, he jumped his hurdles well enough with his only errors being getting close to the fifth and skewing when slow at the next. Making headway to join the leaders at the top of the straight, he led briefly on the run between the final two and held a share of the lead at the last. However, while he ran gamely enough to the line, Alan King's Twilight Twist was able to pull out a decisive length with the front two pulling a long way clear. Ian Williams does not typically overface his juveniles at Cheltenham and indeed had the Fred Winter second in 2005. Nevertheless, this did not prevent his being sent off the 50/1 outsider in the Prestbury Hurdle. Tucked in just behind the leaders, Saint Riquier put in a solid round of jumping blemished only by a couple of insignificant errors. Though seemingly having only the one gear at the business end of the race, proving no match for Knight Salute, he was able to take advantage of the fading Magistrato to run into second in the dying strides. Three weeks later, Saint Riquier was made favourite to shed his maiden tag in a such named contest at Warwick. However, his jumping, while reasonable early on rather deteriorated over the last three hurdles. That said, though he had no trouble matching Graystone up to the back of the straight, and did finish twelve lenghts ahead of the remainder, he had no answers or excuses for the winners seven length superiority. Saint Riquier really should not end the season without a win, but while he should not be disgraced here, he will most likely find more than one too good. 

Saint Segal bg Jane Williams j1-1-0 (-) 117 109 
Saint des Saints (Ballingarry){9}(0.71) 1/0 Bal Celtique 3rd Prix Predicateur (L,57.0), Auteuil 2016
Like Forever Blessed, Saint Segal made his racecourse debut in a British juvenile hurdle. Unlike Forever Blessed, Saint Segal is a French bred whose first time strike rate as unraced juveniles stood at a still interesting 4.35% ahead of his Bangor debut. Costing €51,000 as a two-year-old, Saint Segal is certainly the more traditionally bred of the pair. Sire Saint des Saints has a winner to runner rate of 32.43% which includes the likes of Monmiral, Le Rocher and Fusil Raffles. Dam Bal Celtique finished third in a listed handicap at Auteuil and has already produced a pattern placed filly in Celtic Girl. The Williamses of George Nympton are also no strangers to running decent unraced juveniles with Me Voici and Reve de Sivola (first and third in this very contest) two leading examples. Making his debut at Bangor back in November, Saint Segal was sent off a fairly steady 3/1 favourite. Tracking the leader, he was shaken up to challenge three furlongs out before going into the lead under a drive a furlong from home; after which he was pushed out on the run-in to win by three cosy lengths. Slightly novicey over the first couple of hurdles, Saint Segal settled into a sound enough rhythm and while he clipped a few towards the end, there can be no real dissatisfaction with his jumping. The pace was not the quickest, but the time was still quite reasonable. However, though the form is not completely without substance, the runner-up failed to justify favouritism at Leicester next time and the third quite likely ran below his best. Notwithstanding, Saint Segal's career has started on a solid foundation and as the stable has produced two winners and three thirds in this race, a fair effort would not be unexpected.

Skycutter bg Philip Kirby f13-1-7 (89) 96 j2-2-0 (127) 120 123
Scissor Kick (Hurricane Run){17-b}(0.39) 2/1 Kyrov 1st Prix Cambaceres (G1), Auteuil 2021
Scissor Kick was a Group Three winning sprinter in Australia by a Caulfield Guineas winner in Redoute's Choice. The former was zero from four in this sphere, but the Danehill line is capable of producing sires of winning juveniles. Coming from the Danehill line is not the most pertinent element of Skycutter's pedigree as his granddam, along with being a sibling to three winnng jumpers including Brave Helios, has produced this season's champion three-year-old hurdler in Kyrov. Damsire Hurricane Run, whose record with juveniles is a positive one, gave more than a hint towards latent stamina in Skycutter's pedigree who was campaigned accordingly on the flat. Initially with Jo Hughes, Skycutter finished fourth over a mile in listed company at two before breaking his duck at the sixth time of asking in a ten furlong, heavy ground, Compiegne maiden at the end of October. After two respectable runs in the spring, Skycutter arrived at Phillip Kirby's with a rating of 88. Two neck defeats at Ripon and Newbury saw his mark creep up to 91 and while he finished down the field at Ascot and York, he bounced back to form with a good fourth in the November Handicap. His mark of 89 makes him much the highest rated flat recruit in the field, and second only to one in the British division thus far. Such a mark was sufficient in seeing him start odds-on for his hurdling debut at Wetherby where he faced one of Oliver Greenall's who was rated just a pound lower on the flat. Going straight into the lead, Skycutter had a tendency of wandering and while he was clever enough to correct a mistimed leap at the second, developed a habit of jumping to his right. Having things his own way up front, he was able to dictate a stop start tempo which worked much to his benefit and to the detriment of his rivals. Despite an unorthodox style of travelling and jumping, along with a bad error from his main rival, Skycutter was able to run out a convincing six and a half length winner. Skycutter's next port of call was an introductory hurdle at Musselburgh where he started the 1/2 favourite. He once again had his own way up front and went into the straight with a lead of over a dozen lengths. The runner-up was able to close to within a length at the half-furlong marker, but could make no further inroads from there and Skycutter did enough to win by two and twenty-nine lengths. Given how the race unfolded, it is difficult to get an accurate measure of the form's worth and a comparison of times with the handicap on the card is also tricky due to that race having an uneven tempo. Notwithstanding, it can be confidently said that Skycutter can jump well when going the right direction and is not without pace or class. There are reasons to suspect that he may have been flattered in some regards and if he jumps as he did at Wetherby then he will be in trouble. An unknown quantity with unquestionable ability and aptitude, but others have more substantial profiles. 

Tease And Seize bg Olly Murphy f7-0-2 (64) 67 j2-2-0 (-) 106 112 
Motivator (Anabaa){5-h}(1.27) 2/2 Silverlord 1st 2m Maiden Hurdle, Down Royal 2010
A maiden after seven starts on the flat for Rod Millman, Tease and Seize has already bettered his two handicap placings by making it two from two over hurdles. Joining Olly Murphy, a trainer with a good winner to runner rate and solid improvement rate, helped in his cause although there is also some credit in his pedigree. A cousin of winning hurdler Silverlord, Tease and Seize is also by a Motivator who has little issue getting winning juveniles as his rate of 34.21% attests. Five months after finishing fourth in a Salisbury handicap, Tease And Seize made his hurdles bow at Ludlow where he was just squeezed out of a three way battle for favouritism. Held up off a solid tempo, Tease and Seize jumped nicely  over the first six hurdles. Making his move forward towards the end of the back, he was a couple of lengths behind the lead at three out where he got in fairly close. Still on the bridle while taking a hold, he rather reached at two out but despite wandering, held a length's lead over the last whereafter he was pushed out for a cosy four length success. He returned at the start of December for a similar contest at Market Rasen where he was a solid 6/5 favourite. Racing in midfield under a keen hold, he posted another round of jumping which was sound in the early and middle parts. Making his move after turning into the straight, he comfortable got to the leaders at the penultimate flight where he was somewhat untidy. Shaken up on the run to the last, he jumped upsides his rivals and despite a slightly awkward jump, was then able to put distance between himself and his rivals, running on for another four length success. Tease And Seize has shown himself a capable juvenile and could improve further for the conditions. However, despite winning twice, the standard of form he has shown thus far leaves him more to find than most in this field. 

Strong prospects
1. Porticello
Reasonable prospects
2. Forever William
3. Rocky Man
4. Forever Blessed
Feasible prospects
5. Iroko
6. Magistrato
7. Saint Segal
8. Skycutter
Moderate prospects
9. Saint Riquier
10. Genuflex
11. Tease And Seize
Negligible prospects
12. Romeo's Bond

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Might have tomorrow off and go for a walk or something; apparently there's a world outside of horse racing with nature and stuff... So here's the preview for Wednesday's fillies' maiden at Doncaster. Enjoy!

DONCASTER - 29th DECEMBER - PREVIEW
Sprinter Sacre made his chasing debut at Doncaster on the 9th of December 2011, and the previous race was the first Fillies' Juvenile Hurdle to be held north of Fakenham. That contest, won by Dubawi Dancer, amounted to little form wise. Moved to the 29th of December the following year, the race was won by the useful Cockney Sparrow. Nevertheless, being a restricted maiden, the race has otherwise been a fairly moderate affair with the average winner's seasonal RPR being just 111.69; although the 2019 introduction of the venue's Listed Fillies' race hosted the following month has seen three participants collect some easy black type. This year's renewal looks customarily average with the form standard being set by one of just two flat winners in the line-up. A mostly flat, left-handed galloping venue, the average winning DIs at Doncaster 1.12 median, 1.34 mean, are just slightly lower than average. This would be in keeping of the good drainage at the South Yorkshire venue as supported by the 90.19% completion rate. The clear round rate of 96.99% is also a fair one although hurdling debutants can find the circuit trickier than usual. Odds-on favourites in juvenile hurdles have a better than average strike rate and all three such horses in this particular contest have obliged. Several of these can take a hold and a couple have led or raced prominently so there should be an honest enough gallop. The going is currently described as good to soft, soft in places and some rainy spells are anticipated in the meantime.

Cirrus chf Milton Harris f15-0-3 (65) 77 j2-0-1 (-) 68 67 
Starspangledbanner (Halling){5-e}(3.00) 0.5 Spiritual Art 1st 2m1f Mares' Maiden Hurdle, Newton Abbot 2011
Now a fifteen race maiden on the flat, Cirrus has failed to reach the frame in seven outings in that sphere since finishing third at Nottingham in early May, and has fared little better for Milton Harris. Leaving Richard Hannon for 15,000 guineas at the Tattersalls July sale, Cirrus had shown her best form when under a length third at the aforementioned Nottingham off 73, and on her final outing for her former handler when just over two lengths fifth of seven at Bath off the same mark; with both of these performances coming on good to soft ground. This factor, along with a feasible pedigree (being a Starspangledbanner half-sister and niece of winning hurdlers) gave some cause for optimism that she may do better over jumps. Making her hurdling debut at Fontwell at the beginning of October, Cirrus was weak in the market beforehand and started the race at 16/1. Held up in midfield, she hurdled decently overall for the most part and was still moving well enough on rounding the home turn. However, fears over her first-time tongue tie manifested as she folded very tamely before finishing a thirty-seven length last of three. A respiratory noise was reported after the race and a wind operation was conducted within the week. Given a good six weeks to recover, Cirrus went back to Fontwell while her yard was in white hot form. However, there was no confidence in the market and she jumped poorly without going a yard before finishing fifty-five lengths behind the winner. This lacklustre performance was more in keeping with a disenchantment about the game rather than a lack of fitness. Tongue tie and cheekpieces were applied for a spin on the flat at Kempton ten days ago, but she ran according to her 50/1 odds and hung right on her way to finishing over eleven lengths fifth of seven. Cirrus's very best flat form would not leave her without a chance in this field, but she has plenty to answer for with respect to her enthusiasm.

Dooby bf Sam Allwood b1-0-0 (-) 27
Pearl Secret (Duke Of Marmalade){16-c}(3.00) 3/2 Ruz Gwenn Ha Du 1st 3yo Conditions Hurdle, Nimes 2021
Juveniles who begin their careers in junior bumpers have a modest record when they go over hurdles. The winner to runner rate is a modest 5.15% while their first time strike rate stands at just 2.26%. Moreover, the record of those who recorded RPRs lower than 60 have just one win from two-hundred-and-eighty-five; which did not come first time out. Dooby who made her debut in a Wetherby bumper early this month, lost her position half a mile from home and finished tailed off. Both trainer and sire alike are zero from two with juvenile hurdlers, although the former has sent out two winners from three in the past fortnight. The dam won a bumper but never raced over hurdles and the closest winning jumper on the damline appears at 3/2. 

Fleeting Blue chf Tony Coyle f5-0-0 (43) 45 j1-0-0 (-) 60 75
French Navy (Arakan){20-c}(1.53) 2/1 Jauntyl 3rd 2m Maiden Hurdle, Chepstow 2009
The lowest rated of those from the flat, Fleeting Blue's last appearance in that sphere came when fourth of six in a poor Redcar claimer. Her hurdling debut came in a Wetherby maiden five weeks ago where she was sent off at 150/1. Racing keenly while held up in the rear, a long way off a bizarre pace, Fleeting Blue jumped reasonably save for missing the fourth and skewing at the next. She made some relative ground on the turn for home and though twenty-six lengths behind the third, did finish best of the rags. There may one day be a mark low enough for her to compete from, but she would be unlikely to make it twenty-seventh time lucky in this sphere for her trainer Tony Coyle.

Galah bf Milton Harris f12-1-5 (72) 83 j2-0-2 (113) 101 109
Australia (Invincible Spirit){14-c}(0.68) 2/1 Counsel 4th Summit Juvenile Hurdle (G2), Doncaster 2012
Ralph Beckett is amongst the more prolific suppliers of juvenile hurdlers to the division with fifty-five leaving Kimpton Down Stables to go hurdling since 2004/05. Fourteen of these have been winners, a healthy rate of 25.45%, and while just 25% improve for the switch the bulk of these do bring higher than average flat ratings. One such horse is Galah who finished her two-year-old season with a Thirsk nursery win to her name, and a rating of 81. Her second campaign saw her mark drop nine pounds and though she was not beaten far in four of her six outings in handicaps, a tendency to pull and hang right did compromise her efforts. Consequently, she changed hands for the relatively modest sum of 21,000 guineas at the Tattersalls Autumn sale to join a Milton Harris team that has been flying this season. Her pedigree is an encouraging one for the game as Australia and Invincible Spirit have solid records as sire and damsire respectively, with their descendants often maintaining their flat form over hurdles. Uncle Counsel was a useful juvenile hurdler who finished fourth in a Summit Hurdle while Cinders and Ashes (3/2) and Minella Rocco (4/2) also appear on the damline. Galah's hurdles bow came in a quite well contested introductory hurdle at Newcastle on the Fighting Fifth card. Starting at 14/1, she raced keenly while held up towards the rear of a tight and steady bunch. She held every chance at the distance but though she was quite readily left behind by the two experienced rivals, she fared best of the newcomers, finishing upwards of three lengths ahead of the remainder. Her round of jumping was lightly tarnished by slight, novicey errors but was satisfactory on balance with her only real mistake being an awkward jump three from home where her path was impeded by a rival. She was out again a fortnight later at Cheltenham where her starting price of 28/1 suggested she may be overfaced. Galah was still quite fresh racing in the rear, but the hood and tie (kept on here) did see her travel more comfortably. She made a couple of positions going down the hill and turned into the straight with a fighting chance. The leader was able to get first run and after another not-bad round of hurdling, Galah's steady jump at the last cost her a stride or two of momentum. Nevertheless, while the first and second were out of sight, the latter an easy winner at Fontwell on Boxing Day, she was able to plug on for an honest third ahead of better fancied rivals who, to some degree, met trouble in running. The expected pace and conditions are unlikely to hinder her prospects and even with a conservative reading of her form, Galah sets a clear standard both on the flat and over hurdles.

Olympe de Gouges bf David Pipe f2-0-0 (-) 63
Charming Thought (Raven's Pass){2-u}(2.43) 2/1 Demerara 1st 3300m 4yo Conditions Hurdle, Saint-Malo 2008
After finishing fifth of seven in an ordinary Chelmsford novice stakes last December on her sole start for John Gosden, Olympe de Gouges sold for 9,000 guineas at the Tattersalls February sale to join David Pipe. The only other to make this trip was the 82 rated Vincent's Forever who did little as a juvenile in 2016/17. Sire Charming Thought is zero from two as a sire and is unlikely to be a standard bearer of Oasis Dream in the division. Raven's Pass is still without a winner from six as a damsire although the damline does contain winning hurdlers Demerara (2/1) and Javado (2/2). Olympe de Gouges has made just one appearance for stable, finishing tailed off in a Wolverhampton maiden in October having never left the rear. While David Pipe can do well in the division, only Malangen (who won a seller) would eventually win for the yard having shown below-average form on the flat. 

Pump It Up chf Richard Spencer f12-1-3 (49) 59 j2-0-0 (86) 80 87 
Charming Thought (Pivotal){1-l}(2.08) 3/1 General Eliott 1st 2m½f Handicap Hurdle (100), Market Rasen 2011
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9EcjWd-O4jI
Awah, a place to stay, get your booty on the floor tonight, make my day... Though rated just forty-nine on the flat, Pump It Up was at least able to win in that sphere, landing a twelve furlong heavy ground handicap at Windsor off 46 back in August. Another representative of Charming Thought, the closest winning jumper on the damline is handicapper General Elliott at 3/1, while 1989 Kennel Gate winner Arden shows up at 4/1. Unfancied on her hurdling debut in a fillies' maiden at Fakenham in late October, Pump It Up started prominently but lost her place towards the end of the first circuit. One paced in midfield during the second lap, she plugged on for a forty-two length fourth, jumping reasonably if slightly awkward in the process. Her latest appearance came in another fillies' maiden at Leicester six weeks ago where she started at 28/1. Leading at a reasonable clip, she jumped well apart from clipping the fourth. Joined by her rivals towards the end of the back, she was outpaced by the market leaders at the top of the straight, plugging on to finish a fourteen length fourth of seven. This probably marked a new career best for Pump It Up although the form has been done no favours by the first three who were each outclassed next time. An honest filly who can jump well, Pump It Up could be competitive off her mark of 86, although that would not be enough to give her a winning chance here. 

Ramure bf Stuart Edmunds j6-0-2 (106) 94 100 
Maresca Sorrento (Blue Bresil){9-c}(0.33) 2/1 Ocean's Wind 1st 3900m 4yH Saint Malo 2016
https://www.equidia.fr/chevaux/ramure
Initially with Patrice Lenogue in France, Ramure failed to trouble a judge but jumped reasonably well in three outings and probably warranted a mark in the mid-nineties in the process. Ahead of her stable/British introduction at Fontwell in early September, Ramure was a drifter during the day, but was steady enough in the ring to be sent off the 2/1 second favourite. Ridden with more patience than she had been in France, she made smooth headway along the back and travelled well into a challenging position entering the straight where she traded at 1.54 in-running. Managing to get within a length of the lead jumping the penultimate flight, she was keeping tabs on The Yellow Mini all the way to the last before said horse jumped in front of her on landing. This forced Ramure to reorganise herself and her inexperience showed when coming under pressure as she wandered, giving the impetus to the winner. Sensibly, she was not given a hard time from there by Ciaran Gethings. She was not quite so smooth over Fontwell's hurdles, making a mistake at the second, wandered approaching the third and seventh and got very close to the sixth due largely to a lapse in concentration. Ramure's second British outing came at Sedgefield where she was sent off 6/5 favourite. Initially racing keenly while tracking the leaders, she moved into the lead going out onto the second circuit and was still travelling well enough when going over the penultimate flight with a two length advantage. However, Knight Salute cruised past her on the run to the last where her skewing and stumbling on landing ended any hopes of her staging a comeback. This was not her only error as she was also steady when clipping the fourth and untidy when getting in close to the next, but it was an improvement on her Fontwell round and the form has since been boosted by the winner and the fourth placed We Still Believe; who has since finished third at Wetherby and second at Musselburgh. Ramure's latest outing, coming in a fillies' maiden at Fakenham, was something of a forgettable disaster. Gaining a pyrrhic victory in a ruinous early battle for the lead, Ramure was joined by the end of the first circuit and while she was able to stay prominent until the first in the back, the damage had been done and she weakened quickly thereafter before pulling up at the last. Such a frenetic display saw her put in a clumsy round of jumping and rather unsurprisingly, she was reported to have bled from the nose. A two month break is long enough for her to have recovered from her malady and if she has is feeling no ill effects from the experience, she has the form to run well for a trainer whose sole runner in this contest finished third in 2016. 

Simply Red chf Oliver Greenalll b2-0-0 (-) 57 j1-0-0 (-) 68 75
Proconsul (Motivator){22-d}(0.76) 2/1 Teela 4th Juvenile Maiden Hurdle, Sedgefield 2010
Another to have started her career in junior bumpers, Simply Red was beaten thirty-four lengths at both Market Rasen in October, and Aintree in November. Her fourth dam produced a winning novice hurdler in Resist The Force, but closer relatives achieved very little over jumps and sire Proconsul has yet to have any winners of any description. Simply Red made her hurdling debut at Market Rasen early this month where she started at 100/1. Held up in the rear, making a few minor errors, she never remotely threatened to get involved although she did pass a few beaten horses in the straight to finish a twenty-three length fourth. The form looked quite modest beforehand and has been done few favours by those who have been out since. 

Tiki Fire bf Neil King f7-0-3 (64) 70 j2-0-0 (-) 90 90 
Awtaad (Big Shuffle){1-h}(1.46) 3/2 Dictum 1st 2m3f Novices' Chase, Haydock 2007
Initially with Karl Burke, Tiki Fire placed twice as a two-year-old at Haydock and Newcastle and would largely hold her form on four outings this term without troubling the judge. Selling for 10,000 guineas at the Tattersalls August Sale, she joined a Neil King yard with healthy winner to runner and improvement rates of 31.25% and 54.05% respectively. Sire Awtaad is another first crop sire, but while the Cape Cross line does get juveniles, Awtaad himself is not the tallest, was untried beyond a mile and his three runners to date have achieved little. Tiki Fire is quite tenuously related to Don Cossack (4/3) though the decent chaser Dictum is a slightly closer relative at 3/2. Making her hurdling debut in the same Fakenham contest as Pump It Up and Ramure, Tiki Fire was quite weak in the market. Racing in a first time hood, she never left the rear of the field and made a couple of serious blunders before finishing a tailed off last. With such a lamentable effort along with the yard's juveniles rarely firing first time, better could have been anticipated for her next outing which came at Warwick earlier this month. Starting at 100/1, Tiki Fire was once again waited with, hopping over the first and doing so again when landing atop the second. She was tight at the third but was better at the next and was in the process of making decent headway when briefly losing her footing on landing at the fifth. Though she picked up the bit soon enough, her leaving her hind legs in the sixth and stumbling badly cost her valuable ground and momentum. Tiki Fire did her best to get back within shouting distance but the race was gone by the time she entered the straight and after being slow away from two out, would merely plug on to finish fourth. Her effort was better than the bare result suggests and while she wont want it too soft (was withdrawn from an engagement at Aintree) and has something to find with Galah, she has less to prove than Ramure and can emerge as the main danger.

tl;dr
Cirrus - Peak flat form is strong in the context of this field profile is very feasible for hurdling career. However, while Fontwell debut was not without promise, her return to that venue raised a lot of questions and a recent flat spin did nothing to allay misgivings.

Dooby - Recruits from junior bumpers have modest record and sole outing at Wetherby was a modest performance. Nothing in profile to suggest switch to hurdles will being about sufficient improvement.

Fleeting Blue - Lowest rated on flat and 150/1 for hurdles bow. Jumped reasonably and made some ground from rear but still well beaten and plenty to find.

Galah - Best of these on the flat and bred to make a decent juvenile hurdler. Promising third in much better company at Newcastle and Cheltenham and sets a clear standard. 

Olympe de Gouges - Left John Gosden for moderate fee after a moderate sole performance. Related to winners but not the most enticing pedigree and failed to show at Wolverhampton in October. Yard can do well but generally with more promising sorts.

Pump It Up - Won at low level on flat and has jumped quite well over hurdles. Honest filly who should stay, although while she would be competitive off her mark, has something to find here.

Ramure - Ex French maiden hurdler who placed on first two British outings. Latest effort at Fakenham, where she bled, was a disaster. Has the ability to go well but questions to answer.

Simply Red - Slightly less modest in bumpers than Dooby but still showed nothing of value in context of this race. Minor errors and passed beaten horses at Market Rasen but form still leaves her short.

Tiki Fire - Consistent on the flat at her own level for Karl Burke. Joined good yard for juvenile hurdling campaign. Forgettable debut at Fakenham but shaped with promise at Warwick. Yet to reach Galah's standard but has more substantial profile than most.

Strong prospects
1. Galah
Reasonable prospects
2. Tiki Fire
3. Ramure
Feasible/Moderate prospects
4. Pump It Up
5. Cirrus
6. Olympe de Gouges
Negligible prospects
7. Fleeting Blue
8. Simply Red
9. Dooby

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FONTWELL - 30th DECEMBER - PREVIEW
Since the 2004/05 season, the likes of Grumeti, Dolos, Sanctuaire, Penzance and Grand Sancy have competed around Taunton during their juvenile campaigns. However, when isolating honest to goodness juvenile hurdles at the venue, the quality of participant is considerably more humble. The average winner's seasonal RPR stands at just 109.16 and from the four runnings of this particular contest, only Night Edition (fourth in 2019) achieved anything of note by finishing second in the Finesse and the Fred Winter. This season's renewal, however, could prove to be quite exceptional. Though it would be careless to suggest that the field is littered with festival horses in waiting, it carries considerably more quality and depth than the standard Taunton juvenile and it could well be the best juvenile contested at the Somerset venue. Graystone sets a good standard on British form while Brainstorm is an enigmatic French winner with a promising profile but has yet to deliver. The newcomers are headed by Kingston Hill's first good looking offspring to go jumping in the apparently well-regarded Irish Hill, along with a French flat winner with respectable form. Alan King, Milton Harris and Olly Murphy are also represented by debutants who would be interesting in an ordinary contest. 

A sharp, right handed venue, Taunton's winning DIs (after the removal of outliers) of 1.18 median, 1.32 mean are just on the lower side of average, with the figures broadly matching those of the average participant. The clear round rate of 95.49% is half a point lower than standard with the completion rate at a comparable level. Newcomers have a lower strike rate than experienced runners at the venue. However, most juveniles participate at Taunton during the spring and in this particular contest, of which there have been four runnings, three were taken by a horses running over British hurdles for the first time; though two had been placed in France with the third having ran in that country on the flat. Three previous winners have competed in the race, with two placing and the other falling with every chance. Graystone is a likely pacesetter but as others have raced prominently, the pace should be a solid and honest one. The going is currently good to soft, soft in places and light rain is expected on the morning of the race.

Brainstorm bg Sophie Leech j4-1-1 (122) 101 106
No Risk At All (Hawk Wing){12-g}(1.00) 2/1 Top Notch 1st 1965 Chase (G2), Ascot 2017
https://www.equidia.fr/chevaux/brainstorm-2
Guillaume Macaire has, this century, won the Prix Rush with Robin des Champs, Balko, Esmondo and Choeur du Nord, while Master Dino, Goliath du Berlais and Twist Magic are just a few of the talents also introduced in the contest. His sole representative this season was Brainstorm – a half-brother to Yes Indeed and Never Adapt, and a nephew of the sadly passed Top Notch. Sent off the third favourite, Brainstorm was fairly keen in the early stages, but soon settled into a nice rhythm in the front and jumped and travelled kindly. That is until he got to the seventh. The camera angle was not the best, but he appeared to hit it at an incorrect stride, reach for the hurdle and blunder terribly. This error cost him the lead and most likely any chance in the contest. Reaching again at the next, he faded through the field on the turn for home, jumped big at two out and steady at the last. Sensibly allowed to coast home in his own time from some way out, Brainstorm appeared to be the horse to take out of the contest. However, his next appearance came in a Compiègne claimer in which he was finished a six length third before being sold for €16,777. He was next seen in another claimer at Fontainebleau where, held up, he jumped safely but without any confidence. Nevertheless, he moved easily into the race approaching the last from where, he ran out a fairly comfortable two-and-a-half length winner ahead of a Kentaway who has since landed a couple of claimers at Auteuil. Afterwards, he was sold again for €16,777 of James Finch’s money, joining Sophie Leech in the process. Brainstorm returned from a wind operation and a summer break in a valuable Auteuil handicap some fifteen weeks ago. However, he was struggling from a long way out before pulling up along the back straight. Sophie Leech does have a fair winner to runner rate of 23.53% with British juveniles, though none have scored first time out. Brainstorm had the profile and, for a moment on his debut, the prowess to be a good recruit to the sphere. However, since blundering on his debut, his performances can be described as enigmatic at best and he has plenty of questions to answer.

Graystone rgg Lucy Wadham f11-3-3 (74) 80 j3-1-2 (124) 117 119
Dark Angel (Distorted Humor){8-k}(3.00) No jumps relatives
Costing 50,000 guineas at the Craven Breeze-up at two-years-old, Graystone is a son of Dark Angel out of a half-sister to a Grade 1 winning American filly. Though precociously bred, Graystone's first piece of flat form came when winning on his first outing at three in a seven furlong Yarmouth handicap off 66. From there, he would mostly perform consistently and maintain steady improvement; reaching a new level when stepped up to ten furlongs. Failing by a head to win a soft ground Beverley handicap on his penultimate flat outing, he made amends on his final start in that sphere when winning his third race at Kempton off 71. Graystone had a tendency to race freely on the flat and while Dark Angel gets winning juveniles. his record is only fair. Furthermore, given the American pedigree, there are no jumpers on the damline until one goes back eleven dams and forward seven to find Beau Trempoli. Nevertheless, Lucy Wadham does very well with her juvenile hurdlers (thirteen winners from twenty-seven prior to Graystone) and with a BHA mark in the eighty-second percentile of flat rated recruits, Graystone went off the 5/1 second favourite for his hurdles bow in a useful looking Warwick contest in early November. Setting off in a prominent position, he skewed over the first and became lit up after getting close to the second. He was alright when ridden into the third but a big and skewed jump at the fourth cost him the lead and a couple of places. Graystone was slow again over the next two and while he regained the lead by the time they reached the home straight, was outjumped by the winner at the penultimate flight. His round was capped off by a very awkward leap at the last, but while the winner had flown, he got the better of the third by three lengths. The form, which looked reasonable at the time, has since been given some major boosts. In This World has not been out since but his victim in an  AQPS bumper, Fil Dor, has emerged as the deserved favourite for the Triumph after some emphatic performances. Meanwhile, third placed Interne de Sivola won at Cheltenham ahead of two subsequent winners. With this in mind, Graystone's second appearance over hurdles, coming in an all aged maiden at Huntingdon, can only be regarded as disappointing; as per his starting price of 1/2. Held up in the rear of midfield, he was already shaken up six furlongs from home and while he made some headway into contention towards the end of the back, he had no extra to give and would merely plug on into third on the run-in. His jumping also left plenty to be desired and the form has been besmirched by the clear winner, who pulled up next time, and the fourth, who was one length behind and has since been well beaten in a maiden and a selling handicap. Nevertheless, a return to Warwick brought about a return to winning ways as Graystone, sent off an unsteady 11/4 second favourite, was able to register his first win over hurdles. Reverting to a front-running role while taking a keen grip, Graystone was always travelling well within himself and had all but one of his rivals toiling on entering the straight. He was still given to making careless mistakes but apart from clambering over the last, where he had the race in safe keeping, there was nothing alarming about his aptitude and he ran out a comfortable seven length winner. The runner-up was predictably outclassed at Chepstow next time, but the fourth did run creditably at Doncaster. Graystone's sets a clear standard on his hurdles form and though some newcomers could present a solid test of his ability under a penalty, there is still scope for further improvement and front running can be advantageous around Taunton. 

Bryanwood bg Bernard Llewellyn f7-0-1 (60) 67 j1-0-0 (-) 26 26 
Garswood (Acclamation){9-h}(1.00) 3/1 Atamane 2nd Grand Prix d'Automne (G1), Auteuil 2008 
No better than a fair and rather inconsistent maiden on the flat for Michael Dods, whose record as a supplier of juveniles is a respectable one, Bryanwood joined Bernard Llewellyn after fetching 8,000 guineas at the Tattersalls Autumn Sale. His granddam is a half sister to classy French staying hurdler Ataman while Adjali also appears on the damline at 3/3. However, Garswood is still without a winning juvenile from six and there was little generous about Bryanwood's 66/1 starting price on his Newbury hurdles debut a fortnight ago. Always towards the rear, he had his vision impeded when tripping over the first, but jumped reasonably from there apart from being slow away from the sixth. Nevertheless, he still finished a tailed off last of nine and would have a huge amount to find in this company. 

Chadlington Lad bg Ben Pauling f2-0-0 (-) 64
Estidhkaar (Dubai Destination){3-g}(1.50) 0.5 House Island 2nd Winter Novices' Hurdle (G2), Sandown 2019
Making his racecourse debut in the middle of July, Chadlington Lad beat just one of his nine rivals home but was still within six lengths of the winner and five subsequent scorers. The second of his two flat outings came at Newcastle two months later where he finished fourth of eight ahead of a couple of winners, edging left in the process. He has since left Ben Haslam to join a Ben Pauling yard which has saddled a reasonable three winning juveniles from fourteen; including one doing so first-time. Chadlington Lad is a half-brother to the grade two placed novice House Island while the useful Davoski is out of his third dam. However, Estidhkaar, like four of the other five sons of Dark Angel, has yet to produce a winning juvenile. 

Chipping Away bg Olly Murphy f4-0-2 (62) 61
Gutaifan (Galileo){9-c}(0.37) 2/1 Adajal 1st 2m1f Handicap Chase (119), Cork 2010
After finishing towards the rear in a mid-April Newmarket maiden, Chipping Away closed the month with a three length second in an eleven furlong Southwell novice stakes. A month later over an extra furlong, he finished a two length third at Leicester behind a couple of horses now rated in the seventies. Chipping Away had one more outing on the flat, beaten twenty-five lengths in a Pontefract handicap six months ago. Formerly with Adrian Paul Keatley, whose former inmates are one winner from two in the sphere, Chipping Away joins an Olly Murphy yard with a decent winner to runner rate of 25.93% and a respectable first-time rate of 14.81%. Low flat ratings are no great hinderance for the stable either with a record of two winners from five for those rated below 65. Gutaifan, another son of Dark Angel, has had little success in the sphere and though the granddam produced a winning chaser, she also have five maiden jumpers to her name. Though not the most abject profile, there are others with more substantial attributes. 

Clarendon Cross bg Sue Gardner f11-0-2 (59) 81 j1-0-0 (-) 52 50 
New Approach (Exceed And Excel){26}(0.82) 2/1 Jumping Cats 1st 2m4f Novices' Handicap Hurdle (101), Fakenham 2021
Third on his two-year-old debut in a June Haydock maiden, Clarendon Cross ran without disgrace when eighth of nine in the Chesham Stakes for Richard Hannon. Following one more run at two, he finished a creditable sixth off 82 at Newbury on his reappearance. However, his subsequent decline in form was an exponential one and he finished a tailed off last on his final three outings with neither a gelding operation nor the application of blinkers or tongue tie arresting the slide. Sold for just £1,800 at the Goffs Autumn Sale, he joined a Sue Gardner yard that has yet to taste success in the sphere. Sire New Approach has a strong record in the sphere, the dam is a sister to two winning jumpers while also being a niece of Champion Hurdler Sublimity. Nevertheless, Clarendon Cross started at 150/1 for her jumping bow at Fontwell three weeks ago and ran accordingly. Held up towards the rear, he landed sharply at the second, pecked at the fifth, was very awkward at the sixth before finishing tailed off and beating just one home. With his initial flat promise and interesting pedigree, Clarendon Cross might one day develop into a low-grade handicapper but would have too much on his plate here. 

Escobedo bc Milton Harris f10-0-2 (63) 76
Nathaniel (Lawman){6-e}(0.83) 3/2 Sephton 7th Juvenile Hurdle, Huntingdon 2019
Third at Ascot on his two-year-old debut and second in a Windsor handicap off 72 on his reappearance at the end of May, Escobedo has shown he can at least go well fresh. Those were his two best efforts on the flat for Richard Hannon and while he was still consistent for the most part, his final outing came when a beaten 5/4 favourite in a ten furlong Lingfield claimer. There is reason to suggest he may do better with a trip based on sirelines and his rallying after being outpaced on sole try over twelve furlongs. Selling for 18,000 guineas at the Tattersalls Autumn sale, he joined a Milton Harris who has had two winning juveniles from the three bought out of the Hannon yard. Sire Nathaniel has a fine record with juvenile hurdlers with Zanahiyr, Burning Victory and Navajo Pass amongst the ten winners from thirty; the progeny also boasting a respectable improvement rate of 53.33%. Jumpers are sparse on the immediate damline, although Happygolucky (4/3) and Elusive Dream (5/2) do appear further back. Escobedo has been set an unexpectedly tough task first time, but the yard's juveniles returned to the winners' enclosure with Galah at Doncaster and while there will be easier opportunities, he can run with credit here.

Girandole bg Mark Gillard f3-0-1 (50) 49 j1-0-1 (-) 85 90
No Nay Never (Whipper){4-r}(1.67) 3/1 Honoured 3rd 2m½f Novices' Hurdle, Bangor 2011
Beginning his flat career in July, Girandole was beaten no less than twenty-four lengths and started no shorter than 150/1 in three outings. By No Nay Never, winless from twenty starts with an improvement rate of 16.67% in the field, the closest hurdler on the damline with form is the novice placed Honoured at 3/1. Mark Gillard has a 12.5% winner to runner rate in the sphere, yet such was the desperate quality of the field, Girandole was not only able to start at 20/1 for his hurdling debut at Exeter, but also finish second. Held up in the rear off a slow pace, Girandole had just one behind turning for home but was able to travel strongly into a prominent position by the time they reached three out. He was never reaching the winner, who wandered alone in front, but managed to hold on to third from another outsider. Despite the low quality of the contest, Girandole's performance marked a new career best effort and further progression is not unfeasible. Notwithstanding, he would still need to improve by well over a stone to get involved here.

Irish Hill grg Paul Nicholls f4-2-1 (38.0/83.6) 80
Kingston Hill (Monsun){14-a}(0.47) 2/1 Idjen 1st 3800m Conditions Hurdle, Wissembourg 2008
https://www.equidia.fr/chevaux/irish-hill
The sadly departed Jeremy and Mastercraftsman, each from the Danehill Dancer line, have been two of the most successful sires of juveniles in recent years despite their Dosage Indexes being 1.82. Two other sons, Fast Company and Choisir, have improvement rates of 65% and 73% despite having DIs of 2.06 and 2.60 respectively. Indeed, the former is already developing a nice record as a grandsire of juveniles with Olympic Glory and Starspangledbanner building positive records for themselves. Kingston Hill, a St Leger winning son of Mastercraftsman out of a half-sister to the useful hurdler Lord Jim, has a DI of just 0.90 and is a smidge taller than leading juvenile sire Authorized. Naturally, Kingston Hill makes for a most intriguing addition to the ranks of jumps stallions which explains why he was transferred from Coolmore to the operation’s National Hunt base at Castle Hyde Stud. His first crop did not achieve a great deal due to a lack of firepower. However, recent Paul Nicholls recruit Irish Hill is a couple of stones superior to the other Kingston Hills seen in the division thus far. Starting his career with Peter Schiergen, whose exports to the juvenile division have a winner to runner rate of 20.83%, not including the useful maidens Landin and the Paul Nicholls trained Ecco, and an improvement rate of 58.33%. Though previously based in Germany, Irish Hill has raced exclusively in France and made his debut at La Crouse Laroche over 2,500m when third to subsequent Groupe III runner-up Tides Of War in April. He got off the mark later that month when winning a 2400m maiden at Lyon on good to soft ground by three quarters of a length. Irish Hill raced lazily when well beaten at Nantes in June, but regained the winning thread towards the end of July on his final appearance in France at Longchamp. Stepping up to 2,800m, he travelled on the good ground with much more vibrancy while tracking the leader, and though his rival was a tough nut to crack, Irish Hill was able to get his head in front inside the final half-furlong before scoring by a length and a quarter. The form has a solid look to it with four last time out winners in behind, the runner-up was a 72.6 rated filly in receipt of four and a half kilos, and the third won a quinte handicap next time out. Paul Nicholls already has a few French recruits with hurdling form out this season including winners Magistrato and Iceo. Nevertheless, his continental flat imports also have a strong record with 57.89% of them winning as juveniles including the likes of Zarkandar, Pierrot Lunaire and Zubayr. The damline, being of a predominantly Teutonic nature, does not have much in the way of famous hurdlers but there are still several who have won in the sphere including Idjen (2/1), Imago (3/1), Interpret (3/2) and Iligan (4/1). Subject of a flattering report from Tom Malone, Irish Hill has ample class and stamina to make an impact in the sphere. Paul Nicholls has a solid 20.59% first-time strike rate with his continental recruits and sent out Iceo to make a winning debut at Kempton ahead of landing an across the card treble on Wednesday. His strike-rate with juveniles at Taunton is an outstanding 38.78% and along with unleashing Sanctuaire, Pearl Swan, Dildar and Tulin at the venue over the years, he also introduced another import in the useful Friend Or Foe to make a winning British debut in this contest in 2018. Though the standard is a strong one for the course, and the yard's juveniles improve even further from their first outings, Irish Hill's profile is a most substantial one and he could very easily wind up being an early flag bearer for his potentially exciting sire.

Mind Hunter bg Bernard Llewellyn f4-0-1 (73) 77 j1-0-0 (-) 79 83
Gleneagles (Oasis Dream){1-l}(0.50) 4/1 King In Waiting 2nd Prelude Handicap Hurdle (128), Market Rasen 2011
Bernard Llewellyn has a solid winner to runner rate of 20.69% in the sphere despite acquiring most of his recruits for four digit sums. Mind Hunter, who finished a pound second in a Lingfield maiden to a now 86 rated filly, left Richard Hannon at the Tattersalls August Sale for 26,000 guineas; the most his new handler has spent on a juvenile. However, he failed to match that form in two races on the flat for the Llewellyn team, beaten upwards of a dozen lengths at Chester and Wolverhampton during the autumn. Sire Gleneagles has a fair 18.18% winner to runner rate in the sphere, but damsire Oasis Dream has significantly lower figures and one has to go to the fourth dam before finding winning jumpers. An easy 40/1 shot for his hurdling debut in a decent Newbury contest a fortnight ago, Mind Hunter raced in midfield and jumped left (not right as reported) on occasions. He lost his position once reaching the straight and jumped slowly before finishing well beaten. Better might be expected with experience, but his profile lacks substance and there was not enough in his debut to suggest he might get involved here.

Mothill bg Neil Mulholland f4-1-1 (39,0-85.8) 74
Golden Horn (Dansili){23}(0.69) 3/1 Moon Indigo 1st 2m3½f Novices' Chase, Wetherby 2011
https://www.equidia.fr/chevaux/mothill
Another French flat recruit set to make his hurdling debut here is Mothill. He started his career with Jean-Claude Rouget, whose exports have a 35% winner to runner rate in the discipline and include such talents as Petite Parisienne, Kazlian and Baradari. These each fetched six digits at auction however and given that many of his exports will have lofty marks and expectations, the modest improvement rate of 17.14% is unsurprising. Mothill's debut came in a 2000m newcomers' race at Pau in late January. Sent off the even money favourite, he raced in touch on the outer and after hitting the front at the distance, was pushed out to win by four cosy lengths. Though the immediate impressions of newcomer races are subject to plenty of reappraisals, the second and fourth are seventy-ish rated animals. He was unable to justify favouritism next time when finishing ten lengths fourth in a 2100m Toulouse contest on soft ground in March. Mothill did return to form the following month at La Teste de Buch when second over 2400m in a similar contest on similar ground. Racing prominently once again, he saw off the long time leader turning for home but could not repel the challenge of Qaiser, plugging on at one pace for a length and a quarter second. Qaiser would land a hat-trick next time before finishing the season with a 90s rating while the third ended on 83 with the trio six lengths clear of the rest. Mothill's latest outing came over the same trip but on good ground at Bordeaux towards the end of May. While he tracked the leaders for much of the contest, he was tapped for toe three furlong from home and could only manage a one paced, four-and-a-half length fifth. He then made up part of the Shadwell dispersal in the Tattersalls August sale where he was knocked down for an arguably modest 18,000 guineas to join Neil Mulholland. The master of Conkwell Grange has a respectable winner to runner rate of 23.68%, and a laudable improvement rate of 59.09% with juvenile hurdlers. His first-time strike rate is also decent at 16.67%, although he is currently winless from seven overall at Taunton. Golden Horn has one winner from four in the division but while Dansili has a good record as a sire, he is less prolific as a damsire. From the family of Honolulu, Cerulean Sky and Moonstone, jumpers are not the goal on the distaff side although cousin Royal Bench did place in pattern company in America while the fairly useful Moon Indigo comes from the third dam. Mothill has enough about his profile to suggest he can make a hurdler and his class, stamina and ability to handle soft can make him a decent recruit. Unless there is anything more to his low price tag than his being quite inconspicuous at the sales, there is little reason why Mothill can not give a good account of himself here. 

Professor Calculus bg Nigel Hawke f6-0-1 (63) 66 
Twilight Son (Alhaarth){4-i}(1.40) 0.5 Royal Roslea 2nd 2m4½f Handicap Hurdle (85), Sligo 2017
Presumably named after a chair at the University of Science, Professor Calculus is the fourth former inmate of Richard Hannon's in this line-up. Following his debut at Newbury in mid-April, Professor Calculus finished a three length third in a seven furlong Salisbury novice stakes. The runner-up would win next time, but the form has otherwise amounted to little since and this would be the only time Professor Calculus finished within a dozen lengths of the winner. His six race tenure on the flat ended with his finishing last in a Leicester handicap five months ago and his latest BHA rating of 63 is only feasible from his Salisbury third. He joined Nigel Hawke for £5,000 at the Tattersalls Ascot Sale in November and though his new handler has a solid winner to runner rate of 20.97%, this figure drops to 10% when those formerly with Jim Bolger are removed. Furthermore, his first-time strike rate stands at 4.92% and although he has had two winning juveniles at Taunton, one came in an end-of-season mares' novice, and the other in a class 5 handicap. Twilight Son has had a winner from two in the sphere thus far, and along with being a half-brother to a placed handicapper, Waxies Dargle (3/3) and Way Back Home (3/4) also descend from the third dam. However, it is difficult to see Professor Calculus being ready first time. 

Shielded bg Nigel Hawke f6-0-2 (69) 73 j1-0-0 (-) 0 0
Buratino (Shamardal){3-o}(1.40) 2/1 Shebiyr 1st 3900m Claiming Hurdle, Cagnes-Sur-Mer 2009
A stablemate of Professor Calculus, Shielded did cost near twice the amount of the former and does have more than one piece of flat form to his name. Starting with Simon & Ed Crisford, Shielded finished third in a Wolverhampton on his second start at two, and in first-time visor, was denied a ten furlong Brighton handicap off 68 by a short head on his penultimate spin on the flat. A lacklustre showing at Kempton was followed by a 9,000 guinea sale at Tattersalls in the autumn. Prior to his hurdling bow at Catterick two weeks ago, sire Buratino was two from four with his first crop of hurdlers. The damline also features a few winners in Shebiyr (2/1), Shemdani (3/1), Shemshal (3/2) and Rawnaq (5/4). Nevertheless, Shielded drifted from a morning 12/1 to 50/1 at the off and though he started the race in midfield, his taking a hold and jumping overly big saw him perpetually losing ground along the back before he was pulled up after two out. 

The Hood bg Alan King f5-0-0 (65) 73 
Invincible Spirit (Red Ransom){14-c}(2.00) 0.5 Coltor 5th Fred Winter Handicap Hurdle (G3,127), Cheltenham 2020
Alan King is consistently one of the finest trainers of juvenile hurdlers in the country, as his winner runner rate of 47.79% and improvement rate of 53.55% will attest. He also has a 33.33% strike rate at Taunton where he has saddled Grumeti, Penzance and Blacko to make winning debuts; the latter winning this race in 2019. However, the Blacko was an ex-French hurdler and the former pair were each rated in the eighties on the flat. This is not to say he does not win with lower rated flat horses as his winner to runner rate of those rated lower than 50 is still a very good 41.66%; although only two of these achieved RPRs exceeding 112 which is likely to be a bare minimum requirement for this contest in which he unleashes the 65 rated, five race maiden, The Hood. Finishing an eight length seventh of eleven at Newbury in August 2020, he did exactly the same over ten furlongs at Nottingham on his return this April where the subsequent form of those ahead of him has been significantly better than of those in behind. Seventh again but beaten further at Salisbury and Leicester, he ran close to his best when last seen in a Newbury handicap five months ago. Establishing himself as one who races keenly, a first time hood did not see him settle much better. Nevertheless, he was able to make eyecatching headway along the straight although his effort petered out in the last half-furlong as he finished just over two lengths behind the winner in fourth. The Hood's pedigree is quite the curate's egg and the distaff portion is very good. Half-brother Coltor was a useful winning juvenile last term who placed fifth in the Fred Winter, cousin Limini won and placed at the Cheltenham Festival while the third dam produced pattern class juvenile Call My Guest as well as the useful jumps sire Overbury. However, although sire Invincible Spirit can produce jumpers, his record with juveniles is poor as he has had just one winning juvenile from sixteen; herself boasting a career best RPR of 95. While the trainer and damline are obvious sources of interest, The Hood rather lacks the overall class and the sirelines to be particularly threatening in this contest.

tl;dr
Brainstorm - Fantastic pedigree and was Guillaume Macaire's chosen runner for a newcomers race he has won with top horses. Looked as good as his profile for the first six flights but has been of a questionable disposition ever since. Could be a useful addition to British ranks but his pulling up on first outing since a wind operation raises doubts. 

Graystone - Strongest domestic flat form in this field and with yard that does well with juvenile hurdlers. Debut third at Warwick looking very good in hindsight and atoned for disappointing Huntingdon run when winning on return to Warwick. Can race keenly and prone to careless mistakes but sets the standard on hurdles form and setting the pace could see him to good effect.

Bryanwood - Inconsistent and ordinary maiden on flat. Interesting damline but sire less encouraging. Unfancied when well beaten at Newbury fortnight ago.

Chadlington Lad - Lightly raced with hints of promise for Ben Haslam. Trainer has had a winning debutant in the sphere and damline is credible but sire yet to prove himself in sphere and others have more substantial profiles.

Chipping Away - Bits and pieces of form for Adrian Paul Keatley and has joined a good yard. Mixed pedigree and no form since May. Not the worst recruit but unlikely to factor here.

Clarendon Cross - Tried at Royal Ascot at two for Richard Hannon but dramatic decline during three-year-old campaign. Interesting pedigree but unfancied when tailed off on jumps bow at Fontwell three weeks ago.

Escobedo - Fair maiden for Richard Hannon who can go well fresh. Could do better with trip and sire has strong record in sphere. Joins trainer doing very well this term and has had success with ex-Hannon horses. Can run with credit but tough task first time.

Girandole - Achieved very little on flat and pedigree lacks inspiration. Managed to finish second in hurdles debut at Exeter but that was a poor race. Could have future over hurdles but needs to find considerable improvement here.

Irish Hill - Strongest flat form in field courtesy of French efforts where he shaped as though new career would suit. First proper offspring of a potentially fascinating jumps sire. Has joined leading yard with that has introduced very good horses to win first time at this venue. 

Mind Hunter - Fairly useful maiden for Richard Hannon and the most expensive juvenile for yard that does well in sphere with limited resources. Jumped left on sole hurdles outing a fortnight ago and much to prove short term.

Mothill - Close to Irish Hill in terms of ability for Jean-Claude Rouget yet sold arguably for cheap price at August sale. Feasible pedigree and joins capable yard. Can give good account.

Professor Calculus - Fair maiden for Richard Hannon sold inexpensively in November. Yard can do well in sphere but with different type and is not known for first-time winners.

Shielded - Stablemate of Professor Calculus. Better flat form but ran no kind of race on hurdling debut at Catterick.

The Hood - Represents top yard that can do well with lower rated flat horses, but not especially so at this level. Strong damline but weak sire. Races keenly but close to best when last seen - although this would still leave him short.  

Strong prospects
1. Irish Hill
Reasonable prospects
2. Graystone
3. Mothill
Feasible prospects
4. Escobedo
5. Brainstorm
6. The Hood
Moderate prospects
7. Girandole
8. Chipping Away
9. Chadlington Lad
10. Mind Hunter
Negligible prospects
11. Shielded
12. Professor Calculus
13. Clarendon Cross
14. Bryanwood

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MUSSELBURGH - 1st JANUARY - PREVIEW
2021 kicks off with a Grey Bomber (named after the ill-fated juvenile of Denys Smith) qualifier at the very Musselburgh where the £30,000 final is due to be hosted in March. Typically over half a stone stronger than the standard race at the venue, it also serves as a step towards the Scottish Triumph Trial with five horses reaching the frame in both races since 2014 and last season's winner, Fiveandtwenty, winning in both before finishing third in the Anniversary at Aintree. Furthermore, Project Bluebook and Nietzsche, first and third in 2017, would go on to finish fourth and third respectively in that season's Fred Winter. Next year's renewal looks up to scratch with two fairly useful winning hurdlers taking on a pair of intriguing recruits, with a couple of Iain Jardine's representing the Scottish contingent. A sharp and almost flat left-handed track, Musselburgh's average winning DIs of 1.26 median, 1.41 mean are on the higher side of standard and its clear round rate of 96.27% is close to average. Odds-on favourites have a decent strike rate of 70.97%, the median winning SP of 2/1`is the fifth lowest in Britain. Newcomers have a somewhat lower chance against experienced rivals than at other venues, but their clear round rate 96.88% is actually higher than the average; one of a handful of racecourses where this is the case. All of this combines to indicate that Musselburgh is one of the most straightforward racecourses around. In this particular contest, of which there have been eight runnings, newcomers have a strike rate of 20% with an impact value 1.38 while previous winners have similar figures of 21.43% and 1.47 respectively. Previous course experience is not a particularly telling factor although winning form at Musselburgh is a positive with with such horses having a 28.26% strike rate. Furthermore, five previous course winners have taken in this contest with all of them reaching the frame and two of them passing the post in front. Despite the small field, most of these horses have either led or raced prominently so a strong pace looks likely. The going is currently described as good to soft, soft in places, with breezes and light rain anticipated in the interim. 

Collingham bg Donald McCain f13-3-4 (33,0-72.6) 82 j2-1-1 (123) 118 121
Samum (Mull of Kintyre){6-d}(0.78) 0.5 Chez Hans 1st 2m2½f Handicap Hurdle (131), Newton Abbot 2021
https://www.equidia.fr/chevaux/collingham
Juvenile hurdlers bought out of French flat claimers have solid winner to runner rate of 22.81% which increases to 32% when the horse won its claimer. Adagio and Noble Request are two notable examples, although few will develop into much above average. Nevertheless, Donald McCain's first juvenile to come out of a French claimer, Collingham, has made a promising start to his hurdling career. Initially with Christian von der Recke, Collingham first racecourse appearance came in a Compiegne claimer last October where he won by three lengths, and was claimed afterwards for €30,009 to join Fabrice Vermeulen. Runner-up on his remaining three outings at two, he began 2021 with a valeur of 39 (85.8 BHA) but his poor runs outnumbered his good and that mark would drop six kilos in the run-up to July. That month saw him dropped into a modest Aix-les-Bains claimer over 2500m on soft ground. Held up in midfield, he was outpaced on the turn for home but though he made a meal of going through the gears, he was able to hit the front 100m out and regain the winning thread by a length. His final start in France came in a slightly better claimer at Clairefontaine in similar conditions. Here, he found it easier to stay in contention and after getting to the lead 300m out, would run on strongly to win by two and a half lengths. Changing hands for €17,800, he embarked on a British hurdling career which was certainly feasible on breeding. Samum has a solid record with juveniles in Britain and France while the dam has already produced two winning jumpers in Chandos Belle and Chez Harris; the former incidentally taking the Von Der Recke, French claiming route to the division, but failing to win for Paul Nicholls before eventually becoming quite useful. Collingham made his hurdling debut at Musselburgh in early November and was well supported in the ring getting backed into 8/11 from an opening 6/5. Initially prominent in a decently run race, he was restrained during the back stretch and began the home straight with a couple of lengths to find. He jumped two out with a share of the lead but as at Aix-les-Bains, he was not immediate in quickening. Nevertheless, the penny did drop after the last and he pulled ahead towards the line for a five length win. His jumping was a little untidy at times but few of his errors cost him any real momentum. The form was respectable without being much better than average, and a sterner examination was given back at the venue some four weeks ago. He was sent off a steady 3/1 behind the odds-on Skycutter who was soon in a very clear lead. Collingham led the pursuit and though there was still well over a dozen lengths between the two entering the straight, that gap had been reduced to a length by the furlong pole. However, the effort to close the gap, where he completed the penultimate furlong over a second quicker than the winner, proved telling with the pair finishing almost a distance clear of the remainder. Skycutter did not advertise the form in the Finale although he enjoyed nothing like the gift he received here. During his two outings, Collingham has already come close to his flat best and is due credit for his latest performance where his hurdling was also much tidier. This is a tight contest but he just about brings the best hurdles form which and it being achieved at this venue is a solid positive. Furthermore, Donald McCain, who is in good form at the moment, also has a strong record at Musselburgh with last year's winner Fiveandtwenty contributing to a 29.63% strike rate.

Inca Prince bg Ruth Jefferson bg f6-1-0 (84) 87 j4-1-2 (120) 112 119
Fast Company (Hawk Wing){5-g}(1.00) 3/1 Definate Spectacle 2nd Tipperary Hurdle (G2), Tipperary 2007
Starting career with Henry de Bromhead, Inca Prince made a winning debut at Dundalk last September and left the yard with a rating of 86 after finishing sixth in a listed race there in early March. However, his three flat outings for new trainer Cormac Farrell (hitherto winless in juvenile hurdles) resulted in him standing on himself in the stalls, refusing to race and finishing detached. Though he was running beyond a mile for the first time and was sent off a 125/1 outsider for his hurdles bow at Listowel in September, there was cause for optimism in the pedigree. Fast Company had a strong winner to runner rate of 34.78% with juveniles going into the race while the useful Definate Spectacle appears at 3/1 on the damline. Held up in the rear, Inca Prince took a keen hold during the early stages and was not especially fluent over the second or third. Nevertheless, he jumped and settled better going onto the second circuit and made steady headway before turning for home in the leading pack. He made mistakes over the last two which cost him momentum, but was able to win the battle for fifth on the run-in. Inca Prince completely outran his odds and though he is still some way off his earlier flat form, this was a definite step in the right direction. Sporting a first time hood, he continued his progression in a Gowran Park maiden a fortnight later. He was steady in the ring at 8/1, but unsteady in the race itself; immediately pulling himself to the front from a midfield position while doing his best to pull out Adam Short's arms. Though decent enough over the second and third, his hurdling was also wayward despite getting a lead along the back where he was especially close to the fourth and seventh. Nevertheless, he was still travelling well when jumping the penultimate flight with a narrow lead, and comfortably extended that gap to three lengths before meeting the last on completely the wrong stride. He was immediately headed on landing and would be relegated to third on the run-in. Apart from the fifth winning next time, the subsequent form has been disappointing. The same can not be said of Inca Prince's third start where he ran into two subsequent pattern winners at Down Royal at the end of October. Though still keen for much of the race, his rider did manage to restrain him in the rear and his jumping was much better as a result. Winner Fil Dor was in a class and race of his own, but Inca Prince did finish within a length of Sea Sessions who would land a listed fillies' race at Aintree next time. A move to Ruth Jefferson followed with his British debut coming in a fairly average contest at Catterick eighteen days ago. Starting the solid 85/40 favourite, he went straight into the lead and though still conspicuously keen, at least appeared to travel better up front. Inca Prince was in a clear lead going along the back at which point the field was well strung out. Nothing else looked like landing a blow prior and kept up to his work, he passed the post upwards of six lengths clear of the rest. The pace he set was a sensible one rather than one which would burn off average horses, but while the runner-up ran completely flat next time at Wetherby, the third did score in the same contest. The yard has had few juveniles or runners at Musselburgh to date, but it did have a winner at Kelso on Wednesday. Inca Prince's form is not far off Collingham's and he is entitled to respect, although he will still want to settle better and he probably won't get another uncontested lead here. 

Individualiste rog Paul Nicholls f3-0-2 (32.0/70.4)
Cima de Triomphe (Slickly){4-m}(0.66) 2/2 Hollywood Park 1st 3yo Claiming Hurdle, Auteuil 2016
https://www.equidia.fr/chevaux/individualiste
Ludovic Gadbin has supplied four winners from seven to the sphere, although all four of those who won did so with David Pipe. The latest to make his way to the West Country is Individualiste who joins Paul Nicholls after fetching €56,000 at the Arqana Summer Sale. Though the most expensive of Gadbin’s exported juveniles, he is among the lowest rated insofar as valeurs are concerned with this thrice raced maiden arriving at Ditcheat with an equivalent rating of 70.4. Looking very much in need of the experience when finishing fourth on his debut at Nantes in April, Individualiste went one better next time in a minor contest at Nort sur Erdre. Nevertheless, he was still beaten by nearly twelve lengths and would only finish a few lengths closer when filling the same position on his latest outing at Chateaubriant at the end of May. Racing over 2,650 metres, he was difficult to settle at times but while still conspicuously green under pressure, he at least saw out the distance well enough. The second and the fifth both won next time, although based on the ratings of those who surrounded Individualiste, the aforementioned valeur does not appear to underestimate him. Indeeed, the winner at Chateaubriant has since joined the British juvenile hurdling ranks where he has achieved the sum total of nothing in three starts. Cima de Triomphe has yet to have a juvenile hurdler in Britain or Ireland, but four of his twelve progeny have won minor races in France as three-year-olds. From the family of Mondialiste, Intello and, further back, Dubai Millennium, Individualiste has no notable jumps relatives although two of his cousins won minor contests over hurdles as youngsters. Any horse running for Paul Nicholls warrants attention, and three of the six juveniles to have ran at Musselburgh were winners. However, the sole debutant was a disappointment and while it is a long journey from Ditcheat to just south of Edinburgh, he will be in the company of three stablemates so the benefit of the endeavour will not rest on his shoulders. Individualiste, for all that he was patently unpolished when last seen, does not fit the profile of an obvious star in the making and while he can make an interesting recruit, there are others with more substantial profiles. 

Meritorious bg John McConnell f6-1-2 (83) 86
Make Believe (Teofilo){3-c}(0.45) 2/1 Eminent Poet 1st 2m7½f Handicap Hurdle (135), Sandown 2018
Following a lacklustre Newmarket debut for John Gosden last July, Meritorious ran much better at the venue three months later where he finished second; just ahead of a green, future Grade 1 winner in Bolshoi Ballet. Disappointing again next time at Newcastle, he was gelded over the winter and though he showed nothing like his Newmarket form, returned with fair midfield finishes in ten furlong novice stakes at Leicester and Nottingham. Meritorious was last seen back at HQ when making his handicap debut in a soft ground, twelve furlong handicap off 80 where he started the 11/4 second favourite. An inability to settle had characterised his races to date and it was no different here as it took Frankie Dettori a few furlongs to get his mount into a rhythm. Tucked in behind the leaders, Meritorious was angled out to make his challenge half a mile out and was disputing the lead by the three pole. He hung markedly to his right under pressure at the distance but ran on well up the hill to win by a length and a tail. The subsequent form is sparse and not well advertised by those who have been out since, but it would still rank as the strongest available from the flat in this contest. Withdrawn from the July sale, he was offered at the Autumn Horses-in-Training where he was knocked down to Irish handler John McConnell. A trainer with a good winner to runner rate of 26.47%, his three stabs at this particular contest has resulted in Hannon winning in 2019, and Never Do Nothing landing the spoils a year later. This year's renewal does look stronger than either of those runnings and the yard is not in the strongest form at the moment with only one winner from twenty in the past fortnight, and forty-one runs passing since he last scored over jumps. His first time strike rate of 6.45% is below average and his juveniles generally improve from their debut outings. Notwithstanding, the pedigree of Meritorious is considerably more encouraging. Sire Make Believe has three winners from nine in the sphere to date and the dam is a half-sister to the useful Eminent Poet along with Orzare and Gabier who each won as juveniles. Meritorious is also a cousin of three further winning hurdlers, all of whom scored at either three or four years old. Any association with John Gosden would generally be a positive, but this does not ring true with his former inmates who go juvenile hurdling. The 15.31% winner to runner rate is fair at best at the 20.97% improvement rate is well below-average; although it can be noted that the promising Punchestown winner Pied Piper could be a possible trend breaker. Overall, there is plenty to like about the profile of Meritorious and it would be no surprise to see him emerge as a useful recruit. However, this is a decent contest for the venue and there are a couple of factors that temper enthusiasm.

Push For Sixty blg Iain Jardine f1-0-0 (-) 14 j1-0-0 (-) 36 39
Sixties Icon (Verglas){9-b}(0.71) 1/0 Push Me 1st 2m½f Handicap Hurdle (91), Perth 2014
Iain Jardine is doubly represented as he flies the saltire in the Hogmaneigh card's opener. The Carrutherstown handler has had a winning juvenile at Musselburgh, but this is alongside fourteen losers and his three runners in this contest have each failed to place. Push For Sixty never left the rear and beat just one home on his sole flat outing when twenty-eight lengths behind the winner in a Ripon maiden back in July. Three months later, he made his hurdling debut at this venue in Collingham's race. His dam won a handicap hurdler and Sixties Icon can do well in the sphere during the summer, but his 66/1 starting price was not a generous reflection of his prospects. Taking a keen hold in the rear, Push For Sixty did not jump with fluency and though just about in touch leaving the back, he would only get detached from thereon and was the tailed off last to complete.

Oot Ma Way bf Iain Jardine f12-2-2 (52) 57 j2-0-0 (-) 89 99
Power (Giant's Causeway){22-d}(1.00) 2/1 Monotype 1st 2m Rated Hurdle, Wexford 2018
Stablemate Oot Ma Way achieved little in two outings for Katie Scott last Autumn before switching to Iain Jardine during the winter. She did little at Newcastle on her return but in nine outings between June and November, she developed into a largely consistent sort at a modest level. A keen going sort, cheekpieces were applied in late August and a drop town to ten furlongs the following month saw her finally get off the mark in a Newcastle handicap off 46. Raised three pounds for this success, she followed up at Wolverhampton with a brave performance before finishing midfield off 53 on her last flat appearance. A switch to hurdling was next on the agenda and it is a pastime for which she is feasibly bread. Power has a 33.33% winner to runner rate in the sphere and an impressive 88.89% of his progeny have improved for the switch in codes. Uncle Monotype has shown respectable form over hurdles while good youngsters Gibralfaro and Brave Dancing appear on the damline at 3/2. Her introduction came in an introductory hurdle at Newcastle on Fighting Fifth day. Having a couple of stones to find on flat form, she started the race as 50/1 outsider. Dashing through the snow, her keen nature saw her pull herself into a clear lead which was greatly reduced when she was very slow at the third. Headed when jumping three out, her retreat was not a hasty one but she was tired by the time they reached the last and she faded to finish eleven lengths behind the winner. It was a satisfactory debut outing and apart from her being slow at the third and tired at the last, she jumped respectably overall. Oot Ma Way was out a week later iat Musselburgh where she was again unfancied at 40/1. While keen early, she did settle on reaching the back and apart from getting three out completely wrong, put in another sound hurdling exhibition. However, she never had pretentions of reaching the leader or following Colllingham and was beaten much further than she had been at Newcastle. With a fair rating, there is a future over hurdles for Oot Ma Way, although it will probably begin sometime after New Year's Day. 

tl;dr
Collingham - Useful claimer on flat and bred to make a hurdler. Not blessed with strong turn of foot but ultimately comfortable winner of hurdling debut at venue and ran better than result when second here early this month. Sets standard on jumps form and course form a plus. Yard won this race last year.

Inca Prince - Promising flat career ended with whimper but has been rejuvenated by hurdles. Unlucky not to win at Gowran on second start and Irish form was enough for him to make all and run out emphatic winner at Catterick. Needs to settle better and may not get own way up front but worthy of respect.

Individualiste - Cost €56,000 at Arqana but price doesn't match his three flat efforts in France. Patently unfurnished when last seen and entitled to respect representing top yard but others have more going for them.

Meritorious - Highest rated flat horse in the field and is related to numerous young jumpers. Irish trainer is two from three in this particular contest but not in strongest form and ex-Gosden horses rarely carry their form in juvenile hurdles.

Push for Sixty - No show on sole flat outing and lacked fluency when well beaten on hurdles debut.

Oot Ma Way - Modest and headstrong but managed to win a couple during the Autumn. 50/1 when fifth of six in good race at Newcastle and run was not without promise. Jumped well but made little impact here early this month. Has future but probably outclassed here. 

Strong prospects
1. Collingham
Reasonable prospects
2. Inca Prince
3. Meritorious
Feasible prospects
4. Individualiste
Moderate prospects
5. Oot Ma Way
Negligible prospects
6. Push For Sixty

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HEREFORD - 4th JANUARY - PREVIEW
Mid 2010s hiatus notwithstanding, juvenile hurdles have been a fairly regular at Hereford although they are seldom of a high quality. Their winners' average seasonal RPR of 109.33 place it higher only than Leicester and the "summer jumping tracks" despite being propped up by Vasco du Ronceray who won his hurdling debut here in November 2012 ahead of placing in the Prestbury, Summit and Adonis Hurdles. For all that it is a maiden hurdle, the four runnings of this particular contest have been slightly more respectable; even if its strongest graduates, Long Call and Gerolamo Cardano who won in 2017 and 2020 respectively, could only pull up and finish tenth in their Fred Winters. This season's renewal has some potential, although it is probably no better than fair at this juncture. Line Of Descent, Krypton Gold and Hayedo bring promising hurdling performances in defeat while the newcomers are headed by representatives of Alan King and Harry Fry with decent winning flat form along with a "proper jumps bred" of Chris Gordon's. Just north of the city described by Richard I as "Hereford in Wales", the course is right-handed, mostly flat and has a sharp home turn. The winning DIs of 1.27 median, 1.44 mean, are on the sharper side of average. Hereford's clear round rate of 95.25% is the eighth lowest in the country and this is especially pronounced with newcomers whose rate drops to 91.30%. Median starting prices are standard while the strike rate of odds-on favourites is just below par at 58.33%. A few of these have led in the past over both codes so the pace should be honest. The latest going description is good to soft, soft in places, and only light rain is forecast overnight. 

Big Boy Bobby bg Alan King f9-1-3 (78) 83
Vadamos (Medecis){2-i}(0.45) 2/0 Itsanothergirl 3rd Juvenile Hurdle, Wetherby 1999
Alan King's prowess in the division can not be understated. He is the leading trainer of juvenile hurdlers by sheer numbers while his winner to runner rate of 47.37% is well above average. His first time strike rate is 28.89% with flat recruits rated 62 or higher, his Hereford rate is 22.22% and his record with debutants at Hereford of such ratings is two wins and two seconds from four runners. In this contest, he unleashes Big Boy Bobby who, prior to being knocked down for 55,000 guineas at the Tattersalls Autumn Sale, finished his flat career with Roger Charlton with a win and a rating of 78 to his name. Former residents of Beckhampton Stables have a fair winner to runner rate of 18.33%, headed by Old Guard, although only 23.08% improve as juvenile hurdlers and Perception, the only one to move to Barbury Castle (incidentally in the same colours as Big Boy Bobby) failed to win in the sphere. Three runs at two saw Big Boy Bobby start 2021 with a mark of 77 which was justifiable on his Newbury fifth second time out. Following a pipe-opener at Salisbury in May, inexperience probably cost him victory at Nottingham where he seemed perplexed by his rival edging into him. Wearing first time cheekpieces, he would break his duck next time in a ten furlong Brighton handicap. Though it was a fairly messy contest, Big Boy Bobby did well to thread the needle a furlong from home before running on strongly for a half-length victory. Stepped up two furlongs, he finished third on his next couple of outings; running creditably while indicating that the extra distance was not an issue. His first flat spell ended when a fair fifth of six at Redcar in mid-October. Big Boy Bobby is a first-crop representative of Vadamos who has already had a winner this season, and while his crop has been ten strong so far, 60% of those with rating have improved. There are no immediate jumpers on the damline but the granddam did place as a juvenile and both her half-brother and her dam were winning hurdlers. Much of Big Boy Bobby's profile is very credible in the context of this field and though lacking in public hurdling experience, he is entitled to a good deal of respect. 

Hayedo bg Gary Moore f4-0-3 (-) 84 j2-0-1 (-) 95 95 
Sea The Moon (Sholokhov){7-c}(0.65) 3/1 Hill Fairy 1st Lombardstown Mares Novice Chase (L), Cork 2008
https://www.pronoturf.es/ficha-caballo/c58dbcc04143b4253160b8d619314a2e
https://www.equidia.fr/chevaux/hayedo
Starting his career in Spain before racing in France, the German bred Hayedo is set to have his third run over British hurdles here. After fetching €58,000 as a yearling, Hayedo twice ran for Patrik Olave at La Zarzuela, Madrid late in the season where he would finish second over 1800m on turf, and 1900m on sand. The latter outing saw him finish nine lengths behind a horse called Speedful who would eventually move to France and race in claiming company, albeit as a seventy/eighty-ish performer. Hayedo's third outing is much more easily quantified. Having his first run for Edouard Monfort, Hayedo reappeared in a quite valuable maiden contest at Longchamp over 2000m in May. Keen in the early stages, he pulled himself into the lead and settled better as a result. He would maintain his advantage to the distance and though outpaced by the winner, would keep on gamely to hold second. The form is of a reasonable standard with the length and a quarter winner rated 96.8, and the third rated 88. Hayedo failed to match this form on his sole subsequent outing which came over 2200m at Lyon the following month. Though running a similar kind of race, he did not settle quite so well and while he fought on bravely after being headed turning for home, he found himself swamped in the final strides, finishing just under two lengths behind in fourth. There is also encouragement for Hayedo's new vocation in the pedigree. Sea The Moon (Allmankind, Tritonic) has a winner runner rate of 28.57% and an improvement rate of 50%. Sholokhov is untried as a damsire but 30% of his own progeny win in the sphere and the third dam is the matriarch of winning jumpers Hill Fairy (3/1), Hey Little Boy (3/1) and North Hill (3/2). His first run over hurdles came at Fontwell in November where he was backed into 9/1 having opened twice that price in the ring. Initially held up, he moved into midfield during the first circuit and was tracking the leaders going out second time round. However, he began to lose touch nearing the end of the back and was ultimately beaten thirty-three lengths. His caused was not helped by some novicey jumping which grew more dramatic as the race progressed, closing his round by hopping through his hurdles. Hayedo reappeared at Sandown early last month and was once again subject to outside support, trimmed from 16/1 to 10/1 at the off. He was sent into the lead and though he was still prone to hopping through the top of his flights at times, it was a much better round overall. He ceded the lead approaching the penultimate flight and had little left after the last, losing a remote second close to the line. Hayedo's best flat form along with his pedigree give him the credentials to be a useful recruit and he has been showing definite signs of progress over hurdles. He has yet to match the form of a couple of these but he ought not be discounted. 

Krypton Gold bg Stuart Edmunds f7-0-0 (53) 62 j2-0-1 (118) 111 103
Holy Roman Emperor (Pivotal){8-i}(2.73) 0.5 Aspire Tower 2nd Triumph Hurdle (G1), Cheltenham 2020
Stuart Edmunds has had nine winning juveniles from eighteen and although Krypton Gold was a modest maiden on the flat for Sheila Lavery, he has shown himself to have a future in this sphere. Costing just 4,000 guineas at the Tattersalls Autumn Sale, Krypton Gold became the second juvenile to join the Edmunds team from Sheila Lavery's after Hillcrest Fire; a fairly useful winner during the 2017/18 campaign. There were clues in Krypton Gold's pedigree relating to his potential in the sphere. Sire Holy Roman Emperor gets few "good" juveniles, but his winner to runner and improvement rates of 20.69% and 57.14% are respectable. Moreover, Krypton Gold is a half-brother to Triumph Hurdle runner-up Aspire Tower. His hurdling debut came in a maiden towards the end of November at a Leicester where Stuart Edmunds had won juveniles with newcomers on each of his previous two visits. Having started the day at 25/1, he was opened in the ring at 12/1 before starting the race at 7/1. Racing keenly, Krypton Gold was held up in touch and was in contention entering the straight. His jumping had been reasonable for much of the journey but became untidy under pressure. Untidy at three out, he was ridden to challenge on the run to the penultimate flight which he missed and stumbled on landing. The winner was still just about within reach at the last but he steadied on the approach and pecked on landing, leaving him with no chance from thereon; although he did win the battle for second. Krypton Gold was just edged out for favouritism at Catterick three weeks ago, starting a solid 9/4 second favourite. Once again racing freely, he led the pursuit of the clear leader and ultimate winner, Inca Prince. However, the standard of his hurdling had regressed and on leaving the back, he progressively lost ground and positions before finishing a tired twenty-four length fourth. Krypton Gold has already bettered his flat form and while his official mark of 118 is harsh, his Leicester performance still reads reasonably in the context of this race. Notwithstanding, he does need to improve in his temperament and jumping if he is to find success in the short term.

Line Of Descent bg Warren Greatrex f6-1-3 (84) 89 j1-0-0 (-) 96 104
Nathaniel (Invincible Spirit){3-o}(0.53) 2/1 Brainy Benny 2nd 2m1f Maiden Special Weight Hurdle, Foxfield 2009
Behind Zinc White and Titian, Line Of Descent is the most expensive juvenile hurdler sold at auction seen to date this season. Costing 135,000 guineas at the Tattersalls Autumn Sale, Line Of Descent made his debut for Simon Crisford in a ten furlong maiden at Doncaster's Lincoln meeting last March, finishing a promising third to dual juvenile winner Too Friendly. He ran to a similar level eleven weeks later when fourth on his return to Doncaster over an additional two furlongs before finishing a respectable second in a Newmarket novice stakes. Line Of Descent was off the mark at the fourth time of asking in an eleven furlong Hamilton maiden where he made all at a modest pace before powering away to win by three and twelve lengths. He failed by a length to justify odds-on favouritism on his handicap debut next time at Musselburgh and he capped off his flat campaign with a moderate effort on heavy ground at Leicester in early October. After passing through Tatts, he joined a Warren Greatrex yard with a solid 23.33% winner to runner rate in the sphere along with a sound improvement rate of 55.00%. Sire Nathaniel also has strong figures in the discipline at 33.33% and 50.00% respectively while uncle Brainy Benny has some hurdling form in America. Line Of Descent's hurdling debut came in a traditionally decent contest at Newbury three weeks ago and unlike the aforementioned expensive lots at the top of the profile, he was able to show form first time out. He was backed during the morning from 9/1 to 5/1 at which he would steadily remain in the ring. Sent straight into the lead, he set an honest tempo and led until shortly after three out. Though he was still on the bridle, he was left behind quite quickly at the penultimate flight whereafter he was not knocked about as he came home a fourteen length fourth. The winner boosted the form with a good third in the Finale Hurdle and, supplementing the best flat rating, this performance sets the standard here. With a solid foundation and further improvement to come along with his being likely suited by the expected conditions, a strong run from Line Of Descent would not be unexpected.

My Ticketyboo bg Chris Gordon Unraced
Shirocco (Subtle Power){1-b}(0.57) 2/1 Sher Beau 3rd John Durkan Memorial Chase (G1), Punchestown 2006
Unraced debutants in juvenile hurdles have a modest record and when isolating Irish breds, their first time strike rate is just 1.71%. If anything can be said for My Ticketyboo's breeding, it is that he has a proper national hunt pedigree. Shirocco has produced the likes of Annie Power and Minella Rocco, damsire Subtle Power was responsible for Lie Forrit and Highland Hunter, the dam is a half-sister to four good winners in Sher Beau, Last Goodbye, Freds Benefit and Glen Beg while coming from the same line as Givus A Buck. However, the aforementioned all started in bumpers and points while Shirocco's winner to runner rate with juveniles is a moderate 12.77%. Chris Gordon does have a winner to runner rate of 24.14% and he enjoyed a double at Plumpton on Sunday. However, his first time strike rate is just 3.57% and for all that My Ticketyboo can make a jumper in time, the statistics are against him making an immediate impact.

Pride Of Nepal bg Jeremy Scott f9-0-2 (63) 69 j2-0-0 (-) 88 95
The Gurkha (Tamayuz){3-d}(0.82) 3/2 Hanover Street 1st 2m 4yo Maiden Hurdle, Tramore 2016
Juvenile hurdlers bought from sellers rarely show useful form over hurdles, although they do have a solid 21.13% winner to runner rate. This drops to 18.47% for those claimed after being beaten which is still close enough to standard. Pride Of Nepal was one such horse when purchased for £6,400 having finished second at Lingfield for Hughie Morrison - a trainer whose former inmates have a solid 21.88% winner runner rate. He ended his first flat spell a nine race maiden which included three handicap defeats for his current trainer; the second of which a reasonable second at Wolverhampton off 63. His hurdling career began at Fontwell in mid November and though he drifted from 20/1 to 50/1 during the day, he was trimmed back to 28/1 in the ring. Settling in the rear, he was steep at the second when stumbling on landing, but otherwise hurdled respectably. Passing beaten horses when approaching the straight, he briefly threatened to run into a place but his effort petered out and with a couple of tired jumps, finishing a twenty-eight length fifth. Pride Of Nepal returned a month later at Newbury where he was sent off an unfancied 40/1. Settled in the rear once again, he also looked in contention for a place before finishing weakly in a twenty-four length sixth. Apart from being tight at a couple and slow away from the last, his hurdling was acceptable. Pride Of Nepal has yet to match his flat best over hurdles but his efforts have not been without potential and he may appreciate the conditions around Hereford. Nevertheless, he has yet to show he can get seriously involved in a race of this nature and will probably be better suited by a handicap mark. 

Sand In My Shoes chg Jo Davis f3-0-0 (36) 34 j1-0-0 (-) 0 0 
Mastercraftsman (Mount Nelson){16-c}(1.00) 0.5 Schone Aussicht 1st 2m1½f Novice Hurdle, Downpatrick 2021
Another formerly handled by Roger Charlton, Sand In My Shoes cost €43,000 as a yearling but would fail to beat a single rival home in three starts between December 2020 and January 2021. Joining Jo Davis, who has had two wins from seventeen juvenile hurdlers, Sand In My Shoes embarked on a career for which he is feasibly bred. Mastercraftsman has a fine winner runner rate of 26.44%, sits alongside Authorized and High Chaparral and behind only Montjeu and Galileo for overall winners. Half-sister Schone Aussicht is a winning novice hurdler in Ireland while the third dam produced Simoun (who would have made an interesting jumps sire) and German hurdler Shining. Scout Master and Song Of War, who won Grande Courses des Haies at Enghien and Cagnes-sur-Mer respectively, appear at 5/2. Sand In My Shoes made his jumps bow at Sandown early last month where he started at 200/1. Held up towards the rear, he was starting to get chased along while steadying at his jumps in the country. A short lived effort at the end of the back fizzled out by the time they reached the straight and he was pulled up afterwards. Sand In My Shoes is not devoid of aptitude, but he will need time and experience before he might be competitive over hurdles. 

Saveasea bg Dan Skelton b1-0-0 (-) 76 j1-0-0 (-) 27 31
Sea The Moon (Monashee Mountain){20-a}(1.35) 3/1 House Master 1st 3600m Handicap Hurdle (58,5), Cagnes-sur-Mer 2005
Though his half-brother was twice placed in listed company at two, and uncle Dr Brendler won the Leopardstown 2000 Guineas Trial before finishing third in the Grade 1 Manhattan Handicap, Saveasea's racecourse debut came in a junior bumper at Aintree in November. He was backed into 3/1 second favouritism on course but only left the rear to make a challenge in the straight which earned him a twenty length sixth place. Though largely flat bred, there is hurdling potential in Saveasea's pedigree as Sea The Moon has a 29.41% winner to runner rate with juveniles, and his damline has winning jumpers in America (Monsieur Henri, 2/1), France (House Master, 3/1) and Czech Rep (Naguiba, 3/1). The switch to hurdles came in a hot contest at Warwick where he was a lukewarm 14/1 in the market. Held up towards the rear, he jumped big at his hurdles and would lose further ground midway along the back before finishing completely tailed off. Given his breeding and training, much better could have been expected from Saveasea thus far. However, he will have doubts surrounding his ability until he proves otherwise on the course.

Winterwatch bg Harry Fry f6-2-3 (79) 86 
Lord Of England (Konigstiger){5-h}(1.00) 3/1 Winward Island 1st 3400m Steeple Chase, Quakenbrück 2003
Since 2004/05, Andrew Balding has supplied the juvenile hurdling division with 102 horses. Twenty of them would win during their initial campaigns although just 25% would actually improve. Harry Fry has a 20% winner to runner rate and the first former Balding horse to represent him over hurdles is set to be Winterwatch. Gelded and hooded ahead of his racecourse bow at Southwell in April, Winterwatch followed a one paced third with a more lively second in a twelve furlong Leicester maiden before getting off the mark at the third time of asking in a soft ground, twelve furlong maiden at Catterick in early July. Starting as second favourite, he settled in third of four and after sweeping into the lead on the turn for home, was kept up to his work to run out a commanding four length winner. The second and third have not been seen since and the beaten favourite patently underperformed. The form of his follow-up win can at least be substantiated by it coming in a handicap; in particular, one at Lingfield over thirteen furlongs in early August off 75. Racing keenly behind the leader, Winterwatch pulled himself to the front passing the stands where he would continue to test his rider's strength. He turned for home with a three length lead and though he tied up close home, he was able to hold on by a neck at the line. After finishing midfield in some racing league contest, Winterwatch's final flat outing came at Newbury in September. While still refusing to settle, he was kept towards the rear and was in the process of making a threatening challenge in the straight. However, he found himself caught in a pocket at the distance and was unable to fully recover from having to switch a furlong from home. While it could not be said that he should have won but for his traffic problems, it could be argued that he may have placed better than his respectable third. Withdrawn from the Tattersalls Autumn Sale, Winterwatch moved to Harry Fry who said in a stable tour that schooling has been going well, although his hurdling introduction is a month overdue. Lord Of England has had three winning juvenile from six to date, while in France, his winner to runner rate with three-year-old jumpers is also an impressive 46.15%. National hunt horses do not appear immediately on the damline but the third dam has produced a winner and a placed horse in Germany while winning German chaser Wakita also appears at 4/2. There is plenty to like about Winterwatch's profile in terms of form, breeding and connections. He should make a capable recruit to the sphere although if there are points of concern, they would lie in his inability to settle and the trainer's zero from fourteen record with ex-Flat newcomers.

Rattling Rosie grf John Groucott f5-0-1 (67) 71 j2-0-0 (-) 57 54 
Lethal Force (Medicean){22-a}(1.67) 2/1 Endless Ocean 1st 3500 3YO Claiming Hurdle, Auteuil 2008
Formerly with Tom Dascombe, Rattling Rosie's flat mark of 67 is just about acceptable in the context of this division and the damline does feature winners such as Endless Ocean (2/1), Call Me Bubbles (3/2) and Solarius (4/4). However, Lethal Force is currently on thirty-four runs in the division without a win and the dam achieved little in two starts over jumps. Rattling Rosie's switch to the division perhaps had less to do with providing an opportunity for her trainer's first winner in the sphere, am more to do with her failure of a stalls test. Her hurdles bow came at Bangor in November where, starting at 100/1, she raced in the rear and jumped awkwardly. Though she made minor headway, passing beaten horses, she still finished fifty-four lengths adrift. Her second appearance came at Market Rasen  where she was again clumsy, cautious and awkward in the rear before being beaten forty-four lengths in a weaker contest.

Unfinished Busines grf Nigel Hawke j1-0-0 (-) 79 84
Clovis du Berlais (Fragrant Mix){19-a}(0.50) 2/1 Valseur Lido 1st Champion Chase (G1), Down Royal 2016
Making her racecourse debut at in a maiden fillies' hurdle at Leicester in mid-November, the very cleverly named Unfinished Busines became the first progeny of Clovis du Berlais to complete a race. Clovis du Berlais, a half-brother to Caid du Berlais, won an Auteuil handicap hurdle at three before twice placing in graded company the following year. Within his first book was a half-sister to Valseur Lido who was also a cousin of the useful hurdler Rhialco. Out of this mating came Unfinished Busines who was not particularly well fancied at Leicester, starting at 20/1. Held up in the rear, she was steady and slow at the first, big over the next two and found herself outpaced and in danger of getting detached leaving the back. An attempt to move into contention was curtailed by her slowing markedly on the approach to three out and after another mistake two from home, would finish a seventeen length fifth of seven. Though she is entitled to come on a fair deal for her debut, unfinished would be an apt manner of describing her and based on grandsire King's Theatre, she is probably going to be seen to much better effect with another year to her name.

Strong prospects
1. Line Of Descent
Reasonable prospects
2. Big Boy Bobby
Feasible prospects
3. Hayedo
4. Winterwatch
5. Krypton Gold
Moderate prospects
6. Pride Of Nepal
7. Unfinished Busines
8. Saveasea
Negligible prospects
9. Sand In My Shoes
10. My Ticketyboo
11. Rattling Rosie

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Juvenile hurdling, along with some cold weather, is set to return to Wetherby. Staff at the course are not unduly concerned so with our faith tethered to their confidence, here is a wall of text for Yorkshire’s first juvenile hurdle of 2022. Though not averse to hosting very good sorts, the typical contest at the venue is generally no better than average and none of the graduates from the two previous editions of this particular contest went into pattern company. While the weights are headed by a recent course and distance winner, the British hurdles form on offer is quite modest and much of the race’s interest is derived from flat newcomers and an Irish import. Winning DIs at the course are just lower than average and stamina demands at the venue can be particularly exacerbated on testing ground. Wetherby can also be a tricky place to jump around for juveniles with its clear round rate of 94.52% being the fourth lowest in the country. Newcomers can also find hurdling around the venue quite challenging, although while their strike rate is 2.09% lower than that of experienced horses, the disparity is in the narrower half of racecourses. The going is currently described as soft, frozen in places, and some rain/sleet is forecast overnight. Conditions are likely to be testing although the lack of confirmed front-runners in the line-up may offer the participants some respite.

Kayfast Warrior bg Donald McCain f16-5-4 (82) 87 j2-1-1 (113) 96 97
No Nay Never (Montjeu){1-p}(1.00) 4/2 World Heritage 1st 2m½f Novices’ Hurdle, Stratford 2011
The most experienced racehorse in this field, Kayfast Warrior is a veteran of sixteen races on the flat for Tom Dascombe with five of those outings winding up in the winners’ enclosure. Four of those victories came on the bounce during the space of sixteen days in the summer. Having finished no better than midfield on five outings at two, Kayfast Warrior’s 2021 began with three successive placings on the all-weather over a mile which saw his mark rise from 52 to 55. He had been showing signs of temperament but the application of cheekpieces contributed to his landing a selling handicap at Thirsk ahead of wins in class six contests at Lingfield, Wolverhampton and Hamilton. Earned over eight and nine furlongs on ground ranging from good to firm to heavy, Kayfast Warrior aggregated winning distances of twelve lengths. His sequence was disrupted at Chepstow where he gave best and traded as low as 1.11 in running before getting caught close home. Nevertheless, he would resume winning ways next time in emphatic style when taking a mile long, heavy ground, apprentice handicap at Sandown by six lengths off a mark of 76. Perhaps flattered by his being the only runner to go on the surface, his flat spell concluded with middling defeats at Brighton and Pontefract; looking a suspect stayer on the latter over ten furlongs on soft. Withdrawn from the Tattersalls Autumn Sale, he followed the hoofprints of Genever Dragon who was another Middleham Park, dual-purpose winner to make the short journey from Malpas to Cholmoneley. Montjeu is a strong sire and grandsire in the sphere with a solid record as a damsire, although No Nay Never had hitherto gone twenty juvenile hurdles without a win prior to Kayfast Warrior. A twice tailed off uncle is the closest hurdling relative on the damline before reaching the fourth dam who is the granddam of fair winners World Heritage and Kalabar. Patchy pedigree notwithstanding, his mark of 82 placed him within the 92nd percentile of flat recruits and he vied for favouritism on his hurdles bow at Catterick in mid-December before starting at 5/2. Initially prominent in the pursuit of the clear leader, Kayfast Warrior lost a couple of positions across the back and would merely pass a couple on his way to a tired, twenty-four length third. Though not a perfectly clean round, his hurdling was acceptable for the most part before he tired late on. With cheekpieces reapplied, Kayfast Warrior went to Wetherby a fortnight later where he was clipped in two-thirds of a point to 10/3 at the off. Like most of the field, he was keen in the early stages where the pace was glacial, but while initially prominent, Brian Hughes was happy to hold him up when the pace did pick up. Midway along the back, he made comfortable headway to return to a prominent position and after starting the turn for home with a narrow lead, would impose himself once entering the straight. He soon established a clear lead and was kept up to his work over the last few. Once again, he was no worse than novicey over the first few jumps but his jumping would really deteriorate as he ran out of energy as he was low three out, went left and danced on landing at the penultimate flight, and stumbled after the last when patently tired. He might have been vulnerable to a rival with stamina, but in a field of non-stayers in the conditions, Kayfast Warrior had enough of a cushion to win by a reducing length-and-three-quarters at the line. Strictly on collateral and pounds per length, this performance looks quite respectable. However, it is highly probable that like at Sandown, he was the only one to go through the ground. Despite going steady early on, it still took him nearly twenty seconds to complete the final furlong and had anything with reasonable class and stamina been in the line-up, Kayfast Warrior would likely have been comprehensively beaten. Furthermore, winning course form at Wetherby carries very little weight with previous course winners scoring only once in twenty-seven runs (although it should be noted that fifteen of those defeats came in the Wensleydale which would be considerably more competitive than any earlier event). Overall, Kayfast Warrior will be vulnerable under a penalty and despite a place and a win, looks a doubtful stayer over hurdles. Nevertheless, his yard is in form and he does go on soft ground. With a lack of any bona-fide pacesetters and few known stayers amongst the opposition, it is not beyond the realms of possibility that things might fall right once again.

Jaramillo bg Warren Greatrex f7-2-1 (85) 93
Oasis Dream (Montjeu){1-l}(0.75) 3/1 Global Thrill 1st 2m1f Maiden Hurdle, Newton Abbot 2015
Rated 85 on the flat and fetching 100,000 guineas at the Tattersalls Autumn Sale, Jaramillo would be one of the more high-profile recruits to the division. Starting his career at two with Roger Varian, Jaramillo finished thirteen lengths behind Derby winner Adayar in a Nottingham maiden before placing second behind a long odds-on shot at Wolverhampton. His return in a ten furlong Leicester novice stakes saw him get off the mark; although given his very awkward head carriage, he won more through happenstance than desire. Nevertheless, the form turned out to be reasonable even if it did not quite justify the allotted mark of 87. Jarmillo’s next three outings saw his mark drop by eight pounds with a gelding operation and the application of cheekpieces doing little to fend off the dreaded squiggle. Following a three month layoff, he was able to cap his flat career with victory in a ten furlong Newcastle handicap. Held up towards the rear, he made comfortable headway in the straight and took the lead just inside the distance. While his head carriage was still very much one of a thinker, Jaramillo still kept to a straight line at least and was ultimately able to score by just over four lengths. His next trip was to Tattersalls where he became the second most expensive juvenile to leave Roger Varian after Duroble Man went for 130,000 guineas in 2013. Former residents of Carlburg Stables have a strong 33.33% winner to runner rate in the sphere, although their improvement rate is a modest 27.27% with none achieving an RPR exceeding 120. Warren Greatrex does get improvement from 55.00% of his flat recruits however, and his 23.33% winner to runner rate is solid. His record with juveniles at Wetherby is one win and two places from six runners while his first time strike rate with flat recruits rated 70 and above is a fair 14.29%. However, the yard is going through a lean spell at the moment and Jarmillo’s pedigree is not the most encouraging. While Montjeu is a healthy influence, Oasis Dream has a winner to runner rate of 8.33% in the sphere and uncle Guarino achieved little in four jumps outings. The third dam did produce a fair winner and the next dam is the matriarch of Ginistreli (4/2) Genuflex (4/4) and Good Prince (4/4). Going by class and connections, Jarmillo should make for a decent recruit to the sphere and he is known to go well fresh. However, there are enough doubts in his temperament, pedigree and current stable form to temper enthusiasm at this juncture.

Keep The Faith chg Michael Easterby f4-0-1 (62) 63 j2-0-0 (-) 65 71
Al Kazeem (Selkirk){13-b}(0.82) 2/1 Shrubland 1st 2m4½f Handicap Hurdle (103), Market Rasen 2017
Gelded before he would reach the racecourse in mid-July, Keep The Faith raced not without promise on his first two outings at Hamilton and Ripon, but would be well beaten in a Hamilton maiden and a Ayr handicap off 62 where he ran flat on each occasion. A son of Al Kazeem, who had hitherto produced two winning juveniles from four, and a nephew of a moderate winning handicap hurdler, Keep The Faith made the switch to hurdles at Sedgefield in early November. However, after starting the 11/1 fifth favourite of six, he would lose the services of his rider after veering badly right at the first and did not jump particularly fluently while running loose. Keep The Faith’s next appearance came at Catterick last month where he was an unfancied 80/1. Though slow away from the first and slightly big at the second, he jumped soundly towards the rear of midfield, but he was unable to ever make any progress through the race and would finish a forty-eight length seventh. Keep The Faith is not without scope although he will most probably be seen to better effect with a handicap mark.

Royle Steel bg Micky Hammond b1-0-0 (-) 80
Spanish Moon (Smadoun){16-b}(2.00) 1/0 Suffisante 3rd 3500m 5YO Conditions Chase, Auteuil 2015
Juvenile hurdlers who started their careers in junior bumpers have a winner to runner rate of just 5.14% with only 2.25% scoring first time. Costing €8,000 at the Arqana Summer Sale, Royle Steel is the latest such horse to come from that discipline with his career consisting of a fourteen length midfield finish at Doncaster six weeks ago. He was not without support, trimmed from 12/1 to 17/2 on course, and he did lead for a long way but had little response when headed shortly after turning for home. The form looks fair for the level but the performance would not be particularly exciting in the context of this race. Nevertheless, Royle Steel’s pedigree comes with some merit as Spanish Moon has two winners from five in Britain and Ireland to date (although his winner to runner rate in France is a more modest 10%), and Smadoun’s broodmares have produced five winners from nine. The dam was failed to win but she did compete regularly at Auteui and is a half-sister to a winning claimer. Further back on the damline are good horses Pampa Pearl (3/1), Pibrac (3/2), Petit Tonnerre (3/3) and Normand Pearl (4/1). Micky Hammond has had a couple of winning juveniles at Wetherby, albeit from forty-nine runners, and his winner to runner and first time strike rates are no worse than fair. Royle Steel can make a jumper in time and he demonstrated something resembling pace at Doncaster, although he would be breaking a lot of trends if he is to be competitive here.

Stand Staunch bg Alison Hamilton j3-0-1 (-) 112 106
Camelot (Danehill){14-b}(0.76) 3/1 Amazing Sail 1st 2m5f Novices’ Selling HcH (88), Sedgefield 1997
Unraced on the flat, Stand Staunch made his first racecourse appearance at Roscommon in early August. While unraced debutants have a poor record in the sphere, his being a son of Camelot trained by Joseph Patrick O’Brien made him the subject of some interest. Going out to 12/1 in the morning he opened in the ring at 15/2 before being backed down to 4/1 at the off. Just about in mid division, Stand Staunch was subject to a dramatic hampering which saw him get brought down and emerge with a bloody nose. Reappearing seventeen days later in a Killarney maiden, it was a matter of speculation as to how much of an impact the incident left on his psyche. Steady in the ring and sent off the 5/1 second favourite, Stand Staunch was slightly slow at the first, but appeared to show no ill effects from the experience from thereon. Settled behind the leaders, he jumped well during the first circuit, but had dropped to mid division going out for the second time. He was shaken up after wandering and getting close to the seventh flight and had yet to make inroads when blundering badly at three out. Going through the top of two out, he had no pretentions of catching the winner, but he did manage to win the battle for second place on the run-in. His final appearance in Ireland came at Gowran Park in early October where he started the 10/3 joint second favourite. He raced keenly in the early stages and his round of hurdling was littered with errors throughout; wandering when big and slow at the first, getting very close to the third, completely missing the seventh and clambering over two out. Nevertheless, he maintained a prominent position thoughout and was still in contention when coming wide on the home turn. Though he lacked the pace to make a serious challenge, he did not lose much ground and kept on well to finish a four length fourth. The form is also taking a respectable shape as the horses he split in third and fifth were Inca Prince, a subsequent winner at Catterick and Musselburgh, and White Pepper who would take a Galway maiden before finishing third in an Aintree listed contest. Stand Staunch was then sent to the Goffs Horses-in-Training sale but a bid of £28,000 was insufficient for a sale. While it may be tempting to decry all dispersals as cast-offs, Ineffable did win first time after leaving Joseph O’Brien in 2017 and rarely did any place out of the first four. Stand Staunch has since joined Borders trainer Alison Hamilton who is set to have her first runner in the sphere. She did have a winner five runs ago, albeit in November, and two of her thirteen runners at Wetherby have been winners. However, only one of the twenty-five she has taken from another trainer has won first time, with Winterwood taking a hunter chase in February 2012. Nevertheless, Jamie Hamilton has been riding well recently and his mount here probably has the most substantial profile in the field. While prone to making errors and with a trainer who is difficult to assess, Stand Staunch does have the strongest hurdles form in the field and will most likely thrive in these conditions.

Tommaso bg Philip Kirby f6-0-2 (63) 69 j2-0-1 (-) 91 98
Bobby’s Kitten (Teofilo){19-b}(1.00) 3/1 Purple Moon 2nd Scottish Triumph Hurdle Trial, Musselburgh 2007
One of two participants formerly trained by Stef Keniry, Tommaso was third on his debut in a seven furlong maiden at Carlisle in May. He was arguably unfortunate not to make a winning start having been slowly away, racing greenly and giving himself too much to do. He finished third once again next time at Wetherby when demonstrating wayward tendencies, although he was close enough if good enough. After finishing fourth at Beverley, he was allotted a mark of 72 which was just beyond the ceiling of his achievements to date. After one more run for Stef Keniry, a fifth of seven on his handicap debut, he took a three month break before returning for Philip Kirby. Running flat at Ayr, he was better when midfield at Doncaster. His hurdles bow came in a fairly ordinary contest at Market Rasen in early December which he started at 11/1. Racing keenly while held up towards the rear, he was steady and close at the third while rather slow at the fourth, but jumped reasonably by and large. Making good headway when going wide on the turn for home, he entered the straight with a definite lead. However, he clipped the penultimate flight and was caught on either side as they reached the last which Tommaso duly hit. The first two would pull four-and-a-quarter and three lengths clear on the run-in and though it was a respectable debut outing, Tommaso shaped as though he would need a sharp test to be competitive. He reappeared twelve days later at Catterick and was solid enough in the market starting at 11/2. Keen early, he tracked the pacesetter over the first few but after reaching and pecking badly on the first in the back, he would progressively lose touch with the leader. Though still in fourth turning for home, he was a spent force by that point and he faded along the straight before finishing tailed off. Tommaso is another who has shown enough to be competitive with a mark, but he looks unlikely to see out the trip tomorrow; let alone make any serious challenges.

Bonne Vitesse bf Micky Hammond f10-1-2 (64) 68
Fast Company (King’s Best){14-c}(1.00) 3/1 Blue Canyon 1st National Spirit Hurdle (G2), Fontwell 2005
The former stablemate of Tommaso, and a current stablemate of Royle Steel, Bonne Vitesse has a similar rating to the first name as well as having a win to her name. Starting her career with Brian Ellison, she managed to win at the second time of asking in a six furlong Pontefract maiden in June 2020. Bonne Vitesse took her chance in the Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot but ran accordingly with her starting price of 200/1, finishing a twenty length last of thirteen. Her nursery debut saw her finish midfield off 70 and after being beaten twelve lengths in a sales race and another nursery, she relocated to Middleham. Bonne Vitesse returned to the scene of her sole victory with a respectable, never-nearer third in an ten furlong amateur handicap off 65. After running too freely to do herself justice at Carlisle, she placed once again at Pontefract in another ten furlong amateur handicap; benefitting from the race falling apart. She was last seen twenty weeks ago at Newcastle, putting another below-par performance to finish a ten length eleventh of twelve. Though inconsistent at best on the flat, Bonne Vitesse does have a rather compelling pedigree for the switch in codes. Sire Fast Company has a solid 38.46% winner to runner rate and his 65.22% improvement rate is behind only Pour Moi and Authorized among sires with twenty or more qualifiers. Furthermore, while uncle Esharaat could only muster a fifth in a modest Downpatrick handicap, the third dam did produce the very useful Blue Canyon who won a listed race during his first season over hurdles ahead of taking a Grade Two handicap at Haydock and the National Spirit Hurdle in 2005.

Raqisa bf Amy Murphy f7-1-3 (65) 68
Mukhadram (Oasis Dream){11-c}(1.77) 2/1 Knight Salute 1st Summit Juvenile Hurdle (G2), Doncaster 2021
Amy Murphy had a fine summer campaign with her juvenile hurdlers last season, registering four wins as the sport emerged from lockdown. She has yet to repeat the dose with her two juveniles this term, but may be hoping for better with Raqisa. Initially with Jedd O’Keeffe, whose five former juveniles include the winner Proton, Raqisa first saw the racecourse last March when she finished just over eight lengths third at Newcastle. Three months later, she filled the same position in a Beverley maiden and after finishing midfield in a Ripon maiden, would begin her handicapping career with a rating of 64. Drifting from 3/1 to 13/2 ahead of a ten furlong Beverley contest, she found herself outpaced as the race unfolded, beating just two of her six rivals home. However, a step up to a mile and a half saw her break her duck at Thirsk on soft ground. While there were only four runners, the pace was an honest one and having kept the leader busy throughout, Raqisa went into the lead at the distance and despite idling, ran on to win by a length and a tail. She blew her chances in the preliminaries ahead of a lacklustre performance at Ripon, but was back to her best over an extended twelve furlongs at Newcastle towards the end of September when a one paced third off 65. This would be her last spin on the flat for Jedd O’Keeffe and she sold for £11,000 at the Goffs December Sale. From six juveniles in Britain and Ireland thus far, sire Mukhadram has had two winners in Tabou Beach Boy and Doctor Churchill. The distaff side of the pedigree is also interesting as half-sister Stylish Dancer won the fillies’ juvenile handicap at Cheltenham, uncle Knight Salute has been a star in the division this term, the third dam has produced three winning jumpers and the good staying hurdler Top Spin appears on the next rung. Damsire Oasis Dream does rather anchor the prestige, with his broodmares’ progeny having a winner to runner rate of 8.33%, but there are more positives than negatives in the pedigree. The yard has gone sixteen runs without a jumps winner and its juveniles generally improve with experience, but there is enough in Raqisa’s profile to entitle her to some respect here.

tl;dr
Kayfast Warrior – Five time winner on flat for Tom Dascombe and won over course and distance eleven days ago. However, every horse in that race was very tired and stamina in the likely conditions is far from assured. Possible that things might fall right again but looks vulberable off a penalty.

Jaramillo – Dual winner for Roger Varian and has gone well fresh. Strongest flat form and joins yard with good record in sphere. Pedigree is mixed bag and there are concerns over temperament and current stable form.

Keep The Faith – Largely unexposed maiden on flat but only made it to first on hurdling debut. Better next time at Catterick but a long way behind Kayfast Warrior and should do better handicapping.

Royle Speed – Led until the straight on sole start in Doncaster bumper. Respectable pedigree but will most likely need more time.

Stand Staunch – All three previous outings have come over hurdles in Ireland for Joseph O’Brien. Inconsistent jumper but has the best hurdling form and shapes as though these conditions will bring out improvement. Subsequently joined a quiet yard which has had winners at Wetrherby.

Tommaso – Fair maiden on flat and finished third on hurdling debut at Market Rasen. Looked as though a sharp two miles is his limit and will likely need a mark in order to be competitive.

Bonne Vitesse – Won at two for Brian Ellison and twice placed at Pontefract at three. Inconsistent and but brings reasonable form and has a very interesting pedigree.

Raqisa – Won a Beverley maiden on soft ground over twelve furlongs and capped flat career with respectable third. Joins yard that can do well with juveniles and is another with a compelling pedigree.

Strong prospects
1. Stand Staunch
Reasonable prospects
2. Jaramillo
Feasible prospects
3. Bonne Vitesse
4. Raqisa
5. Kayfast Warrior
Moderate/negligible prospects
6. Keep The Faith
7. Royle Steel
8. Tommaso

I have also done a piece on some juvenile hurdlers who have yet to appear. 

https://twitter.com/HarchibaldS/status/1478851046353035272

Benaud and Matterhorn are probably out, and there are a few I will want to add in a future update (Rubaud and Got Glory for starters). If you have any suggestions then I am all ears. 

Thank you :)

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'No' would have been my answer to your question :D 

Seeing as the easy 16/1 winner was 'next best' on the list, I am a bit annoyed at myself for not being more cautious about the ex-Joseph O'Brien runner going to a quiet yard. Particularly as the drift and the performance told us what young Joseph probably already knew. Absolutely could not have had the favourite in any case though so fell quite vindicated in that regard. Decent enough essay overall so let's see if the one for Sandown is any good...

For as long as there has been a Tolworth Hurdle, there has also been a juvenile hurdle ran at the same meeting. Indeed, Sandown's first juvenile hurdle of the year predates the Tolworth and used to be run as a named race, the Village Hurdle, as it supported the Mildmay Memorial Handicap Chase. Though it would not have been one of the regular highlights of the juvenile calendar, being in competition with the Tolworth, the 1986 edition saw its fourth placed finisher Solar Cloud go on to win that season's Triumph at 66/1 and the nineties were a useful decade for the race. 1992 runner-up Al Mutahm would finish third in that year's Triumph, 1993 winner Kadi was a future Mildmay of Flete hero, 1995 runner-up Ocean Hawk went on to become a high class staying hurdler, Our Kris was fourth in 1996 before finishing second in the Anniversary and 1998 winner City Hall would finish second in the Triumph. The old century ended with the fragile Blue Royal finishing second in the following year's Champion Hurdle and the new one began with Lord Brex following up in the Anniversary. The best winner of the race of them all, Quazar, scored in 2002 ahead of scoring at Aintree and Punchestown; returning to the latter to win their Champion Hurdle the following year. However, it has been a very ordinary contest since then with its winners' seasonal RPR tending to be a few pounds lower than that of the average juvenile at the course. This is not to say that it does not feature reasonable types as the contest has been won by 2015 Chatteris Fen winner Arabian Revolution, and 2017 Victor Ludorum winner Don Bersy. Nevertheless, nothing from this race has recently gone on to be competitive in pattern company. This year's edition would probably be of a similar standard as the small field contains a couple of winners and a French import who is probably better than his British debut, but nothing that looks like a Festival contender. An undulating, galloping track, Sandown's winning DIs of 1.00 median and 1.27 mean indicate that it is a testing circuit, although the clear round rate of 96.97% is one of the fairer in the country. The going is currently described as soft, heavy in places and though it is expected to be largely dry overnight, heavy rain is forecast from the morning onwards. None of the five declared runners have made the running in the past but a few have still raced prominently and even with a comparatively sedate tempo, this contest should provide a quite searching stamina test.

Romeo's Bond bg Milton Harris f5-0-0 (55) 60 j2-1-1 (111) 102 102
Monsieur Bond (Daylami){20-c}(1.67) 0.5 Stimulating Song 1st 2m5f Handicap Hurdle (128), Cheltenham 2020
Spending his entire career with trainer Milton Harris, Romeo's Bond ran five times on the flat without starting shorter than 22/1, or finishing nearer than fifth. Prior to his switching to hurdles, sire Monsieur Bond had just one winner from seventeen in the division. Nevertheless, half-brother and stablemate Stimulating Song has shown useful hurdles form despite also having a speedy sire in Stimulation. The application of cheekpieces, the yard's fine season and the abysmal quality of the field saw Romeo's Bond start the 3/1 second favourite on his hurdling bow at Exeter in November. Held up in touch in a steadily run affair, Romeo's Bond joined the leader three from home and was travelling strongest, albeit slightly awkwardly, on the run to two out. After a clean jump at the last, he wandered both due to pressure and being alone, but still won comfortably in the end. His jumping was also reasonable, with his only real flaw coming when getting tight while hopping over the second. Very little could have been said of the form at the time, although the 20/1 runner-up Girandole did fill the same slot at Taunton last week. Romeo's Bond took a step up in grade to contest an introductory hurdle at Sandown early last month. A big drifter during the day before being clipped four points to 12/1 in the ring, Romeo's Bond tracked the leaders and though unsure at times, was largely proficient over his hurdles. The race was beginning to fall apart behind the leading trio when he was steady and close before slipping on landing at the penultimate hurdle. This cost him whatever of the little chance he had with Forever Blessed, but he was still able to grab a remote second at the post from Gary Moore's recent Hereford winner Hayedo. The form leaves him with a few pounds to find with a couple of these under his penalty but course form can be an asset at this venue and the yard just got off the mark for the year at Wetherby so it would be unwise to rule out Romeo's Bond entirely. 

Family Time bg Alex Hales f1-0-0 (-) 0 j2-0-2 (102) 91 97
Excelebration (Azamour){7}(2.00) 3/1 Architrave 1st Juvenile Hurdle, Market Rasen 2010
Alex Hales has a fairly ordinary winner to runner rate of 11.76% with juvenile hurdlers, although he enjoyed fruitful spells in the division during the past two summers courtesy of Hiconic and Maria Magdalena. His first representative this term was Family Time, who was tailed off on his sole flat start in a Newbury novice stakes in October 2020. Family Time can be forgiven that outing as he did not emerge from the stalls until the rest of the field had completed a furlong, although he was still an unfancied 200/1 chance that day. Furthermore, while his granddam is a half-sister to 2010s prolific early season juvenile Architrave, the rest of the pedigree is quite poor as Excelebration has just two winners from nineteen in the division, damsire Azamour has just one from sixteen, and though Windshear (2/1) was a good stayer on the flat, he failed to win from seven starts over hurdles. Making his hurdles bow in the season's curtain raiser at Hexham, he started at 25/1; shorter than only one rival in the market. Nevertheless, he the best overall jumper in the contest with only slight faults counting against him prior to a blunder at the last. Tucked in behind the leaders for much of the race, he moved into second on the run to the straight. His mistake at the last was no worse than that of the winner, but while it can not be said that he may have finished closer, he was still upwards of fourteen lengths clear of the remainder. His next outing came a fortnight later at Market Rasen where he was sent off the 11/10 joint favourite. Though his jumping was not as clean overall, and was close to the two in the straight here, he was still able to step up on his debut effort. Initially sent to the front, he was headed by the tearaway leader before regaining his lead when leaving the turn for home. Family Time jumped the penultimate flight with a length advantage, but was a sitting duck between the final two and his being slow away from the last sealed his fate. He was not disgraced and while his jumping under pressure is a concern, there is still scope for improvement and he can be competitive in moderate company. However, he has not been seen for half a year and the form that he showed during the summer would leave him wanting here; particularly with conditions being unlikely to suit.

Moulins Clermont bg Gary Moore j2-0-1 (-) 106 121
Free Port Lux (Ungaro){3-o}(0.67) 0.5 Paris Clermont 1st 4300 Conditions Chase, Aix-les-Bains 2016
https://www.equidia.fr/chevaux/moulins-clermont
It is a sign of the times, probably compounded by events of the past year or so, that Moulins Clermont was purchased not privately or at a public auction, but on an online shop. For €70,000, he left Bertrand Lefevre to become another recruit to the Gary Moore ranks. Continuing the prototype theme, Moulins Clermont represents the first crop of jumpers by Group Two winner Free Port Lux - a giant of a horse at 1.70m who, despite being by Oasis Dream, has a stamina laden pedigree and has already produced the useful three-year-old hurdler Itours Brun. Moulins Clermont's sole French start came in the Prix du Brevent at Compiègne which is a reaonable conditions race that has been contested by the likes of Adrien Du Pont, Ibis Du Rheu and Cristal Bonus. Held up in midfield, Moulins Clermont had a propensity to get tight at his hurdles but rarely caused alarm. However, despite the race being a slow one, he still looked short of pace and was doing his best work towards the end of the contest as he finished three lengths third of nine. The form is not exceptional, but it has produced a few subsequent winners and a performance rating in the early 120s would not be unreasonable. Half of Gary Moore's twelve French hurdles recruits have been winners including this season's Porticello and Kotmask. His British bow came at Fontwell in mid-November in a contest Gary Moore had recently won with Goshen and Nassalam. Moulins Clermont started the even money favourite in a field of twelve, although the good ground would not have been to his benefit. He was keen in the opening stages but had settled soon enough and was travelling comfortably while tracking the leaders. He went to his left at the first, got in close to the second and was tight and low at the third, but jumped the remainder of his hurdles neatly. He was still within reaching leaders on the second circuit, but began to get outpaced before the home turn whereafter he was allowed to come home in his own time under minimal pressure. The bare form is moderate but the ground is the most feasible excuse and he was withdrawn from a Wetherby maiden ten days later on account of similar conditions. An intended engagement at Newbury was aborted due to abnormal bloods so his return takes place in a contest Gary Moore won with Diego Cao in 2005, Knight Of Pleasure in 2013, and Hudson de Grugy last year. Moulins Clermont comes into this contest unpenalised with the strongest piece of form to his name, with conditions sure to be suitable and his yard on five winners already this year, he sets a solid standard. 

Malakahna bf Ian Williams f2-1-1 (-) - j2-1-0 (-) 109 116 
Manduro (Dalakhani){1-h}(0.33) 2/1 Dariya 111 1st 2m1f Mares' Handicap Hurdle (102), Newton Abbot 2020
https://www.equidia.fr/chevaux/malakahna
Ian Williams made four acquisitions at the Arqana Deauville Sale in July with Saint Riquier going on to place in pattern company. The next of the quartet to be seen was Malakahna who was introduced in a fillies' contest at Fakenham in late October. Ian Williams had only had one previous winner from his seven juveniles imported from the French flat, although this was also his other sourced from Christophe Ferland who, incidentally, won first time out. Malakahna, who cost €40,000 in the aforementioned sale, made her debut in a 2300m newcomers contest at Tarbes in May where she ran on to finish just under eight lengths third behind animals rated 92 and 80. She got off the mark on her second outing the following month in a 2400m Toulouse maiden on soft ground. Shaping like an absolute plodder, she needed the entirety of the straight to bridge the length gap between herself and the leaders before crossing the line a quarter length to the good. Nevertheless, the form looks reasonable with the next two being subsequent winners rated 75 and 72 with the trio over five lengths clear of the remainder. Befitting the racecourse evidence, she has a stout pedigree which is also suitable for her new discipline. Manduro has a strong 32% winners to runners rate while damsire Dalakhani is solid at 22.58%. The damline is teutonic in nature with the granddam being a half-sister to Davidoff and Denaro, while Don Cossack appears further back at 4/3. Though her credentials were solid, the sharp nature of Fakenham's circuit looked unlikely to play to Malakahna's strengths and she started the race at 12/1. Settling in mid-division, she stayed out of the well contested battle at the head of the field and as the leaders dropped away during the final lap, she loomed alongside Aliomaana on the cross section. Her rival was persistent but she had given best by the time they turned for home and Malakahna was ridden out for an eight length win with the remainder a distance behind. The form with the runner-up is decent although given the way the race transpired, she was perhaps flattered by the ease of her success. Her hurdling also left something to be desired as she completely missed the first, was tight at the fourth, stumbled after flattening three out and pecking at the last. Malakahna was given an opportunity to show her class in the listed fillies' hurdle at Aintree on Becher Chase day where she was sent off the 11/2 second favourite. Ridden prominently out wide in a very slowly ran affair, she clipped the first and got in close to the third, fourth and sixth. Though still in contention entering the straight, she was somehow outpaced at the distance and a fairly laboured one paced to the line, finishing a seven length fifth. Though Malakahna finished best of the home trained horses, her performance was still a slight regression from Fakenham and with the yard struggling for form at the moment, there is cause to be apprehensive about her prospects here. 

Raqisa bf Amy Murphy f7-1-3 (65) 68 
Mukhadram (Oasis Dream){11-c}(1.77) 2/1 Knight Salute 1st Summit Juvenile Hurdle (G2), Doncaster 2021
Amy Murphy had a fine summer campaign with her juvenile hurdlers last season, registering four wins as the sport emerged from lockdown. She has yet to repeat the dose with her two juveniles this term, but may be hoping for better with Raqisa. Initially with Jedd O'Keeffe, whose five former juveniles include the winner Proton, Raqisa first saw the racecourse last March when she finished just over eight lengths third at Newcastle. Three months later, she filled the same position in a Beverley maiden and after finishing midfield in a Ripon maiden, would begin her handicapping career with a rating of 64. Drifting from 3/1 to 13/2 ahead of a ten furlong Beverley contest, she found herself outpaced as the race unfolded, beating just two of her six rivals home. However, a step up to a mile and a half saw her break her duck at Thirsk on soft ground. While there were only four runners, the pace was an honest one and having kept the leader busy throughout, Raqisa went into the lead at the distance and despite idling, ran on to win by a length and a tail. She blew her chances in the preliminaries ahead of a lacklustre performance at Ripon, but was back to her best over an extended twelve furlongs at Newcastle towards the end of September when a one paced third off 65. This would be her last spin on the flat for Jedd O'Keeffe and she sold for £11,000 at the Goffs December Sale. From six juveniles in Britain and Ireland thus far, sire Mukhadram has had two winners in Tabou Beach Boy and Doctor Churchill. The distaff side of the pedigree is also interesting as half-sister Stylish Dancer won the fillies' juvenile handicap at Cheltenham, uncle Knight Salute has been a star in the division this term, the third dam has produced three winning jumpers and the good staying hurdler Top Spin appears on the next rung. Damsire Oasis Dream does rather anchor the prestige, with his broodmares' progeny having a winner to runner rate of 8.33%, but there are more positives than negatives in the pedigree. The yard has gone sixteen runs without a jumps winner and its juveniles generally improve with experience. There was enough in Raqisa's profile to entitle her to some respect at Wetherby on the eve of this contest, but she was withdrawn having thrown a strop in the preliminaries and would have questions to answer if asked to take her place here. 

tl;dr
Romeo's Bond - Fairly modest maiden on flat. Form of win at Exeter and second at Sandown looked quite ordinary at the time but have each been boosted in the meantime.

Famliy Time - Second on first two starts in typically moderate June contests at Hexham and Market Rasen. Not been seen since and unlikely to appreciate these conditions.

Moulins Clermont - Looked like a useful if ploddy sort in the making when third in reasonable Compiegne contest back in April. Unsuited by conditions on British bow at Fontwell but should relish the ground here. In form trainer has won this race three times including for same owners last year.

Malakahna - Respectable form on flat in France and won on British debut at a Fakenham which looked unlikely to suit. Race rather fell apart for her however and she failed to justify her initial impression at Aintree. Something to prove with yard in modest form.

Raqisa - Fair winner on flat and very interesting pedigree. Was withdrawn from Wetherby due to acting up in the preliminaries and would have something to find and questions to answer if taking her place. 

Strong prospects
1. Moulins Clermont
Reasonable prospects
2. Romeo's Bond
Feasible prospects
3. Malakahna
Moderate prospects
4. Raqisa
Negligible prospects
5. Family Time
 

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Punjabi and Beltor each made winning hurdling debuts during January at Ludlow ahead of winning the Adonis at Kempton, with the first named going on to win a Champion Hurdle. This particular contest has featured nothing of that calibre, but with the winners' seasonal RPR being 123.15, it is still an above average contest for the venue. In 2007, the first two, Altilhar and Laustra Bad, would finish second and third in that year's Fred Winter, 2015 winner John Constable went onto be a useful sort while Sky Khan and Pigeon Island would finish down the field in other editions. This year's renewal is not without promise although Dr T J Eckleburg sets the clear domestic standard while French winner Illico des Places and the decent Flat recruit Kolisi will have to atone for some disappointing hurdles outings to date. A sharp, slightly undulating, right-handed circuit, Ludlow's winning DIs of 1.29 median, 1.51 mean, are in the higher third of British racecourses with its clear round and completion rates being very close to standard. The relatively low strike rate of odds-on favourites, at 57.58% and high winners' starting price of 5.00 median, 8.24 mean, suggest that juvenile hurdles at Ludlow can be tricky to assess; although in this particular contest, three from four odds-on favourites have obliged and the winners' starting prices are close to standard. Though Illico des Places went off like a scolded cat at Kempton, he was ridden more conservatively in France and the field is not inundated with front runners. The going has most recently been described as soft, good to soft in places with their being a chance of rain in the morning. 

Illico des Places bg Tom Symonds j2-1-0 (-) 62 119
Jeu St Eloi (Anabaa Blue){6-e}(2.00) 0.5 Gatsby des Places 1st 3yo Hurdle, Royan 2019
https://www.equidia.fr/chevaux/illico-des-places
With his sole French start coming in a debutants contest at Châteaubriant, on a sleepy Sunday provincial meeting in May, Illico des Places had to wait a while for his profile page on the racing post site. Nevertheless, despite his rustic introduction to the sport, he showed the potential to be a useful sort. The field barely came out of a canter during the opening stages during which Illico des Places pulled extremely hard. Jumping himself into the lead at the fourth, he was still fairly headstrong but was not allowed to run away under Gaëtan Masure. Though he went through the top of the seventh, was flat footed at the eighth and got in close to the tenth, his jumping was neat overall and at times, quite taking. Holding a dozen length advantage turning into the straight, one might assume that there was another circuit to be completed given the lack of urgency displayed by the other riders. Nevertheless, this advantage was increased to eighteen lengths at the line which was achieved with the utmost ease. A race of its nature would take little winning, but the form has taken a reasonable shape. The second and the third each finished runner-up next time in similar company, Message Personnel won at Dieppe ahead of joining Dan Skelton, the last placed won a Compiegne handicap and while the pulled up horse won a small race at Erbray. Former trainer Francois Nicolle has a strong record of producing talented juveniles with last season's Quilixios and Monmiral enhancing the standards previously set by the likes of Botox Has, Allblak des Places and Coko Beach. Sire Jeu St Eloi has had just one British runner to date, but his first two crops in France have resulted in ten winners from thirty-two foals. Half-brother Gatsby des Places has won on three of his four completed starts while winners Kentucky Star (2/1), Double Double (3/1) and Happy Reunion (3/1) appear nearby on the damline. In Tom Symonds, he joins a trainer who has yet to win with any of his juveniles recruited from British flat trainers, despite six of them being rated 70 and above. However, his record with French recruits is a different story altogether as five of the six have been winners, including Don Bersy and Song For Someone. Though he was thrown into fairly shallow waters for his debut, Illico des Places did not get such a light introduction for his British career, starting in a Kempton introductory hurdle a fortnight ago. Going off the 10/3 second favourite, he was once again decidedly fresh, pulling himself into a clear lead only to be caught on the turn for home and weakening tamely thereafter. His round of hurdling could perhaps be described as exuberant, although apart from flattening the first, he was quick and neat overall. Illico des Places clearly needs to settle better, and his penalty might make him vulnerable. Nevertheless, his French win entitles him to respect, his ability to set a pace and jump at speed will suit him around Ludlow and his recent outing at Kempton may have a dual pronged effect of enabling him to strip fitter while having some of the freshness ran out of him. A scenario not inconsistent with the yard's record with ex-French hurdlers who have won zero from six first time out, but are three from five on their second outings. 

Appreciate chg Milton Harris f7-0-0 (57) 75 j1-0-0 (-) 9 16
Australia (Giant's Causeway){19}(0.68) 0.5 Institution 2nd 2m Maiden Hurdle, Wexford 2019
Milton Harris has had an outstanding season in the sphere to date with four individual winners; three of whom were obtained at the Tattersalls July sale for 17,000 guineas or less. The least expensive of his purchases this term has been Appreciate, a seven race maiden for Tom Clover who went for 12,000 guineas at the Tattersalls Autumn sale. Tom Clover, former assistant to David Simcock, has already produced one winning juvenile from three and his former teacher as a source has a winner to runner rate of 17.24% which stands just below average. Appreciate's debut fourth at Newmarket as a two-year-old was his only performance which warranted a mark in the seventies. Beaten favourite on his reappearance in a Bath maiden, he was then well beaten in a Windsor novice. A break, gelding operation and switch to handicap company saw him beat just six of thirty two rivals home in four starts with his mark dropping from 72 to 57. He had excuses when hampered on his penultimate start at Kempton, but there was no such extenuation when last seen finishing sixth of nine at the same venue towards the end of October in first time tongue-tie. His pedigree is not without encouragement as Australia has a solid winner to runner rate of 21.05%, Giant's Causeway has a fair record as a damsire and though the damline is predominantly American flat orientated, half-brother Institution did place at four in a Wexford maiden. It is difficult to get away from the disappointing nature of Appreciate's form but there is some cause for enthusiasm in his profile. Appreciate made his hurdling debut at Fontwell on Boxing Day where he was sent off an unfancied 18/1. Sporting first-time cheekpieces and racing in fourth position in the six runner field, he pulled hard during the first circuit which is a trait brought from the flat. After losing touch with the leaders towards the run to the home turn, he would be passed by the other two rivals and finished completely tailed off. His cause was not helped by his jumping left at every hurdle which will be especially to his detriment around Ludlow. 

Bryanwood bg Bernard Llewellyn f7-0-1 (60) 67 j2-0-0 (-) 48 57
Garswood (Acclamation){9-h}(1.00) 3/1 Atamane 2nd Grand Prix d'Automne (G1), Auteuil 2008
No better than a fair and rather inconsistent maiden on the flat for Michael Dods, whose record as a supplier of juveniles is a respectable one, Bryanwood joined Bernard Llewellyn after fetching 8,000 guineas at the Tattersalls Autumn Sale. His granddam is a half sister to classy French staying hurdler Ataman while Adjali also appears on the damline at 3/3. However, Garswood is still without a winning juvenile from six and there was little generous about Bryanwood's 66/1 starting price on his Newbury hurdles debut a month ago. Always towards the rear, he had his vision impeded when tripping over the first, but jumped reasonably from there apart from being slow away from the sixth. Nevertheless, he still finished a tailed off last of nine and fared only marginally better at Taunton a fortnight later. Starting at 250/1, Bryanwood never progressed further than the rear of mid-division, was tight and awkward throughout before finishing a tired sixty-two length ninth of ten finishers. 

Dragon's Fire bg Alex Hales f8-1-0 (65) 76 j1-0-0 (-) 37 38
Equiano (Dubawi){7-f}(0.57) 3/1 Atlaal 1st Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle (L,131), Kempton 1990
Alex Hales has a fairly modest winner to rate of 11.76% in the sphere and of the eight he trained himself on the flat, only Hiconic would score as a juvenile. Dragon's Fire is the most accomplished of such horses on the flat, however, with his peak rating of 75 exceeding that of Hiconic's by nearly twenty pounds. That mark came courtesy of a win on his third outing which came in a seven furlong, heavy ground Lingfield maiden back in May. Though he did well to find a gap in order to make his winning challenge, hindsight has shown that the form of that contest did not warrant such a mark. Consequently, without being disgraced in five subsequent outings, Dragon's Fire was unable to get competitive in handicaps and his mark would drop ten pounds in the process. He also failed to see out his races on occasions and his being by Equiano, without a winner from eight juveniles, gave little cause for optimism over hurdles.  The damline, on the other hand, is a little more encouraging as uncle Hatsnall won multiple points, cousins Eddiemaurice, Gale Green and Hint Of Grey were all winning jumpers, and the third dam produced good hurdler Atlaal as well as the dams of useful sorts Sadlers Wings and Head Waiter. None of this counted for a great deal in the market ahead of his hurdles bow at Kempton a fortnight ago, starting at 50/1, nor in the race itself. Held up in the rear, he made enough headway after halfway to still be in the pack approaching the turn for home, but was already weakening badly as they straightened up and finished tailed off. Apart from being big at the third, Dragon's Fire did not jump badly, but he patently did not see out the trip and this will likely prevent his being competitive over hurdles for the time being. 

Dr T J Eckleburg bg Olly Murphy f12-2-3 (73) 77 j1-0-1 (-) 107 114
Lawman (Lemon Drop Kid){1-k}(1.13) 3/1 Shalott 2nd Juvenile Hurdle, Market Rasen 2020
Starting his flat career with David O'Meara, whose former inmates have a 23.08% winner to runner rate, Dr T J Eckleburg finished no better than midfield in three starts on the all-weather at two, but would progress nicely during his three-year-old campaign. After a trio of promising efforts in handicaps at Redcar, Epsom and Ripon off 64, Dr T J Eckleburg put a poor Haydock run behind him by getting off the mark and landing the odds in a ten furlong handicap at Ayr on good to firm in early June. Held up in the rear, he settled nicely and made steady progress through the field before leading at the distance and keeping on to win by half a length. He was keener next time at Carlisle before getting outgunned in the final furlong and a half, but settled better and not given a hard time when midfield at Haydock. Following a near three month layoff, during which time he was withdrawn from the Tattersalls July sale, he returned with a respectable third at Newmarket  before doubling his tally with another victory in a ten furlong Ayr handicap; this time off 69 and on soft ground. Once again, he settled well in the rear of the field, made smooth headway, made his challenge at the distance and pulled clear before passing the post three quarters of a length to the good. Dr T J Eckleburg joined an Olly Murphy yard with a good 25% winner to runner rate and made his hurdling bow in a traditionally decent contest at Newbury in mid-December. Relatively unfancied at 11/1, he was held up towards the rear and after clouting the first, was quite buzzy early on. Nevertheless, he settled better along the back and his jumping was assured. Making smooth headway along the cross section, Dr T J Eckleburg looked dangerous as he tracked the leading line of four and was the last one off the bridle as he made his challenge at the distance. His getting close to the last cost him some momentum, but it did not cost him the race as the winner, who would place third in the Finale hurdle, pulled out more on the run-in.  Dr T J Eckleburg is a progressive and consistent sort who brings the best recent form to the table and has the scope for further improvement. Furthermore, the yard returned to the winners' enclosure at Sandown on Saturday and has its juveniles have had two wins from three around the course. His being a hold-up horse around Ludlow presents a slight concern, but he would still have plenty going for him here.

Fight For It bg John O'Shea f4-0-1 (76) 81 j1-0-0 (-) 24 25
Camelot (Fastnet Rock){9-f}(0.93) 0.5 War Eagle 3rd Juvenile Hurdle, Aintree 2019
Making all four of his flat appearances between April and June last year, Fight For It failed to reach the frame but showed fairly useful form on all four starts for Simon and Ed Crisford. Taking in novice stakes at Leicester and Kempton either side of a maiden at Bath before finishing third of four in a Ripon handicap on his final flat outing in June, Fight For It looked largely straightforward over distances from ten to twelve furlongs on ground from good to firm and soft; running to around the 80 mark on each occasion. He was sent to the Tattersalls July Sale where a bid of 45,000 guineas saw him join a John O'Shea yard with two winners from thirty-two in the sphere. Sire Camelot has a respectable winner to runner rate of 23.68% with juveniles, and while Fight For It is a cousin of top sprinter Starman, his half-brother War Eagle has some fair placed form over hurdles. Fight For It was a tepid 50/1 for his hurdling debut at Kempton where he effectively raced alongside Dragon's Fire for the bulk of the contest before finishing thirteen lengths behind the aforementioned in last place. There were some decent jumps amongst his round but he was also tight at the first and sixth while also steady on the approach to flattening the third. There is scope for Fight For It to make a hurdler in time, but with his yard's winning juveniles coming at the seventh attempt and later, it is unlikely that all of the cobwebs will have been blown out at Kempton. 

Imperial Sun bg Oliver Greenall f8-1-3 (82) 89
Sea The Stars (Pivotal){7-a}(1.75) 2/1 Tissifer 1st 2m1f Novices’ Hurdle, Newton Abbot 2001
Ludlow is one of a handful of racecourses where newcomers actually have a better strike rate (10.37%) than their experienced counterparts (9.99%). Imperial Sun is the sole hurdling debutant in this contest, having previously been with John Gosden on the flat. Shaping well when midfield on his debut at Nottingham and catching the eye at Kempton on the second of two runs in 2020, Imperial Sun began his three-year-old campaign with third place finishes at Windsor and Nottingham; looking a stayer in the process. He got off the mark at the fifth time of asking when stepped up to an extended twelve furlongs in a Wolverhampton handicap in early July. Racing off 77 and held up off the rear, he made easy progress to the front when going wide on the home turn and was shaken up to win very readily by nearly five lengths. Imperial Sun ran no kind of race in the Melrose Handicap at York and was equally disappointing at Newbury in mid-September. The application of tongue-tie and cheekpieces accompanied a return to form at Wolverhampton, although his failing to settle did see his final effort peter out as he finished a near five length third of eight off 84. This would be his final start for John Gosden as he was sold at the Tattersalls Autumn sale for 50,000 guineas. Former residents of Clarehaven Stables invariably bring good flat ratings to the sphere, although their winner to runner rate of 15.00% is no better than fair and only 20.63& of them will maintain their flat form as juveniles. Oliver Greenall has a solid record in the sphere and has now saddled one hundred and thirty juveniles without any of them falling or unseating. They do tend to improve for the run however with only one from thirty-four scoring first time out. Nevertheless, the pedigree does hint at hurdling potential as Sea The Stars has a strong winner to runner rate of 34.62% and as well as his being a half-brother to St Leger hero Harbour Law confirming his stamina, uncle Tissifer and cousin Be Seeing You were both victorious over hurdles. There is a good deal to like about Imperial Sun's profile insofar as class, stamina, pedigree and trainer are concerned. However, his tendency to pull might be an issue and he would be a fairly rare sort to both belie his exalted address history and his yard's first-time record in this kind of company. 

Kolisi bg David Pipe f7-1-4 (85) 90 j2-0-0 (-) 0 0
Harzand (Footstepsinthesand){4-o}(0.75) 2/1 Shubaat 1st 3m Handicap Hurdle (130), Southwell 2014
Expectations were presumably high for Kolisi, who made his debut for David Pipe in the Grade 2 Summit Hurdle having fetched 55,000 guineas at the Tattersalls Autumn Sale. Gelded before seeing the racecourse for William Haggas, Kolisi stepped up on his Ripon debut in April with a good second at Nottingham the following month before getting off the mark in a soft ground, ten furlong Salisbury maiden in June. Tracking the leaders from the outset, he was moved into the clear at the distance whereafter he was pushed out to win cosily by just over two lengths. His rating of 87 seemed to be at the absolute limit of his performances to date and he was unable to run to his mark on his next three outings; hanging left and racing keenly in the process. However, dropped to 84 and with blinkers applied for the first time, Kolisi ran a career best when last seen in a ten furlong Doncaster handicap on soft ground. Though still taking a hold and looking rather suspect under pressure, Kolisi was eventually able to put up a strong challenge in the final furlong, getting to within a head of stablemate Titian at the line. Incidentally, Titian remains his stablemate having changed hands for 155,000 guineas at the same sale. Juvenile hurdlers formerly trained by William Haggas have a respectable winner to runner rate of 32.35% and their improvement rate of 41.3% is just above average. Best amongst these former inmates include Bedrock and Swnymor who each cost 70,000 guineas, again at the same sale. The only previous juvenile to move from Somerville Lodge to Pond House was Royal Rationale who won one from six during the 2007/08 campaign. David Pipe's record in the sphere is a strong one with a 39.10% winner to runner rate and Kolisi's pedigree is also creditable as the first runner over hurdles for the dual Derby winning Harzand. A son of Sea The Stars, cousin of numerous winning jumpers (including useful juveniles Handazan and Hazariban) and measuring at 16.1hh, Harzand has the credentials to make a sire of jumpers. Kolisi is also a nephew of useful winning hurdler Shubaat and is related 3/2 with Miss Heritage and 5/4 with Well Chief. However, Kolisi's two hurdling performances to date have been quite disconcerting. An unfancied 25/1 shot at Doncaster, Kolisi raced keenly for much of the race and faded from his prominent position on turning for home. He was beginning to labour in last place when completely missing the penultimate flight, blundering badly and pulling up immediately. Reappearing later in the month at Kempton, he started at 33/1 and was keen once again while held up in the rear before getting detached at the far side and pulling up before reaching the straight. His hurdling was not bad, but he never travelled with any purpose and while his overall profile is one of an interesting recruit, he needs to put his two efforts last month firmly behind him. 

Mind Hunter bg Bernard Llewellyn f4-0-1 (73) 77 j2-0-0 (-) 82 94
Gleneagles (Oasis Dream){1-l}(0.50) 4/1 King In Waiting 2nd Prelude Handicap Hurdle (128), Market Rasen 2011
Bernard Llewellyn has a solid winner to runner rate of 20.69% in the sphere despite acquiring most of his recruits for four digit sums. Mind Hunter, who finished a pound second in a Lingfield maiden to a now 86 rated filly, left Richard Hannon at the Tattersalls August Sale for 26,000 guineas; the most his new handler has spent on a juvenile. However, he failed to match that form in two races on the flat for the Llewellyn team, beaten upwards of a dozen lengths at Chester and Wolverhampton during the autumn. Sire Gleneagles has a fair 18.18% winner to runner rate in the sphere, but damsire Oasis Dream has significantly lower figures and one has to go to the fourth dam before finding winning jumpers. An easy 40/1 shot for his hurdling debut in a decent Newbury contest in mid-December, Mind Hunter raced in midfield and jumped left (not right as reported) on occasions. He lost his position once reaching the straight and jumped slowly before finishing well beaten. Reappearing at Taunton a fortnight later, Mind Hunter attracted nibbles of support in the rin