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Juvenile Hurdlers 2021/22


Bachelors Hall
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***NOTICE***
During the time I was writing this essay, Graystone got bored and decided to do something else instead. The essay has been written and I will leave it as is for posterity. However, Hayedo, who initially had "feasible prospects", has been bumped up to top "reasonable prospect" on account of his likely uncontested lead. 

Enjoy :)

Ascot – 22nd January – Preview
The Aurelius Hurdle, named after the St Leger winner who would go on to win a steeplechase at Ascot’s newly established National Hunt circuit, was first held in 1968 when Banquo would reach the frame in both this and the Triumph. Paddy’s Return won both races during the nineties, but the contest was discontinued, with something of a bang, in 2003 as it was taken by Tamarinbleu; who would win the Clarance House Chase four seasons later. Incidentally, it was on the 2008 card that this particular juvenile contest was established. One of just two juveniles held at Ascot, the other being the handicap towards the end of the season, it has since produced a Triumph winner in Zaynar, an almost Triumph winner in Goshen, Triumph placed Top Notch and Grandouet, along with future Ascot Chase winner Balder Succes. Its most notable winner came in the first renewal won by Binocular, who was the latest hurdling debutant to land the race before Tritonic made a strong impression last season. This year’s renewal contains a nicely bred Dan Skelton newcomer with a good flat rating, although the experienced participants do set a good standard; headed by four winning hurdlers with respectable form. A galloping, right-handed track with decent drainage and a steady climb from Swinley Bottom, Ascot has below average winning DIs of 1.14 median, 1.33 mean. However, though stamina is far from optional at Ascot, the figures are more indicative of the class of runner the course attracts. There is little difference between the winning DIs and those of beaten horses, and the completion rate of 93.07% is the second highest in Britain behind Haydock. The clear round rate of 98.54% is the third highest in the country, and that all ten odds-on favourites have obliged since 2004/05 further emphasises how fair Ascot is for juvenile hurdlers. Two of the previous winners in the line-up did so having forced the pace to a solid tempo looks likely. The going is currently described as soft, good to soft in places, and rainfall is not anticipated before post time.

Graystone rgg Lucy Wadham f11-3-3 (75) 80 j4-1-2 (121) 117 125
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. Errors persisted in his round, 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 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 and the fourth. 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. He set a clear standard on hurdles form on his most recent outing at Taunton towards the end of last month, but was deposed as favourite by the Paul Nicholls newcomer, Irish Hill. Still racing freely, Graystone went into a clear lead, posting his best round of jumping in the process. His rivals were closing on him as they entered the straight, but to the eye, they did not appear to be doing so at a sufficient rate to reign in the leader and Graystone went as low as 1.03 in-running. However, having hurdled well to the penultimate flight, it was here that he made his first serious error; getting in very close without lifting his legs. His second error coming at the last where he skewed in the air, landed steeply before stumbling to the ground. The consensus is that he would most likely have won the race, although along with the sharp decline in his jumping, it is also worth noting that the final furlong was completed over two seconds slower than the previous. Even accounting for the fact that the final furlong featured no hurdles, the comparative times set by the all-the-way winner in the fillies’ race later on the card suggested more equilibrium could have been expected. Graystone does set the standard on bare form, is racing on fair terms, represents an in-form yard and is entitled to the according respect. However, despite the pull in weights with Irish Hill, he is not certain to confirm any perceived superiority and the likely pace angle will probably work against him here.

Hayedo bg Gary Moore f4-0-3 (-) 84 j3-1-1 (115) 114 118
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 fourth outing over British hurdles. After fetching €58,000 as a yearling, Hayedo twice ran for Patrik Olave at La Zarzuela, Madrid late in the season, placing second on each occasion. Hayedo’s third flat 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 was 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. Four weeks later, Hayedo returned in a maiden hurdle at Hereford; drifting from 4/1 to 8/1 during the day, before returning to 9/2 in the ring. Taking a keen hold, Hayedo went straight to the front while demonstrating good improvement in his jumping. He was neat when ridden into the first, but though rather tight at the second, was fluent from thereon. His rivals were all in trouble at the cross section and by the time he entered the straight, was half-a-dozen lengths clear. He was steady before hopping through the top of the last, but the runner-up made an even worse blunder which allowed Hayedo to storm to a thirteen length success. His task was made easier by the favourite pulling too hard, but the form is close to his flat best and there may be even further to come. Hayedo is entitled to run in a race of this nature under a penalty and is the representative of an in-form Gary Moore yard whose last three runs in this race resulted in a win (Goshen) and two placings (Beat The Judge and Casa Loupi). However, while his form is only marginally the weakest of the previous winners, the prospect of another uncontested lead is not assured.

Irish Hill grg Paul Nicholls f4-2-1 (38.0/83.6) 80 j1-1-0 (-) 106 119
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. Irish Hill’s British/jumps debut came just over three weeks ago at Taunton. It was a decent looking contest for the venue, but that did not prevent Irish Hill from being pushed into even money favouritism. He settled nicely enough while tracking the leader, although he did not make the best initial impression with his jumping as he was steady over the first two, went right at the third and was slow at the fourth. Nevertheless, though still given to brushing a couple while taking half a stride to get away from his flights, his hurdling did improve as the race progressed and was heading the pursuit of the leader turning for home. The deficit was not closing all too quickly, and he traded at 30 in-running before being left in the lead at the last. However, the leader’s capitulation and the closing sectionals make an argument for the race not being as cut and dry as it appeared. After side-stepping a tumbling Bryony Frost, Irish Hill stayed on to fend off the challenge of the closing Girandole, putting two lengths between himself and the runner-up, with the pair a further twenty lengths clear of the remainder. Paul Nicholls had a decent strike rate of 20% with continental flat recruits before Taunton, and that rate increases to 48% for their second outings. Irish Hill began his jumps career on a very solid platform and having shaped very much like an improver with pace and conditions looking likely to suit, he comes into this contest with a substantial profile.

Twilight Twist bg Alan King f6-1-1 (70) 74 j3-1-1 (123) 111 120
Twilight Son (Pour Moi){14-c}(0.57) 3/1 Krosno 1st 4YO Maiden Hurdle, Naas 1998
Alan King is one of the most dominant trainers of juvenile hurdles in the game and his last four runners in this particular contest – Balder Succes, Gibralfaro, Nayati and Tritonic – were all winners. He is set to saddle two in this year’s renewal in Twilight Twist and Restitution. Costing 5,000 guineas at last year’s Tattersalls Guineas Breeze-up, Twilight Twist earned his sole flat victory when staying on well under pressure to narrowly land an ordinary Wolverhampton novice auction stakes in November 2020. He would fail to double his tally in four outings at three and reached the frame just the once when third off 70 in a twelve furlong handicap off back at Wolverhampton in mid-July. First season jumps sire, Twilight Son, is a reasonable height, but is not otherwise a particularly compelling prospect for the sphere; being a precocious, speedy sort. Nevertheless, some of this speed is mitigated by damsire Pour Moi, and those trained for both codes by Alan King have a strong winner to runner rate of 47.83%; to which Twilight twist contributed when making a winning hurdles bow at Huntingdon on Halloween. Warm in the market and starting the 9/4 second favourite, Twilight Twist was keen early while being restrained in mid-divsion. He got in close to the first, and steadied when clipping the penultimate flight, but posted a mostly fluent round first time. Making headway on the home turn, he entered the straight disputing the lead and though his rival was persistent, he was able to pull out a decisive length with the pair well clear. He returned four weeks later for a warm introductory hurdle at Newcastle where he was a solid 11/8 second favourite. Tracking the leaders in a steadily run, six-strong affair, he was untidy at the first and became lit up after hitting the second. Twilight Twist had settled better towards the end of the back and was in a decent jumping rhythm. Smoothly moving to the lead either side of three out, he looked to be travelling with purpose at the distance. However, he pecked after hitting the top of the penultimate flight and was headed shortly afterwards. Any remaining hope and momentum was lost when he flattened the last, before finishing nearly five lengths behind his market rival. Twilight Twist was out again a fortnight later, taking in a class two at Cheltenham. Though clashing with the Summit at Doncaster, it was still a good quality affair for which he was less fancied than usual at 11/1. Keen again in the early stages, Twilight Twist sat in midfield and apart from missing the fifth (he had been hampered by a larger rival at the previous flight), put in a fluent round of hurdling. Though towards the rear on top of the hill, Twilight Twist was still in close enough order, but was again hampered by the same oafish rival and entered the straight detached in last place. His path was blocked on landing after the last, but he stayed on well to make up five places on the run-in to get within half a length of the third. Even without the trouble in running, the performance marked a new career best and the second and third each boosted the form when winning over the holidays. Initially penciled in for the Finesse Hurdle at Cheltenham next week, Twilight Twist has been rerouted to assist Restitution in his yard’s quest to maintain its strong record in this contest. There is a fair deal to like about Twilight Twist’s improvement with each outing, and the decent pace can help him to settle better. However, while Alan King’s charges are not running abysmally, he has gone thirty-seven runs without a jumps winner which is most unusual for a trainer of his calibre.

Doctor Parnassus bg Dan Skelton f10-0-5 (75) 83
Make Believe (Authorized){1-n}(0.45) 0.5 Metier 1st Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle (G1), Sandown 2021
The sole hurdling debutant in this field, Doctor Parnassus was formerly trained by David O’Meara; the supplier of four winning juveniles to the division from eleven including the useful Redicean and the promising Dr T J Eckleburg. Though he failed to win in ten attempts, Doctor Parnassus reached the frame on four occasions including when last seen in a twelve furlong, soft ground, Pontefract maiden in early October. The 7/2 third favourite of eight, he made the running at an even tempo and posted what was probably a career best in that sphere. He was able to see off the favourite’s challenge from the top of the straight, but was caught and passed close home by the smart hurdling mare Indefatigable. The resolve of Doctor Parnassus had previously been called into question, and though he ran to the line, his head carriage under pressure was still somewhat suspect. Notwithstanding, his stamina and class were arguably sufficient for his 66,000 guinea price tag at the Tattersalls Autumn Sale without even accounting for his compelling pedigree. Make Believe made a good first impression as a jumps sire last season with three winning juveniles from nine including Sage Advice and First Impression. Damsire Authorized is one of the strongest influence in the sphere and the distaff side is also creditable. From the same family as Teofilo (3/1), Doctor Parnassus is a half-brother to Tolworth winner Metier, out of a full-sister to the capable Constancio, with another winner in Deadly Approach coming from the third dam. In Dan Skelton, Doctor Parnassus joins a trainer with a good credentials in the sphere. His winner to runner rate is 37.65%, his improvement rate of 53.66% is the highest in the field, and his flat recruits are generally ready to go straight away with those rated 70 and above boasting a 34.78% first time strike rate. This is a tough introduction for a newcomer, but Doctor Parnassus has ticks in most of the right boxes and though he needs to fully confirm his tenacity under pressure, a decent first showing would not be unexpected.

Girandole bg Mark Gillard f3-0-1 (50) 49 j2-0-2 (105) 103 117
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, whose sole winning juvenile came in a hot potato of a race, 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 he took another giant leap forward at Taunton three weeks ago. Sent off at 25/1 having received some outside support, Girandole was held up in midfield and apart from getting tight at the fifth, posted a good round of jumping. With tired rivals falling by the wayside, he found himself in third position turning for home and after being left in second at the last, looked to make a strong challenge as he traded at 2.52 in-running. The winner, Irish Hill, was able to repel him but he still finished twenty lengths ahead of the rest. Strictly at the weights, he has a chance of reversing the form although Irish Hill was clearly the superior racehorse of the two. Notwithstanding, while he was flattered by the pace of the race, his finishing clear of the rest can not be discredited and although this contest looks beyond his scope, there is a race out there for this good and safe hurdler.

Restitution bg Alan King f4-1-3 (76) 80 j1-0-1 (-) 93 94
Frankel (Kendargent){4-i}(0.49) 2/2 Galasina 5th 3550m 3yo Hurdle, Fontainebleau 2021
The stablemate of Twilight Twist and the intended sole arrow for his trainer, Restitution joined Alan King for 50,000 guineas having previously been trained by John Gosden. The master of Clarehaven rarely leaves wriggle room in his former pupils, with their winner to runner rate being a moderate 14.85% and only 20.63% improving on their flat form. Two previous juveniles have made the journey from Newmarket to Barbury Castle, with Tiffin Top landing a Hereford maiden in March, and Sam Lord scoring at five but doing better back on the flat. Third on his debut at Newcastle in December 2020, Restitution made a winning return in a Yarmouth maiden, landing odds of 1/4 in workmanlike fashion. Gelded and given a five month break, during which time he was sold in the Tattersalls Autumn sale, Restitution finished twelve lengths behind a former stablemate at Kempton before placing third on his handicap debut at the same venue off 76. He had been squeezed out inside the final furlong, but was being edged out at the time and would only have finished closer in the same position. His stamina and attitude looked appropriate for a hurdling career, although his pedigree is more passable than exciting. Frankel has yet to excel with his juvenile hurdlers as he has done on the flat, with his figures no better than fair and few of his progeny holding their form between codes. The likes of Noble Request (5/2) and Flying Tiger (5/3) can be found in the echoes of the damline, but the closest jumps relative is a cousin who finished down the field at Fontainebleau. Nevertheless, his flat form and trainer were enough to see him start a solid 9/2 third favourite at Kempton last month. Running mid-division in a strung out field, Restitution made some headway from the far side and turned for home within a couple of lengths of the leader. However, he was left in the winner’s wake shortly on entering the straight and lost second place moments later before toiling home a twenty-nine length third. Slow at times, particularly in the closing stages when tired, his jumping was also marked by a propensity to go right did not help, even around Kempton. Restitution is entitled to improve for the experience, particularly as it came on the softest ground he had hitherto encountered, and the yard does have a fine record in the race. However, he still has the most to find of those with hurdles form and his being joined by a stablemate could be disconcerting given that the yard has been struggling for winners recently.

tl;dr
Graystone – Fairly useful on flat and confirmed hurdling debut promise with a win at Warwick. Looked poised to double tally when falling at last at Taunton but was probably tired at the time. Has the strongest form, yard in good nick and fairly weighted, but vulnerable even without the prospects of a contested lead.

Hayedo – Capable maiden in France on flat and improved with each run over hurdles. Off the mark last time in Hereford maiden when making all to win by thirteen lengths. In-form yard has good record in the race and not much to find on form, but would prefer an uncontested lead.

Irish Hill – Exciting recruit for top yard and well fancied to make winning debut at Taunton. Did not impress in early stages but learned as he went and though seemingly fortunate to be left in front at last, could arguably have closed on fallen rival. Considerable improvement anticipated based on both the way he shaped and his trainer’s record with this sort. Conditions and complexion likely to suit.

Twilight Twist – Inexpensive but reasonable winner on flat. Patchy pedigree but those trained for both codes by Alan King have good record and hurdles debut at Huntingdon was a winning one. Jumping errors did not help at Newcastle but still solid performance and Cheltenham outing much better than face value. Roped in to help maintain yard’s strong record in contest, but said yard is going through cold spell.

Doctor Parnassus – Maiden on flat with possibly suspect attitude, but stamina and ability not in question. Those formerly with David O’Meara usually posess scope and pedigree is very interesting. Yard has healthy figures in the sphere, including with this type first time out.

Girandole – Decidedly modest during short flat career and unlikely profile for hurdling. However, proved debut second at Exeter was no fluke by filling same position at Taunton last time. Possibly flattered by race’s complexion and likely to be outclassed here, but safe and honest nevertheless.

Restitution – Winning son of Frankel formerly with John Gosden. Neither factor is regularly sustained over hurdles and though with Alan King, was well beaten on hurdling bow at Kempton. Capable of being competitive at some point but needs to leave debut running far behind. Potential question of confidence as was initially the sole intended runner for this contest.

Strong prospects
1. Irish Hill
Reasonable prospects
2. Hayedo
3. Doctor Parnassus
4. Twilight Twist
Moderate prospects
5. Girandole
6. Restitution
Negligible prospects
.

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Warwick – 23rd January – Preview
Held in all but two of the past seventeen years, a juvenile hurdle has been held on this Warwick card. Though never having conditions beyond that of a Class 4, or even a maiden at times, it has still been a contest of reasonable standing. Hawk High and Don Bersy, winners in 2014 and 2017, followed up in the Fred Winter and Victor Ludorum respectively while 2009 scorer Trenchant took the Dovecote and finished fifth in the Triumph before becoming a solid Grade 2 performer. The six horses who started at evens and below all obliged, and while there are some interesting flat and bumper recruits, all eyes will be on the Finale Hurdle runner-up, Saint Segal. A mostly flat, sharp and left-handed circuit, Warwick’s winning DIs of 1.29 median, 1.50 mean are on the higher side of average. However, for this particular contest, the figures drop to 1.00 and 1.27; 0.26 lower than the beaten participants. Nevertheless, this is largely due to the typically wintery conditions which are unlikely to prevail this weekend. Newcomers have a record against experienced runners which is comparable to other racecourses, although previous winners are at a discernible advantage in this contest, enjoying a 40% strike rate. Seven are set to face the starter, but none of them are confirmed front runners. The going was most recently described as good to soft, and with no rain anticipated in the meantime, this might not be the most searching stamina test.

Saint Segal bg Jane Williams j2-1-1 (126) 118 128
Saint des Saints (Ballingarry){9}(0.71) 1/0 Bal Celtique 3rd Prix Predicateur (L,57.0), Auteuil 2016
The only winning hurdler in the contest, Saint Segal is very much the ‘class act’ on account of his finishing runner-up in the Grade 1 Finale Hurdle at Chepstow last month on only his second racecourse appearance. Those unraced prior making their debuts in juvenile hurdles have a first time strike rate of just 2.25%. Nevertheless, prior to his Bangor outing, the figures for those trained by the Williams’s at George Nympton (including Me Voici and Reve de Sivola) is a slightly more respectable 4.08%, and for French breds, 4.35%. The latter is especially pertinent for Saint Segal as he is bred along traditional lines for the discipline. Costing €51,000 as a two-year-old, his 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. Introduced 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. 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 began on a solid foundation and the sharp step up in class was not seen as unrealistic given that he started the 13/2 fifth favourite. Held up in midfield, Saint Segal was slightly big at the first, but otherwise jumped soundly and made good headway to enter the straight in a prominent position. Alongside the winner jumping the penultimate, the pair both clipped and flattened the last (usual two out) without losing much momentum. Saint Segal wandered somewhat under pressure and had no answer to Porticello’s strong finish. Nevertheless, he had done enough to hold off the third by three quarters of a length with the remainder over seven lengths behind. His place in the line-up fully justified, Saint Segal’s effort ranks within the top five seen in the British division to date and he shaped very much as though further is to come. The lack of obvious pace might be an issue, but it was a steady affair in which Saint Segal got off the mark at Bangor. Although the opposition he is not without ability or potential, most have questions to answer and the credentials of Saint Segal are solid. The yard, which likes to send good horses to Warwick, is in good form and with the talented Chester Williams taking off three pounds, it would not be absurd to suggest that Saint Segal has a good stone in hand of his rivals.

Dragon’s Fire bg Alex Hales f8-1-0 (68) 76 j2-0-0 (-) 55 63
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 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 over Christmas, 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. He was the subject of quite considerable support a fortnight ago at Ludlow, sent off at 16/1 having started the day at 100/1. However, while there was no complaint to be made about his jumping, he found himself outpaced along the back (having initially tracked the leaders in fourth) before fading in the straight to finish a tired fifty-five length eighth of ten. Dragon’s Fire is a fluent hurdler and conditions may be more in his favour here. However, his lack of stamina looks critical even in these circumstances.

Hasty Parisian chg Milton Harris b2-0-1 (-) 87
Champs Elysees (Vinnie Roe){1-t}(3.00) 2/1 Paisley Park 1st Stayers’ Hurdle (G1), Cheltenham 2019
Milton Harris has enjoyed a fantastic season in the division with six juveniles amassing nine wins between them, giving him a winner to runner rate of 66.67%, and a strike rate of 32.14%. Hasty Parisian is set to be his first juvenile hurdler of the campaign to come from the bumper field. While such horses have a poor first time strike rate of 2.25%, Milton Harris did saddle Jacamar to make a winning jumps bow at Wincanton a couple of years ago. It was here that Hasty Parisian first saw the racecourse early last month, supported from a morning price of 9/2 to start the 3/1 favourite. Settled towards the rear of a steady moving bunch comprised of several flat breds, he was able to stay on during the closing stages without having the pace to get involved, finishing just under five lengths behind the winner in fourth. The subsequent form has not been strong, but Hasty Parisian did show improvement in a similar contest at Exeter on New Year’s Day. Fairly uneasy in the market, going from 11/2 to 7/1, he settled in midfield where the pace was very sedate once again. He made his challenge turning for home and despite wandering under pressure, was able to keep tabs on the leading pair before being outpaced in the closing stages; beaten two lengths into third with eight lengths between himself and the remainder. Bred very much for a career over jumps, sire Champs Elysees has yet to produce any star juveniles but his winner to runner rate is a very respectable 25.45%. The damline is inundated with jumping talent with his uncle, the top staying hurdler Paisley Park, being the most notable relative. Dam Va’vite won four times over hurdles, the first coming as a six-year-old, before producing Presenting Yeats and Mr Yeats; each multiple winners for Milton Harris. Alongside Paisley Park, Va’vite is a half-sister to four other winners in Present Value, Henry King, Mr Grey and Society Shares. Her uncle, Priests Leap, won consecutive runnings of the Theyestes Chase while her cousin, Unexpected Depth, was a useful staying handicap hurdler. Legionar is reportedly the star bumper horse in the yard, but Hasty Parisian has still run to a respectable level. He should make for an intriguing recruit, although his pedigree and the way he has shaped in his races suggest that this contest will probably be too sharp for him first time.

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 Warwick is zero wins, but eight places from eight 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 decidedly lean patch 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.

Lifesjustaflicker bg Sophie Leech j1-0-0 (-) – 0
Hot Streak (Nayef){14-c}(2.00) 1/0 Pitter Patter 6th Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (Listed), Taunton 2014
https://www.equidia.fr/chevaux/lifesjustaflicker
The fast and precocious Hot Streak would not be anybody’s first thought when it comes to prospective jumps stallions, and though Nayef was a fairly capable sire in the division, his record as a damsire has been quite modest to date. Nevertheless, Lifesjustaflicker, a 3,500 guineas yearling, is out of a fairly useful novice hurdler. Sophie Leech, who has a solid winner to runner rate in the division of 22.22%, and a clear round rate of 100% from fifty-nine runners, splits her runners between Britain and France. It was the latter country where Lifesjustaflicker made his racecourse debut just before Christmas, in a 3300m conditions race at Cagnes-sur-Mer. Sent off the 8.1 fifth favourite of nine under James Reveley, Lifesjustaflicker raced keenly in a prominent position before being restrained to track the leaders on the second circuit. He moved back into second turning for home but faded and was detached before they straightened up; calling it a day just after the penultimate flight. Lifesjustaflicker did not impress with his jumping as while never in danger of hitting one, he was given to hopping and being overly cautious. He did show up for a long way, but his hurdling technique needs to improve and even if the questions posed by his flat finish have been resolved, he needs to prove his class and stamina for this type of contest.

Thunder Ahead bg Alan King f8-1-2 (78) 82 j1-0-0 (-) 78 84
Dark Angel (Oasis Dream){1-l}(1.00) 4/1 King In Waiting 2nd Prelude Hurdle (128), Market Rasen 2011
Since 2007, thirty-two horses have gone juvenile hurdling having started their careers with Harry Dunlop. Nine of those won during their initial campaigns giving a decent winner to runner rate of 28.13%. Peter Grimes and Our Phylli Vera each joined Alan King, with the former scoring first-time out at Bangor in 2009; incidentally, the same contest Saint Segal won this season. The latest to make the switch between the two yards was Thunder Ahead, who fetched 35,000 guineas at the Tattersalls Autumn sale. Making his racecourse debut at Linfield in early March, it took Thunder Ahead seven attempts to get off the mark. Though there were hints of temperament, he generally ran to a consistent level and he was able to break his duck on his penultimate flat outing which came in a Wolverhampton handicap off 74 over an extended twelve furlongs. Tracking the leaders from the outset, Thunder Ahead cruised into the lead on the turn out of the back and had kicked a few lengths clear on entering the straight. The rest of the field attempted to close, but Thunder Ahead had built up a decent cushion and had three quarters of a length in hand at the line. He was out eleven days later at Newbury, but while he travelled well into the straight, the heavy ground and additional furlong and a half proved too much and he faded to beat just one home. A switch to hurdles beckoned, although while he joined one of the strongest yards in the division, his pedigree is not ideal for the game. With his winner to runner rate of 15.69%, and improvement rate of 46.43%, Dark Angel just about has a passable profile for a sire. However, less can be said of Oasis Dream’s prowess as a damsire with corresponding figures of 8.33% and 33.33% respectively; and one must go back to the fourth dam before finding winning hurdlers in Lion On The Prowl and King in Waiting. His trainer and flat form were enough to send him off the 11/4 second favourite for his hurdling bow at Wetherby four weeks ago. However, he failed to justify the relative confidence. Racing keenly and held up towards the rear, he never made any real headway and finished a thirteen length fifth of seven. He was also novicey at every hurdle, giving the flights too much air, making poor shapes and being slow to get away. Furthermore, the sectionals were atrocious, and little positive can be said of the subsequent form coming out of the race. Thunder Ahead is entitled to improve for the experience and may be more at home around Warwick on good to soft. Nevertheless, he has plenty of questions to answer and the yard has been in better form.

Winterwatch bg Harry Fry f6-2-3 (79) 86 j1-0-0 (-) 0 0
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 was a month overdue. Lord Of England has had three winning juveniles 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 was plenty to like about Winterwatch’s profile in terms of form, breeding and connections ahead of his hurdles debut earlier this month, which was reflected in his starting the 16/5 second favourite. However, concerns over his inability to settle came immediately to the fore. Fighting for his head in the rear of the field, Winterwatch was spectacularly big over the first two flights before jinking violently to get rid of Sean Bowen at the first. The yard is in good form (even if it is yet to win with a flat sourced recruit in the sphere), and the jockey is content to get back on Winterwatch. However, any enthusiasm would be considerably outweighed by caution at this juncture.

tl;dr
Saint Segal – Bred to be a French juvenile hurdler. Made winning debut at Bangor and proved his place in Finale Hurdle with a good second. Sets very clear form standard, open to further improvement, and should not be undone by conditions or complexion of race.

Dragon’s Fire – Fair winner on the flat but questions over stamina have been compounded by evidence from two juvenile contests. Jumps well but will likely need a glacial tempo here.

Hasty Parisian – With strong yard and reasonable form in bumpers. Record of ex-NHF juveniles not strong but yard has saddled such a winner first time. Bred to make a very capable staying hurdler and shapes as though this may be too sharp.

Jaramillo – Much the best of these on flat and left Roger Varian for 100,000gns. Temperament and pedigree are not entirely solid and trainer’s recent form has been modest.

Lifesjustaflicker – Inexpensive, flat bred yearling who made debut in Cagnes-sur-Mer hurdles race last month. Showed up for long way but folded very tamely and not a fluent jumper. Trainer has decent record in sphere but much to prove here.

Thunder Ahead – Good class winner on flat for Harry Dunlop and despite patchy pedigree, not unfancied for hurdling debut with top yard at Wetherby last month. However, barely put a foot right in what appears to be a very poor race and stable not at its strongest.

Winterwatch – Fairly useful dual winner on flat for Andrew Balding and looked a compelling recruit to the sphere. However, looked an absolute eccentric on hurdling debut before bucking off his rider at the third.

Outstanding prospects
1. Saint Segal
Reasonable prospects
2. Hasty Parisian
Feasible prospects
3. Winterwatch
Moderate prospects
4. Jaramillo
5. Thunder Ahead
6. Lifesjustaflicker
7. Dragon’s Fire
Negligible prospects
.

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Wetherby - 27th January - Preview
Wetherby is set to host its sixth juvenile hurdle of the season. The likes of Porticello, Skycutter and Battle Angel have already won at the West Yorkshire venue, but while only a class four, the upcoming contest could be a useful affair. Traditionally a fairly reasonable event, the most accomplished juveniles to come out of previous editions were Devilment and Lil Rockerfeller. First and third in 2015, the former would finish second in the Anniversary Hurdle while the latter would win a good handicap at Sandown and go on to become one of the most popular hurdlers in training. Of this year's participants, Graystone is arguably unlucky to not be a dual winner coming into the race, Message Personnel and Illico des Places are looking to supplement their wins in France, Piecederesistance won on the flat for Andre Fabre before finishing third on his hurdles debut in November, Johnny Boom won thrice in northern handicaps before a reasonable first run over jumps at Newcastle. The field is completed by newcomer Fleurman who possesses an intriguing profile and a Triumph Hurdle entry. Winning DIs at the course are just lower than average, and stamina demands at the venue can be particularly exacerbated on testing ground - as per the 0.75 median, 0.76 mean for this particular contest (although the ground this week should be firmer than usual). Wetherby can also be a tricky place to jump around for juveniles with its clear round rate of 94.55% 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, good to soft in places, with the possibility of some light rain overnight. Six are set to face the starter but with one confirmed frontrunner, and another couple who might want to make the running, the pace should be an honest one. 

Triumph Odds
Graystone 66/1 (55)
Message Personnel 66/1 (70)
Fleurman 80/1 (34)

Graystone rgg Lucy Wadham f11-3-3 (75) 80 j4-1-2 (121) 117 125
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. Errors persisted in his round, 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 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 and the fourth. 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. He set a clear standard on hurdles form on his most recent outing at Taunton towards the end of last month, but was deposed as favourite by the Paul Nicholls newcomer, Irish Hill. Still racing freely, Graystone went into a clear lead, posting his best round of jumping in the process. His rivals were closing on him as they entered the straight, but to the eye, they did not appear to be doing so at a sufficient rate to reign in the leader and Graystone went as low as 1.03 in-running. However, having hurdled well to the penultimate flight, it was here that he made his first serious error; getting in very close without lifting his legs. His second error coming at the last where he skewed in the air, landed steeply before stumbling to the ground. The consensus is that he would most likely have won the race, although along with the sharp decline in his jumping, it is also worth noting that the final furlong was completed over two seconds slower than the previous. Even accounting for the fact that the final furlong featured no hurdles, the comparative times set by the all-the-way winner in the fillies' race later on the card suggested more equilibrium could have been expected. He was withdrawn on the evening of an intended engagement at Ascot last weekend, reportedly due to an infection, but is presumably healthy enough for this task. Graystone sets the standard on bare form, is racing on fair terms, represents a yard in fair form and is entitled to the according respect. It is also possible that he might get another uncontested lead. However, there is a chance this could be spoiled by either Illico des Places or Piecederesistance, and even if he does get his own way up front, Wetherby is a more demanding circuit than Warwick or Taunton for a front runner near the boundaries of his stamina. 

Illico des Places bg Tom Symonds j3-1-0 (-) 62 94 (FR119)
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 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. His latest hurdles outing came seventeen days ago at Ludlow where he appeared to have the credentials and conditions for a big run. However, having started the day at 3/1, he opened at 11/2 in the ring before drifting out to 13/2 before the off. Extraordinarily, he was dropped right out at the rear and still had a tremendous amount to do leaving the back. Though he made some headway late on, it was only to challenge for a remote third; a battle which he ceded to a much longer priced opponent. This strategy did little to quell his headstrong nature and his hurdling was rather tight at times. If more appropriate tactics are applied then a fair performance cannot be dismissed. However, it is not difficult to be cynical and expect a more involved showing in handicap company. 

Message Personnel bg Dan Skelton j3-1-0 (128) 117 122
Saint Des Saints (Muhtathir){4-l}(0.50) 2/1 Wonderful Charm 3rd Peterborough Chase (G2), Huntingdon 2014
https://www.equidia.fr/chevaux/message-personnel-1
Prior to this campaign, Jean-Philippe Dubois had been the source of four juvenile hurdlers in Britain and Ireland, two of whom were winners, and another being last season's useful Saint Sam - now an exciting novice chaser. His two exports to date this season were one time Triumph fancy, In This World, and Message Personnel; each of whom joined Dan Skelton. Making his debut in an ordinary contest at Chateauxbriant in the middle of May, Message Personnel brought up the rear in a steadily ran contest and was rather caught flat footed when the tempo increased on the second circuit. The winner, Illico des Places, was long gone by the time he reached the straight and while ground was made on the runner-up, Message Personnel was unable to get the better of his third placed stablemate. Nevertheless, he jumped well apart from getting slightly close to a couple and he was able to make amends next time in a slightly more valuable event at Dieppe on the first of July. Racing again in the rear but keeping tabs on the leaders, Message Personnel travelled well and made smooth headway on the turn for home. He was within a couple of lengths of the leaders at the penultimate hurdle where his task was made easier by the fall of the favourite who in turn, hampered the second favourite. Notwithstanding, he ran on well to beat what was left, quickening on the run-in to emerge the three-and-a-half length winner. Given the incident at two out, it is difficult to get a good grasp of the form but there were two previous winners involved at the time and the runner-up has gone on to become a fairly useful handicapper. Dan Skelton has a strong record in the sphere with a winner to runner rate of 38.37% contributed to by the likes of Allmankind, Bedrock and Nube Negra. Saint des Saints is more given to producing chasing types, but his record with juveniles is still very strong with 32.43% of his British and Irish juveniles being winners including Monmiral, Djakadam and Fusil Raffles. Classy chaser Wonderful Charm (2/1) would be the most esteemed of the relatives on the nearby damline, but his dam and third dam were each able to show good form at three and four years old and Muhtathir's broodmares have a 30% winner runner rate in the sphere. Message Personnel made his British debut at Cheltenham nearly seven weeks ago. He had been vying for favouritism during the morning before ultimately starting the 10/3 second favourite. Held up in midfield off a steady tempo, Message Personnel did not post an assured round of jumping. Clipping the top of the first, he was steady at the second, got in very close to the third, big over the fourth, close again at the fifth and skewed over two out. He was also outpaced when the race developed at the bottom of the hill and having found a gear on the approach the last, his being carried left in mid-air at the flight cost him a few strides and he would merely plug on for ten length fifth. The form has worked out quite well, the second and third each winning next time, and his performance would leave him with little to find here. The likely honest pace should suit him much better and if he can jump more like he had done in France, he ought to improve a fair amount on his Cheltenham showing. The Skelton yard has had a winner during each of its four race days and its strike rate with juveniles at Wetherby stands at 42.86%; including its sole runner in this contest, Solo Saxophone, who won the race in 2018. Message Personnel is perhaps more a longer-term prospect, but the stable's record at Wetherby is very encouraging and the anticipated improvement on his Cheltenham effort would put him right in the mix. 

Fleurman grg Olly Murphy f7-2-1 (85) 91
Mastercraftsman (Montjeu){11-a}(1.09) 3/1 Ravenswood 1st 2m6f Handicap Hurdle (128), Ayr 2002
Ralph Beckett has supplied fifteen winning juvenile hurdlers from fifty-five since 2004/05, although the winner to runner rate of 27.27% does overshadow the improvement rate of just 25%. The sales saw two of his fetch six figures for the first time. Zinc White has work to do if he is to justify his £310,000 outlay at Goffs London, although this does take some pressure off Fleurman, who fetched 130,000 guineas at the Tattersalls Autumn Sale. Gelded before making his debut at Kempton in December 2020, where he was patently green, Fleurman beat just one rival home in novice stakes during the spring at Epsom and Windsor. Nevertheless, stepped up to a mile and four on good to soft ground, Fleurman showed marked improvement in a Salisbury handicap off a mark of 64. Racing in third, some way behind the front two, Fleurman found himself outpaced as the pack engulfed the tearaways half a mile from home. Nevertheless, he stayed on well to lead inside the final furlong to win by a length, and two and a quarter. He was next seen a month later in a handicap over the St. Leger distance at Doncaster. He once again found himself outpaced on the turn for home, but made a strong looking challenge at the distance and while ultimately coming off second best in a messy battle, he lost little esteem in defeat with the pair nearly five lengths clear of the third. A return to Salisbury in July saw a return to winning ways in another fourteen furlong handicap, this time off 73. Tracking the leader from an easy gallop, Fleurman eased to the front three furlongs for home and was not for catching as he ran on powerfully for an emphatic eleven length success. Margins of such nature would generally be viewed with scepticism, although the runner-up has maintained his form and the third was a winner next time out. Fleurman was unable to sustain his progress on his final outing; a class 2 handicap at York off 85. Notwithstanding, he was far from disgraced in his fifth placed finish having found himself outpaced before plugging on in the closing stages. After Tattersalls, he joined an Olly Murphy with a healthy winner to runner rate of 28.57%, and given the general quality of his flat recruits, a respectable 52.38% improvement rate. Fleurman’s mark of 85 is the highest brought from the flat by a Warren Chase juvenile hurdler, and there is further encouragement in the pedigree. The late Mastercraftsman is one of the most prolific sires of winning juveniles, counting twenty three since his first crop in 2014/15 including Mister Blueyes and Wolf Of Windlesham. Montjeu is a leading sire and grandsire and while he is not quite at the same level as a damsire, his broodmares still have a solid winner to runner rate of 20.90%. Though a nephew of Cheveley Park Stakes winner Millisle, there is still jumps ability on the damline. Uncle Love Marmalade placed over hurdles as a juvenile, the third dam produced three winning jumpers in Ravenswood, Soubriquet and Kris Green, while the fourth dam produced champion national hunt sire Old Vic. With a rating in the 95th percentile, assured stamina, good attitude, useful pedigree and a very capable trainer, Fleurman has plenty going for him in his profile. This is a tough contest first time, but he does receive weight from the principals, and if he jumps well first time out (Olly Murphy has a 100% clear round rate from twenty-eight newcomers) then he comes into the race with a very live chance. 

Johnny Boom chg Brian Ellison f11-3-2 (69) 75 j1-0-0 (-) 89 96
New Bay (Invincible Spirit){11}(1.77) 2/1 District Attorney 2nd 2m1f Handicap Hurdle (84), Sedgefield 2014
While a BHA mark of 69 is perfectly adequate for juvenile hurdling, Johnny Boom has the most to find here in terms of pure ratings. Notwithstanding, after a low-key start, he developed a solid profile on the flat for Richard Fahey. His career started in mid-January with four runs at Southwell coming in the space of a month. He was gelded after the third outing and ran a fair race to finish midfield off 51 on his handicap debut. Given a two-month break, he reached the frame in a mile handicap at Redcar and a step up to ten furlongs saw him readily get off the mark at Beverley in June. Johnny Boom handily defied a six pound penalty in a similar contest at Yarmouth and while he had excuses when well beaten at Beverley, resumed winning ways at Pontefract in early August off 62; pulling out more to fend off a fast finisher. Though green at the start of his career, Johnny Boom matured a fair deal over the summer months and had also shown versatility insofar as conditions are concerned with wins on good to firm and soft. His last outing for Richard Fahey came at Newcastle in September where he made considerable ground in the straight, and after a three-way battle in the final half-furlong, was denied by a bob of the head. Those who leave Richard Fahey have a solid 20.83% winner to runner rate which increases to 33.33% for the juveniles joining Brian Ellison. Fetching 38,000 guineas at the Tattersalls Autumn Sale, Johnny Boom became the most expensive of those making the short trip from Musley Bank to Norton. His pedigree is not overly compelling insofar as jumping is concerned. He represents the first crop of New Bay who has yet to have a winner in Britain or France, and though from the family of Martaline and Allmankind, his being a Dubawi relative of Oasis Dream standing at 1.62m is not the most attractive profile. The nearby damline is bereft of winning jumpers, with the closest being Beyond Conceit at 4/2. Johnny Boom's hurdling debut came in a warm introductory juvenile at a snowy Newcastle in late November. The shortest priced of the newcomers at 8/1, he raced keenly in the rear of the field before pulling himself into a more prominent position half-way. His jumping was decent to begin with, but he rather lost his confidence after being steady and close at the fifth. Though with the pack turning for home, he found himself outpaced at the distance before trailing home a twenty-one length last of six. He had a spin on the flat at Southwell just over a fortnight ago and while his finishing an eight-length last would be respectable were it a pipe opener, he was backed into 5/2 favouritism having started the day at 9/2. Johnny Boom is entitled to step up on his Newcastle outing and the yard does have a 16.67% strike rate with juveniles at Wetherby. However, he still has a fair amount to find in this company and the stable has been in stronger spells of form. 

Piecederesistance bg Micky Hammond f4-1-3 (40.0/88) 90 j1-0-1 (-) 88 85
Gleneagles (Footstepsinthesand){3-n}(0.66) 2/1 Derivative 1st 2m5½f Handicap Hurdle (111), Wincanton 2003
https://www.equidia.fr/chevaux/piecederesistance
The Prix As d'Atout is a two-year-old newcomers race held in September at Saint-Cloud. The legendary handler Andre Fabre won the race in 2016 with Trais Fluors who would finish second in the Prix Jean Prat the following year. Andre Fabre also won the race in 2018 with Influencer who, while not top class, was able to pick up a race at Longchamp before being sent to Dubai. Andre Fabre then won his third renewal in five years when, carrying the colours of Michael Tabor, Piecederesistance justified 2.9 favouritism to score by a cosy length and a quarter. Classic aspirations would abound, but such dreams were short lived as he failed to reward odds-on backers in a Compiegne conditions race the following month. Piecederesistance was seen twice during the Spring of 2021 and while not showing poor form when finishing third at Fontainebleau and Nancy, his headstrong nature was such that after a gelding operation, connections opted to let him go for €33,000 at the Arqana Summer Sale. There he joined Micky Hammond whose winner to runner rate is a fairly standard 19.48%, although none of the previous six sourced from the continent would win in the sphere. Second season jumps sire Gleneagles has had a couple of winning juveniles from twelve, although just one from six maintained their flat form over hurdles. The damline is more substantial as the second dam has produced four winning jumpers, headed by Derivative, with the third dam having three winners to her name including Legal Beagle. Boasting a decent enough pedigree and the strongest flat form by a considerable margin, Piecederesistance was well fancied to make a winning hurdles debut at Sedgefield in early November, backed in to 10/11 from a morning 6/4. He led the field from the outset and although he clipped the first three and pulled tremendously hard throughout, he approached the third last appearing to have the race at his mercy; trading as low as 1.32 in-running. However, he did not get high at the flight and scrambled on landing, pecking the ground with his left bum cheek. This cost him two places and considerable momentum, and though he rallied to get back within striking distance entering the straight, he had run his race after jumping two out and with a tired jump at the last, ultimately finished a sixteen length third. While it is quite likely he would have won but for his calamitous error, a horse of his conspicuous ability should have been able to win such a weak contest without mishap. Missing an engagement at Wetherby over Christmas with hives, Piecederesistance's return comes in a much stronger contest. There are races to be won with this talented animal, but there are considerable questions to answer regarding his temperament and he will likely find his feet with a handicap mark once he has sufficiently matured. 

tl;dr
Graystone - Fairly useful on flat and confirmed hurdling debut promise with a win at Warwick. Looked poised to double tally when falling at last at Taunton but was probably tired at the time. Has the strongest form, yard in fair nick and fairly weighted, but possibly vulnerable on this track.

Illico des Places - Looked promising when making winning debut in French provinces where he had Message Personnel behind. Ran too freely for own good at Kempton but subject to bizarre ride at Ludlow where he was dropped out but still pulled hard. Cynicism aside, has questions to answer.

Message Personnel - Improved from first to second outing to win a fair race at Dieppe. Nicely bred though potentially more a chasing type. Race not run to suit on British debut at Cheltenham but will likely have learned plenty and represents yard with fine record at Wetherby.

Fleurman - Sole newcomer in the field. Dual winner for Ralph Beckett and brings mark of 85. Compelling pedigree, assured stamina and good attitude. Gets weight and could go very well in likely event he jumps first time out. 

Johnny Boom - Lowest rated on flat but still won three times in sphere, showing versatility and developing a decent attitude. Not the most obvious pedigree and outpaced on hurdling debut at Newcastle. Well backed but finished last on recent spin on the flat. 
 
Piecederesistance - One time classic hopeful for Andre Fabre but while form after winning debut was not bad, his refusal to settle saw him sold for €33,000. Reasonable pedigree and while still pulling hard, looked likely to win weak Sedgefield contest on hurdling debut but for serious error three out. Has ability but whether he can apply seem looks questionable in this company.

Strong prospects
1. Message Personnel
2. Fleurman
Reasonable prospects
3. Graystone
Feasible/Moderate prospects
4. Illico des Places
5. Piecederesistance
6. Johnny Boom
Negligible prospects
.

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Probably underestimated Graystone although he was helped by the breather before home, PDR’s withdrawal and IdP not pressing him. Fleurman never looked happy after his mistake at the first and Message Personnel didn’t have any excuses and looks a longer term project as per previous suspicions.

Regarding Saturday, as exciting as the Cheltenham race looks, I will be going to Doncaster tomorrow so while I will endeavour to get a preview done for the race, there is a small chance that it may be delayed or worse... 

The recent proliferation of pattern class national hunt races for fillies and mares has not overlooked the juvenile hurdling division. Doncaster has often close to the forefront of such developments in this regard. When the mares programme was expanded during the 2007/08 season, Doncaster would host the first Grade Two over two miles at its Great Yorkshire Chase meeting. As well as hosting the second oldest extant juvenile contest restricted to fillies, its maiden during December 2019 saw the introduction of the second fillies listed contest after Aintree; preceding the handicap at Cheltenham's April meeting by a few months. Entering its fourth year, this race has not yet established itself as a highlight of the racing calendar, but it has been developing from strength to strength. Last season saw the first participants at the Cheltenham festival, albeit with the first two, Her Indoors and Talking About You, finishing down the field in the Fred Winter and Triumph Hurdle respectively. This year's edition looks to be of a comparable standard and is essentially a repeat of the Aintree contest early last month with the first, third and fourth (all Irish trained) reopposing. Though no filly has landed the double, Aintree's race has been responsible for all three winners of this contest, although French import La Renommee and recent course winner Galah should add another dimension to proceedings. 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 90.02% completion rate. The clear round rate of 97.03% is also a fair one although hurdling debutants can find the circuit trickier than usual. Just the one likely front runner is set to face the starter. Her having previously done so at a measured tempo suggests a similar pace scenario here. The going is described as good, good to soft in places. In lieu of any rain, selective watering is scheduled although the anticipated breeze will probably mitigate any real softening of the turf.

Triumph Odds
White Pepper 33/1 (38)
Sea Sessions 50/1 (60)
La Renommee 66/1 (75)
Six Feet Apart 66/1 (75)

Sea Sessions bf Ross O'Sullivan f8-1-3 (66) 73 j3-1-2 (-) 114 117
Territories (Daylami){16-e}(1.40) 2/1 Pigeon Island 1st Dovecote Novices' Hurdle (G2), Kempton 2008
Trained by Ross O'Sullivan from the outset, Sea Sessions finished no closer than five lengths to the winner during her first four outings. A drop into claiming company saw her finish second at Fairyhouse in late May, before going one better at the same venue in early July; whereafter she was subject to a friendly claim of €15,000. Though contested on soft then good ground, both efforts came over ten furlongs with comparable form shown on each outing. She appeared to be crying out for a sterner stamina test and while beaten into fourth at Navan, had no issues with the half-mile increase in trip. Her final flat start came when second at Killarney over eleven furlongs off 64 in early October, making her hurdles debut at Punchestown ten days later. From the first crop of classy miler Territories, her sire's being by Invincible Spirit and standing at just 15.3½hh is not conducive to a productive jumps career. Nevertheless, along with being half-sister to winning handicapper Tomorrow's Angel, the dam is a full-sister to Pigeon Island, and half-sister to other winning jumpers Dalmo and On Alert. Sea Sessions debut came in a fair contest featuring three previous winners, but she still attracted support in the market; starting at 11/2 having been 10/1 earlier in the day. Keen early and held up towards the rear, Sea Sessions had to jump over a fallen rival after the first, but apart from getting tight at the fifth and skewing over the penultimate flight, put in a decent round. In midfield but still some way off the pace leaving the back, Sea Sessions was in touch turning for home and finished best of all to grab second and get to within half a length of the winner on the run-in. Her next appearance came at the end of the month in a five runner contest at Down Royal. She had actually backed into 5/4 joint favouritism with Fil Dor, although while she was the only runner to attempt to follow the winner three furlongs from home, her pursuit was a vain one to the tune of sixteen lengths. Nevertheless, she did hold on for second from subsequent dual scorer Inca Prince, and her round of jumping was, save for a couple of minor errors, sound once again. Sea Sessions was able to gain her first win over hurdles at in the listed fillies' contest at Aintree early last month where she was started joint fourth in the betting at 8/1. Held on bottomless ground at a sedate gallop, Sea Sessions raced quite keenly in midfield. Though not showing explosive acceleration, she found herself a couple of lengths behind the lead at the last where she made her only real mistake of the race. The race to the line was conducted in slow motion and though wandering under pressure, settled the race when getting her head in front at the half-furlong marker. While this performance was respectable from a form and jumping perspective, the sectionals paint the contest in a very poor light and the race would likely have little bearing on future events save for those held in similar conditions. Notwithstanding, the overall profile of Sea Sessions is a fair one and though very much at ease on a ploughed field, she also has good ground form on both codes and should not be readily dismissed as a plodder. 

Cherokee Dance bbf Ian Williams f11-1-6 (70) 75
Honor Code (Cherokee Run){9-f}(3.00) 5/3 Tom Mix 2nd Prix Count Schomberg (L,55.0), Auteuil 2016
Starting her career with David Simcock, for whom she managed a Newcastle second from four outings, Cherokee Dance missed a couple of engagements before joining Ian Williams for 11,000 guineas at the tattersalls July Sale. She found only one too good on her first run for her new trainer over a mile and a half at Newcastle in September. Though disappointing on her first turf outing next time, she followed a close up finish at Kempton by breaking her duck at Wolverhampton in mid-December. Racing off 63 and weak in the market, drifting from a morning 10/1 to 28/1, Cherokee Dance tracked the leaders and kicked on turning for home to win by two and a quarter lengths twice. She has since been kept busy, finishing a creditable second in three handicaps without any excuses or vices. The American bred Cherokee Dance is from the second crop of Honor Code. Of the eleven stallion sons of A.P. Indy to try with juvenile hurdlers, only three have produced winners to date. The damline is bereft of jumpers until Tom Mix at 5/3, although Cherokee Run is the broodmare sire of winning juvenile Unanimite. Ian Williams has a fair winner to runner rate in the division of 19.35%, which increases to 37.50% when isolating fillies. However, his first time strike rate is just 4.08% with British flat recruits and none of his seven juveniles at Doncaster have finished in the frame. Furthermore, while her mark of 70 is respectable for the division, all but one of Cherokee Dance's opponents have already attained higher ratings over hurdles. 

Galah bf Milton Harris f12-4-5 (72) 83 j3-1-2 (112) 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 (retained 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. Galah's latest appearance came in a fillies' maiden at this venue four weeks ago where she set a clear standard and was accordingly sent off the even money favourite. Held up towards the rear off a modest tempo, Galah only had one behind turning for home where the leader stole a march. Nevertheless, she was able to make steady headway in the straight and after jumping into the lead at the last, edged out a length victory on the run-in. Given the way the race unfolded, the performance can not be said to match her efforts at Newcastle or Cheltenham. Nevertheless, she put in a clean round of jumping and the three previous course winners taking in this contest have amongst them win and a place. Galah does have a few pounds to find with a few of these, and she will not want to find herself caught flat footed. Nevertheless, she jumps well and knows her way around Doncaster so a respectable showing can be anticipated. 

La Renommee bf Richard Newland f1-0-0 j2-1-1 (-) 116 115
Doctor Dino (Ballingarry){3-d}(0.71) 1/0 Grande Cavale 1st 3400m 4yo Fillies Maiden Chase, Ecommoy 2011
https://www.equidia.fr/chevaux/la-renommee
Dr Richard Newland is a trainer whose record with juvenile hurdlers is a solid one. Since his first foray into the sphere in the 2009/10 season, his winner to runner rate stands at 40.91%, and he has yet to saddle a faller or unseat from eighty-two runs. The bulk of his recruits were bought at sales having raced on the flat in Britain or Ireland. However, three of his juveniles brought jumps experience from France with Katpoli winning during his first campaign, and Rose Sea Has and Rikoboy going on to land chases having previously ran over the larger obstacles in the country of their birth. Le Renommee, who privately changed hands for €120,000 during the Arqana Autumn sale, has yet to tackle fences in public but very much has the profile of a chaser. Initially with Ettienne Leenders, the source of winning juveniles Dandy Mag and Ronde de Nuit, La Renommee first saw the racecourse in a 2900m fillies’ maiden at Clairefontaine in August where she finished fifth of ten. Her hurdling debut came the following month at Les Sables-d’Olonne in a 3450m conditions hurdle held under floodlights. Making all, she raced quite keenly and jumped big and to her right in the early stages. With a gap between her rivals, she started getting in tight to her hurdles but was mostly fluent. The field closed on her turning for home, but La Renommee though she edged right under pressure, was always doing enough and passed the post two and a half lengths clear of the rest. There were only four finishers and the runner-up was moderate next time, although the third did score next time from a subsequent winner of a quite valuable contest. La Renommee’s second hurdles outing came in the Prix Pre Catelan at Auteuil. The 3500m contest is a conditions race for fillies with two or less hurdles runs to their names and its history is fairly ordinary. None of the four exports from the race would win as juveniles although Utopie des Bordes (2nd 2011) and Benie des Dieux (4th 2014) would eventually be useful sorts long term. Ahead of only one in the market, starting at 13/1, La Renommee was keen once again while held up in the rear, but was much neater in her jumping. Though the pace was steady, she found herself rather detached on the turn for home. Though she made considerable ground to eventually finish second by a short neck, her case was helped when the favourite fell at the last, and the new leader did everything in her power to throw the race away in a slow motion finish. Flattered to finish so close to the winner, she is better measured against the third, a neck behind, who had previously won an ordinary Toulouse contest, and was well beaten when next seen at Auteuil. The form is ordinary and the sectionals were slower across the board when compared to the colts and geldings division of the contest. Le Renommee is capable of being competitive in ordinary company during the coming months, but she can be viewed more favourably as a chasing prospect. Doctor Dino does have a strong record with juvenile hurdlers, but is capable of getting good chasers such as Le Bague au Roi; who also happens to be La Renommee’s cousin. Dam Grande Cavale won a four-year-old chase, uncle Walt was a decent staying chaser, auntie Midnight Theatre a winning pointer, while Clan Royal (3/1), Monty’s Pass (5/5) and Harbour Pilot (5/5) also appear on the damline. There are some relatives who came to hand earlier in Plaisir du Roy (2/1), Reine Angevine (2/2) and Roboratif (3/1), although on balance and racecourse evidence, Le Renommee is probably one for the longer term. Particularly as she has a three month absence to overcome and is unlikely to find this contest run to suit.

Six Feet Apart bf Joseph Patrick O'Brien f2-0-1 (-) 79 j3-1-0 (-) 111 112
Mount Nelson (Arcano){8-c}(3.00) 2/1 Rainbow Peak 2nd 2m½f Handicap Hurdle (135), Aintree 2014
Not seeing the racecourse until September last year, Six Feet Apart made her debut in a nine furlong maiden at Punchestown. Lukewarm in the market at 12/1, she raced some way off the pace towards the rear and entered the straight with only three behind her. Doing her best work late on, she gained five places inside the final furlong to finish a seven and a half length third; splitting a pair of next time out winners. On the second of her two flat outings, she was beaten roughly the same distance when seventh at the Curragh, drifting in the market beforehand and fading inside the closing stages. A switch to hurdles came at the start of November and it is a career for which she is feasibly bred. Though prior to her jumps bow, Mount Nelson had only two winning juveniles from seventeen, although most were moderate on the flat and 45.45% of them were able to improve for the switch to hurdles. From the family of Celtic Swing (3/1), Six Feet Apart is a niece of winning hurdlers Rainbow Peak and Toss The Caber. Though uneasy during the morning of her introduction in a Fairyhouse maiden, Six Feet Apart was backed into 10/3 second favouritism in the ring. Racing prominently throughout, Six Feet Apart reached at the first and sixth but otherwise put up a fluent round of hurdling first time. Travelling best at the distance, she cleared the last with a length lead and was able to double that margin in the final strides. The form was no better than fair, with fourth placed Doctor Churchill gradually improving afterwards, but it was close enough to her Punchestown performance and she was professional in her execution. She accompanied the Irish contingent for her next outing in the listed event at Aintree where she was a fairly solid 6/1 third favourite. Tucked in behind the leaders, she was in close enough order approaching the penultimate flight. However, it was here she made her only real error as she flattened the hurdle having barely lifted her feet. She rallied to some degree but would fold after the last before finishing a six and a quarter length fourth. Three weeks later, Six Feet Apart took another step up in class when contesting the Grade Two at Leopardstown on Boxing Day. Unfancied at 33/1, she was held up in touch off a steady gallop. She jumped well and had yet to be asked a question when getting slightly squeezed out on landing at two out. Though not a serious impediment, it did cost her some momentum as the race was hotting up and she was unable to get back on terms, finishing a fifteen and a half length fifth of seven. Joseph O'Brien's only visit to Doncaster as a trainer came when he saddled Lord Justice and Zig Zag to finish second and third in the 2016 Summit Hurdle. Six Feet Apart is still relatively unexposed and though she has ground to make up on a couple of rivals, these conditions ought to suit so a similar kind of effort is not unfeasible. 

Tiki Fire bf Neil King f7-0-3 (64) 70 j3-0-1 (92) 90 96
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 a fillies' contest at Fakenham, 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 early last 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 though easy in the market beforehand, she went into last month's Doncaster contest with feasible prospects. Racing in midfield, Tiki Fire was some way off the pace turning for home, but was still able to get first run on the reopposing Galah. Her round of jumping was not as clean, as she clipped the first, was untidy at the second, tight at the fourth and was not smoothly away from three out. Headed by Galah approaching the last, without having caught the runaway leader, she could only plug on behind the front pair, four and a half lengths clear of the remainder. Tiki Fire was not disgraced on this occasion and posted her best performance to date over hurdles. However, there is no reason why she might reverse placing with Galah and the yard's horses have not been running to form.  

White Pepper bf Gavin Cromwell f14-1-4 (82) 80 j4-2-1 (-) 123 121
Fast Company (Arcano){11-a}(1.67) 2/1 Jobekani 4th 2m Maiden Hurdle, Uttoxeter 2010
The most experienced of these on the flat and over hurdles, White Pepper also possesses the strongest form from either sphere. Her fourteen race flat career began in July 2020 and after finishing down the field in a trio of maidens, would twice reach the frame in Nursery handicaps at Down Royal and Gowran. A return to maiden company and a step up to ten furlongs last May saw her place at Sligo and Navan. However, it would not be until her thirteenth start that she would finally break her duck in a twelve furlong fillies' maiden at Tramore in mid-August. Starting the day at 13/2 in a field comprising of three others rated on the cusp of 80, White Pepper went as low as 7/4 during the exchanges before settling at 3/1 come post time. Tracking the leader for most of the contest, she was asked to make her challenge on the turn for home and having edged to the front inside the final furlong, would cross the line two and a half lengths to the good. There is little to be said of the subsequent form, and her participation in the Group Three March Stakes at Goodwood in August proved to be as overambitious as the 33/1 starting price suggested as she trailed in last of five. Following a month off the track, her attentions would turn to hurdling. While distantly related to Old Vic at 5/1, there is little hurdling form on the damline. Nevertheless, her late sire Fast Company has quite the record with juvenile hurdlers with a winner to runner rate of 40.74%, and an improvement rate of 69.57%. Gavin Cromwell has a solid winner to runner rate of 20.31%, but is very able at getting improvement over hurdles at a rate of 60.61%. White Pepper was the subject of strong support for her hurdling bow at Gowran Park in early October, opening the 10/3 joint second favourite having been 12/1 during the morning. She settled well while tracking the leaders on the outer, but was not the most fluent first time as she was big at the first, skewed at the second and close at the fourth and sixth. She found herself outpaced on the turn for home and did herself no favours when reaching badly at two out and skewing at the last. Nevertheless, she was able to keep on to finish just over four lengths behind in fifth. White Pepper was less fancied next time at Galway three weeks later, with several compelling newcomers seeing her start at 6/1. Nevertheless, with cheekpieces reapplied, she raced with more purpose up front, seeing off the challenger for her lead after passing the stands and going several lengths clear along the back. The field closed in on the cross section, but after a good jump at the penultimate flight, was clear again entering the straight before passing the post thirteen lengths to the good. She was slightly big and untidy over the first two, but was neat for the remainder of the race and though ran at comparable tempos, the winning time was faster than those set by the older novices Choice Of Words and Colonel Mustard. This performance saw her start the 6/4 favourite for the listed race at Aintree, but while she was able to dictate and look to hold every chance in the straight, she was steady before hitting the last which saw her lose her footing along with any momentum. She would fight on to the half-furlong marker, but called it a day once passed, finishing a three and a half length third. Though slightly disappointing, she was far from disgraced in a race where nobody came out looking brilliant. Her chance for redemption came at Fairyhouse in a useful looking contest where her starting price of 4/1 was trumped by Britzka (third to Fil Dor on Boxing Day) and a seemingly improved reopposing Iberique du Seuil, and matched by Feigh (third to Fil Dor at Fairyhouse). Disputing the lead early on, White Pepper went to the front turning into the back. While slightly tight on occasions, her quick hurdling saw her pull a few lengths clear. Though challenged when rounding the home bend, she was still travelling well within herself at the distance and went into a two length lead on the run to the last which she would hold up to the line. White Pepper has the strongest form on offer without having to concede any weight, and she looks unlikely to be inconvenienced by either the conditions or the tactical make up of this contest. 

tl;dr
Sea Sessions - Fair winner on flat and niece of useful Pigeon Island. Rewarded for promising seconds to Bell Ex One and Fil Dor with win in listed Aintree contest ahead of three of these. Form perhaps unreliable as conditions were quite irregular but has respectable overall profile and is not a one dimensional plodder.

Cherokee Dance - Has improved since joining Ian Williams and has ran with credit in busy month since breaking duck at Wolverhampton. Pedigree not most enticing and while yard has fair record with fillies in the division, first time strike rate not the strongest. Most rivals have already shown hurdling form that exceeds flat best.

Galah - Fairly useful four time winner for Ralph Beckett and has good pedigree for game. Confirmed promise of thirds at Newcastle and Cheltenham with course and distance win last month. Bit to find on form but jumps well and has course experience so can run respectably.

La Renommee - Winning hurdles debut under floodlights in France but flattered to finish so close at Auteuil in October where race fell apart. Joins good yard but bred to be a chaser over further and will likely find this too sharp first time.

Six Feet Apart - Late starter and lightly raced on flat. Feasibly bred for jumping and scored on hurdles bow at Fairyhouse in November. Folded late on at Aintree but while outclassed at Leopardstown on Boxing Day, was inconvenienced at crucial stage. Needs to improve but unexposed and can run with credit. 

Tiki Fire - Fair maiden on flat for Karl Burke and no show on hurdling debut at Fakenham. Better at Warwick and continued improvement behind Galah last month. No reason why she might reverse placings however and stable not in flying form. 

White Pepper - Most experienced of these on flat and hurdles and also most accomplished. Well backed on hurdling debut and did well to finish as close as she did given poor hurdling. Much better in cheekpieces on second outing when winning by thirteen lengths at Galway in good time. Slightly disappointing in mud at Aintree where final flight error cost her quite heavily, but back to best last time at Fairyhouse when comfortably accounting for Fred Winter types. Conditions and tactics unlikely to present any issues.

Strong prospects
1. White Pepper
Reasonable prospects
2. Sea Sessions
3. Galah
4. Six Feet Apart
Feasible prospects
5. La Renommee
Moderate/Negligible prospects
6. Tiki Fire
7. Cherokee Dance

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I'm sure I have plenty of thoughts on recent events but this week has seen a new shift pattern at work as well as the passing of a dear friend. Absolutely not fishing for sympathy btw since I have been processing it with the friends still here, the one that went back to the universe would find such things utterly unbecoming and I have no doubt in my mind that I will be decent soon enough. Just a disclaimer as to how I am not really with it at the moment. I have done a preview for the Scottish Triumph although it was written on autopilot so whether it is any good is anybody's guess... 

MUSSELBURGH (Scottish Triumph) - 6th February
Since Dalaram won a maiden on this card in 2004, en-route to taking Chepstow's Free Handicap in the Autumn, each subsequent juvenile hurdle at Musselburgh at this meeting has contained the word "Triumph". While a conditions race until attaining listed status in 2014, the contest was titled the "Triumph Trial". Though it had only really been a 'trial' in name only, Carlito Brigante, Sametegal and Hargam (winners in 2010, 2013 and 2015) would finish fourth, third and third again in their respective Triumph Hurdles. Orsippus, Starchitect and Project Bluebook reached the frame both here and in the Fred Winter with the first named joined by We Have A Dream in subsequent winners of the Anniversary at Aintree. Comfortably and consistently the strongest juvenile hurdle held in Scotland, its simpler title of "Scottish Triumph Hurdle", adopted in 2020, is a perfectly apt designation. This season's renewal features just one Triumph entry who also happens to be the sole newcomer to the sphere. Nevertheless, five previous winners with respectable form make for a competitive affair with the field rounded off by an Iain Jardine flat winner who attempts to keep the prize in Scotland for just the second time; James Ewart's Vosoges being the only previous Scottish trained winner.

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% and 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, those having their first run at the venue have won 56.25% of the races. Nevertheless, 31.25% of the winners have previously scored at the venue with such horses having a 59.41% strike rate. While there is just one confirmed front runner in the field, a couple of others have raced prominently in the past. Neither of these are short of pace so an honest gallop looks likely without there necessarily being a risk of an easy lead. The going has most recently been described as good, good to soft in places. However, the aniticpated steady showers, including those of a sleety nature, could see some ease in the ground before post time.

Triumph Odds
Innatendue 66/1 (80)

Fred Winter Odds
Malakahna 25/1
Calvados 33/1
Impulsive One 40/1
Inca Prince 50/1
Sonning 50/1

Bulls Aye chg Iain Jardine f10-1-1 (70) 80 j1-0-0 (-) 64 58
Intello (Shamardal){14-c}(1.07) 2/1 Think Ahead 1st 2m1f Maiden Hurdle, Cartmel 2017
The only Scottish trained runner in the field, Bulls Aye's sole flat success came at this venue where he landed a seven furlong novice auction stakes in September 2020. His best piece of form in that sphere came on his three-year-old return when he was third over the same trip in a June handicap off 78. However, while he was consistent enough on his remaining five flat outings last year, he was unable to reach the frame and appeared not to stay on his sole start beyond a mile. Given a break of a couple of months, his attention was switched to juvenile hurdling. Though the records of his sire and trainer in the sphere are no better than fair, Bulls Aye is a nephew of a couple of winning hurdlers. The dam is a full-sister to Think Ahead, and a half-sister to Duke Of Sonning who won as a juvenile in 2015. Making his jumps bow in an introductory hurdle at this venue in early December, Bulls Aye was sent off an unfancied 28/1. Taking a keen hold while restrained towards the rear, he made mistakes at the third and fourth before finishing a tailed off fifth of six. He was last seen at the start of the year when last of seven in a Newcastle handicap where he also raced keenly. Bulls Aye's flat class would be respectable in ordinary company. However, he appears to be stretched by even sharp tests over hurdles and his inability to settle will further compound an already difficult task here. 

Impulsive One bg Nicky Henderson f9-1-5 (79) 83 j4-2-2 (127) 116 129 
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 built on that foundation over hurdles with wins of twelve lengths at Plumpton, and ten lengths at Huntingdon on his first two outings. He was more impressive at Plumpton as he was able to settle better when given a lead. Nevertheless, there was much evidence of speed, neatness and enthusiasm on each occasion as he travelled strongly without ever looking in danger. 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 again forced to make his own running which was not ideal given his headstrong nature. Notwithstanding, his hurdling was his most polished to date 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 aforementioned's talented rider, Impulsive One emerged as best at the weights which in turn, is still one of the strongest British performances seen in the division this term. Having undergone a wind operation, he was able to match this performance in the Grade Two Summit Hurdle at Doncaster two months ago. The yielding ground was as soft as he had encountered to that point over hurdles and he opened at 8/1 in the morning. His price had halved by post time and while still fresh, he comparatively well and posted a very neat round of jumping. Tracking the leaders throughout, Impulsive One travelled strongly to make his challenge approaching the penultimate flight. However, though he jumped the last within a length of the lead, and passed Porticello shortly after, he could not match Knight Salute's turn of foot and lost second to Porticello just before the line. He was only beaten by a length and while he was in receipt of five pounds from the first two, the form was given a strong boost later in the month when Porticello landed the Grade One Finale Hurdle at Chepstow. Impulsive One was last seen at Wolverhampton thirty days ago racing in a fourteen furlong handicap off 80. He was unable to justify 6/4 joint favouritism, placing fourth of fifth, although the entire field did get first run on him from a slowly ran contest. Interestingly, he is set to be Nicky Henderson's sole representative at this meeting and this is a contest the yard has won three times from its five runners. Incidentally, his cousin El Picador won once and placed second twice at Musselburgh as a juvenile before unseating in the 2020 running of this contest. Impulsive One has the strongest form in this field, should get a lead, represents a trainer who likes to win this race and may find further improvement around this circuit. He will likely prefer the ground not to deteriorate but if it holds then his prospects would be strong. 

Inca Prince bg Ruth Jefferson bg f6-1-0 (84) 87 j5-2-2 (121) 122 125
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. 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 the next time. A move to Ruth Jefferson followed with his British debut coming in a fairly average contest at Catterick in December. 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. Inca Prince's returned eighteen days later for a fair contest at Musselburgh on New Year's Day where he was a steady 5/2 third favourite of six. He was fairly keen early but set a strong pace which saw him enter the back with a dozen length lead. Though challenged by Collingham between the final two flights, his rival faded on the run-in; leaving Inca Prince to score by a driven out seven lengths despite slowing during the final furlong. The runner-up was beaten fourteen lengths off 100 next time, but Collingham (who was probably below his best here) did finish second in the Chatteris Fen before easily winning at Catterick on Friday. Inca Prince does not have a great deal to find at the weights and has the benefit of experience around Musselburgh. Furthermore, he is unlikely to be pressed too strongly for the lead, nor should he be inconvenienced if the heavens open. 

Sonning grg Alan King f7-1-2 (76) 81 j4-1-2 (116) 110 115
The Gurkha (Rainbow Quest){8-d}(0.56) 3/2 Diakali 1st Prix Alain du Breil (G1), Auteuil 2013
Costing 80,000 guineas in the 2020 Craven Breeze-up Sale, Sonning was not disgraced when lacking experience in three outings as a two-year-old and made a winning return from his winter break at Beverley in mid-April. Running in a ten furlong, good to firm handicap off a mark of 71, Sonning raced off the pace and although it took a while for the penny to drop, he weaved his way through traffic before running on gamely to win by a neck from Mark Johnston's Happy. He failed to win during three further flat spins, but still got his head down to run to his best when denied second by a head at Leicester. From the first crop of The Gurkha, Sonning distaff side counts little in the way of immediate hurdlers, although the first one that shows is the top class Diakali at 3/2, who was also a very accomplished juvenile hurdler. Winning jumpers Diamond Frontier, Diamond d'Amour and Diamond Kut also appear at 3/2 while Divapour can be found at 3/3. Sonning started his hurdling career with a flat rating of 76, and those trained for both codes by Alan King, particularly with such a mark, generally do well in the division. There was strong market confidence before his Wincanton bow that saw him go from a morning show of 11/8 to 1/2 at the off. Attempting to separate Adrian Heskin's arms from his torso, Sonning was held up in touch for much of the contest. He was still travelling well enough turning into the straight, but an untidy leap two out cost him valuable momentum and with the race out of his reach after the last, he was allowed to coast home upwards of five lengths clear of the remainder. Sonning was able to get off the mark at the second time of asking at Catterick a month later. He started at evens in a contest where the course and good, good to firm ground will have been ideal. Taking a keen hold behind the leaders, he pulled himself to the front by the first in the back without taking himself into a clear lead. Travelling strongly, it was only in the straight where he began to assert and after a brief shake of the reins, he would coast home by eleven lengths. Very little can be said of the form but other than skewing a couple of times early on, satisfaction could be derived from a slick round of jumping. Sonning next appeared in mid-December at Plumpton for a novice hurdle against older horses. Easy during the morning exchanges before starting at 3/1, he was keen as he tracked the leaders early on, before moving into second passing the stands. Sonning went into the lead going down hill in the back and was still travelling well as he entered the straight. However, his hurdling became rather untidy and though he maintained his position when challenged between the final two, Sonning weakened after the last and finished third; five lengths behind the front pair. Returning to Wincanton eleven days ago, he made the switch to handicap company, running off 119. He was especially keen while held up towards the rear and was untidy on several occasions. Slight headway was made on the cross section but made no further impression prior to finishing a thirty-one length fourth. Sonning is capable of winning more races over hurdles and could find himself well handicapped if he finds a sharp enough contest in time. However, he will need to learn how to settle better in the meantime and the ground is unlikely to be dry enough for him here. 

Calvados bf John C McConnell f7-0-1 (52) 62 j5-1-3 (-) 111 115 
Vadamos (Nathaniel){5-h}(0.38) 3/1 Madrasa 1st 2m3½f Novices' Handicap Hurdle (95), Wetherby 2015
An improving, if still modest maiden on the flat, Calvados would be the first Irish representative of sire Vadamos, as well as the first produce of Nathaniel's broodmares to partake in juvenile hurdles. In a Ballinrobe maiden back in August, Calvados got three careers off to the perfect start. Backed from 6/1 into 10/3 second favourite, she jumped nicely for a debutant and ran out a comfortable five and a half length winner. After finishing third at Navan on a return to the flat, she filled the same position on her next two hurdles outings at Listowel and Punchestown. Both times she found herself behind Bell Ex One, but had ran to a respectable level on each occasion. At Listowel, she kept on to split Realist (a subsequent hurdles winner in America) and Inca Prince, while at Punchestown she emerged better at the weights than runner-up Sea Sessions with the trio nineteen lengths clear of the remainder. Calvados would follow Sea Sessions to Aintree for a listed fillies' contest in early December. Held on bottomless ground, the pace was slow from start to finish. Racing close to the lead throughout, Calvados made minor errors but was better when the pace picked up somewhat along the back. She jumped the last alongside the leader and though Sea Sessions stayed the better of the pair, Calvados was able to hang on for second. Her latest appearance came in the Grade Two at Leopardstown over Christmas where she started an unfancied 33/1 outsider. Held up towards the rear off a steady pace, Calvados met with blocked paths just as the race unfolded on the home turn where she would probably have found herself outpaced in any event. She kept on but a large jump at the last put paid to any aspirations of finishing closer than an eighteen length sixth. John McConnell has had two winners from five in Musselburgh juveniles which is in keeping with his 31% strike rate with all runners at the course where he had another winner on the Saturday. He saddles two in this contest and while stablemate Innatendue holds the Triumph entry, Calvados has the services of Sean Bowen who has had ten wins from thirty rides for the yard. There is a bit to find with a couple of the geldings but her weight allowance would throw her into the mix and if the ground does go any softer, pedigree and racecourse evidence suggests that Calvados could be in her element. 

Innatendue bf John C McConnell b4-2-2 (-) –
Spanish Moon (Sleeping Car){u}(2.00) 1/0 Trotot 1st 4000m 5&6yo Conditions Chase, Le Lion d’Angers 2012
https://www.equidia.fr/chevaux/innatendue-1
The sole hurdling debutant in the field, Innatendue joined John McConnell after a €100,000 private sale at Arqana in the Autumn. Racing exclusively in bumpers to date, her career started with Etienne & Grégoire Leenders; a yard responsible for two winners (Dandy Mag and Ronde de Nuit) from three exports. Innatendue's debut came in an early August, 2400m fillies race at Le Lion-d'Angers where she started the 6.9 third favourite of nine. Switching on and off the bridle in midfield, she crept closer with half a mile to go and though she made a meal of getting to the front, she got the lead at the furlong marker before holding on by a neck. Nothing behind her has managed to win since, but the form of her next two outings is substantial. Though she still looked very slow the following month at Craon, it would be harsh to detract from her effort in chasing down Il Est Divin (second in a Groupe II next time) to half a length. In October, Innatendue finished third in a Groupe III at Moulins where she ran in a similar fashion behind Ile O Vent and Ingrandes. This pair would finish fifth and fourth in the Groupe I bumper at Saint Cloud, but not before Innatendue managed to beat the latter in a Groupe III at Durtal at the end of the month. It was a well contested multi way battle from the moment they entered the straight and Innatendue had her head down at just the right moment passing the post as she would have placed second or third a stride either side of the line. Though tying into some high strands on the AQPS circuit, the fact the first eight were covered by less than four and a half lengths does detract from the form. Nevertheless, Innatendue has shown a decent attitude to go with her patent stamina. Insofar as hurdling is concerned, Innatendue has some credentials in the pedigree. Two of Spanish Moon's six British and Irish juveniles have been winners, uncle Quimperial won a three-year-old hurdle while cousin Desir du Large finished third in the Johnstown novice. However, Spanish Moon's winner to runner rate with three-year-olds in France drops to 10% and his highest rated offspring in that country have been chasers. Furthermore, while hurdlers do appear on the damline, there is a heavier lean towards chasing. The dam gained both of her wins over fences as did half-brother En Temps Voulu, while the two other winning siblings did so in cross country races. Bonaniversere Papa (2/1) was a winning chaser, the useful Gondleen and l'Artiste Francais (both 3/1) showed their best form over fences while Chriseti (3/1) was a leading light in cross country. Innatendue's entry in the Triumph does not escape notice. However, the yard has a more feasible candidate in Calvados, its first time strike rate is a low one, and everything about the profile suggests that even if Musselburgh was ploughed before racing, she would still find things happening too quickly. 

Malakahna bf Ian Williams f2-1-1 (-) - j3-1-1 (115) 109 116
Manduro (Dalakhani){1-h}(0.33) 2/1 Dariya 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. Malakahna was last seen at Sandown a month ago for a four-runner class 3 contest where she started the 15/8 second favourite of four. Held up in touch off what was a reasonable pace in the heavy ground, her jumping was marked by steady and sometimes careless jumping. While an early departure and an unfit non-stayer assured Malakahna of at least a second place finish, she had absolutely no answer when the winner pressed on at the distance and left her thirteen lengths in his wake. Malakahna would not be completely out of this on her best form, and she may well be content whatever the conditions or pace composition. However, this would also give her less scope for improvement and she does have to account for her below par outings where her jumping left plenty to be desired. 

tl;dr
Bulls Aye - Sole Scottish trained runner in the field. Won on this track on the flat but failed to progress and looks a doubtful stayer. Failed to show on hurdling debut and continued inability to settle will likely exacerbate an already tricky assignment.

Impulsive One - Flat winner for William Haggas who was fast and nimble when winning minor events at Plumpton and Huntingdon. Found out by Knight Salute at Kempton and Doncaster but showed improved form which sets standard in this contest. Sole runner at meeting for top yard which has won this race three times. Has strong prospects if the ground holds. 

Inca Prince - Promising flat career ended with whimper but has been rejuvinated 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 on British debut. Made all over course and distance last month and while that race was run to suit, the time was still decent. Course form an asset and should give good account although this may be tougher. 

Sonning - Winner on flat and confirmed hurdling debut promise when scoring at Catterick. Fair effort in Plumpton novice before moderate show in Wincanton handicap. Plenty of speed and capable of jumping well. However, will likely need the sharpest of tests to be seen to full effect at this juncture.

Calvados - Modest but improving maiden on flat who made winning hurdles debut at Ballinrobe in August. Failed to score since but placed next three outings in good company before being unsuited by how Leopardstown Grade Two unfolded. Something to find but weight allowance will help and conditions may bring out further improvement. Jockey booking an interesting one for yard with good record at venue. 

Innatendue - Yet to race over hurdles but two wins and two places from four French bumpers. Form has strands in high levels of AQPS scene although she does look decidedly slow and will probably find this too sharp first time. 

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 there however, and she failed to justify her initial impression at Aintree and Sandown. Not without a shout at best but questions over her latest efforts, and her jumping, loom large.

If Soft side of Good to Soft
Strong prospects
1. Calvados
Reasonable prospects
2. Impulsive One
3. Inca Prince
Feasible/Moderate prospects
4. Innatendue
5. Malakahna
6. Sonning
Negligible prospects
7. Bulls Aye

If Good side of Good to Soft
Strong prospects
1. Impulsive One
Reasonable prospects
2. Calvados
3. Inca Prince
Feasible prospects
4. Sonning
Moderate prospects
5. Malakahna
6. Innatendue
Negligible prospects
7. Bulls Aye

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Preview for tomorrow's fillies' race at Ludlow which, to my eye, looks rather uncompetitive given that Galah and Angels Landing have questions to answer. Doncaster's race on Thursday looks a little more interesting but I would be very surprised if a preview was forthcoming as I am meeting a friend after work tomorrow... Such is life. Still, it's nice that we finally get to see Ile de Jersey...

Abandoned last season, Ludlow's fillies' juvenile hurdle is set to be hosted for the fifth time having been established in 2017. The average winners' seasonal RPR of 114.88 essentially matches the standard at the venue. Castafiore and Miranda, who won in 2017 and 2019, would eventually score in Grade 2 company over fences and hurdles respectively. However, insofar as juvenile attainment is concerned, its most accomplished graduates were Hillcrest Fire and Via Delle Volte - who would reach the frame in the juvenile handicap at Cheltenham's fillies' meeting having finished unplaced in this race. Save for the Nicky Henderson debutant, this year's renewal looks to be of a typical standard as the more exposed participants have shown fair form while the unexposed entries do not have a huge amount of scope.  A sharp, slightly undulating, right-handed circuit, Ludlow's winning DIs of 1.29 median, 1.50 mean, are in the higher third of British racecourses with its clear round and completion rates being very close to standard. Of the six set to face the starter, only Angels Landing has made the running over hurdles and that happened on just one occasion, although it was over this course and distance so a similar scenario may be in store. The latest going description was good to soft and with little more than drizzle and a gentle breeze expected in the morning, the field will not be subject to an especially searching test of stamina.

Galah bf Milton Harris f12-4-5 (72) 83 j4-1-2 (112) 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 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. Galah's next appearance came in a fillies' maiden at Doncaster over Christmas where she set a clear standard and was accordingly sent off the even money favourite. Held up towards the rear off a modest tempo, Galah only had one behind turning for home where the leader stole a march. Nevertheless, she was able to make steady headway in the straight and after jumping into the lead at the last, edged out a length victory on the run-in. Given the way the race unfolded, the performance can not be said to match her efforts at Newcastle or Cheltenham but she did not have to be at her best in any case. Galah returned to Doncaster for a listed filles' contest two weeks ago. The Irish raiding party set a tough standard, but Galah was still disappointing and ran according to her drift in the market from 5/1 during the morning to 12/1 at the off. She settled reasonably well in the rear and there were no major complaints to be made about her jumping. However, she had no response when asked for her effort three from home and the gap between herself and the principals would only grow throughout the straight. With Archie Bellamy taking off seven pounds, Galah has solid enough prospects at these weights. Nevertheless, she was given to unaccountably poor showings on the flat and while these were invariably atoned for, it was usually done so after a longer break. 

Ile de Jersey bf Nicky Henderson j2-1-1 (-) - 118
Night Wish (Nononito){1-b}(0.54) 0.5 Friary Rock 1st 2m4f Beginners Chase, Wexford 2021
https://www.equidia.fr/chevaux/ile-de-jersey
Nicky Henderson is one of the stand out trainers of juvenile hurdlers and his record with French imports bringing hurdling experience is an impressive one. Since 2004/05, twenty-five of thirty-five such horses won during their initial campaigns and count amongst them accomplished sorts such as We Have A Dream, Peace and Co, Top Notch, Grandouet and Fusil Raffles. For all the transfer activity that has been taking place since the Spring, the yard’s first such recruit is a fairly recent acquisition in Ile de Jersey. Beginning her career with Patrice Quinton, whose five previous exports have yielded one winner in Cyclop, Ile de Jersey first saw the racecourse in early July when she took in a 3,700m contest at Sable. Taking in fifteen flights and tracking the leaders throughout, she jumped well over the first four flights, before making her first errors; trailing her hind legs through the fifth and completely missing the sixth. She was tight but better at the next and while she was early at the eleventh and rather missed three out, her overall hurdling was perfectly acceptable for a newcomer. She finished second to another debutant in the Macaire trained Ixia, who comes from the family of Azertyuiop and Bipbap, and was twenty lengths clear of the third who recently broke her duck in a Machecoul claimer. Ile de Jersey’s second outing came over an additional 100 metres at Vittel where she jumped very neatly and made only a minor error at the fifth. She led the pursuit of the runaway leader and after effortlessly passing him on the turn for home, won the race by fifteen lengths and a distance without having to be extended. Although the form of this contest amounts to very little, the second and fourth have managed to break their maidens. With her races coming over longer distances, it is no surprise that Ile de Jersey is not bred to be a speedy juvenile. Sire Night Wish, group class at up to twelve furlongs in Germany, is having his first crop of juveniles but is already off the mark with two winners in France. While not the most accomplished racehorse, this giant son of Sholokhov has a classic German pedigree (which also includes Melon at 4/4) and has the credentials to be a useful jumps sire. Ile de Jersey is out of a winning chaser at Saint-Brieuc who has also produced the prolific cross-country winner Dunquin, and is herself a half-sister to three other winning jumpers. Given her profile, Ile de Jersey does not look like an obvious speedy juvenile type and Ludlow on decent ground may be leaning on the sharp side. Nevertheless, she does have a good jump in her, she easily caught the clear leader at Vittel with a couple of furlongs to spare and her form sets a clear standard. Furthermore, in terms of sourcing, it could be interesting that she was ridden last time by a Felix de Giles who is very familiar with the Henderson operation that sent Punjabi and Doubly Guest to make winning debuts for the yard at Ludlow around this time of year. Ile de Jersey does have to prove her fitness, although the yard invariably have their French hurdles recruits ready to go straight away with their first time strike rate being a very healthy 57.14%

Angels Landing bf Ian Williams f6-1-3 (71) 76 j5-0-4 (100) 101 107 
Fascinating Rock (Pivotal){7-a}(1.77) 5/3 Binocular 1st Champion Hurdle (G1), Cheltenham 2010
Having failed to make the track for Richard Fahey, Angels Landing started her career with Ian Williams in mid-June, running consistently and placing three times on her first five outings before getting off the mark in an eleven furlong Kempton handicap in October off 67. Representing the first crop of Fascinating Rock, but with a threadbare damline, Angels Landing started 5/2 joint favourite on her hurdling debut at Ludlow early the following month. Held up in touch and jumping abysmally, she was one paced in the straight before finishing a near five length third of seven. Her next outing came in a fillies' juvenile at Leicester where she was warmly fancied 13/8 favourite. Tracking the leaders, she was still given to novicey errors but there was a definite improvement in her hurdling. Always close up, she went into a narrow lead on the approach to two out and though readily beaten by the winner, she plugged on well enough to finish two and three quarter lengths clear of the remainder. This marked a step up on her debut, although the form was nothing out of the ordinary and her venture into pattern company next time at Aintree amounted to little. Starting at 33/1 having opened at 12/1 in the morning, Angels Landing raced in the rear and her short lived effort at the cross section was over by the time they reached the straight and she was pulled up before jumping two out. Apart from jumping to her right early on, and reaching at the sixth, Angels Landing did hurdle respectably and can perhaps be forgiven the performance due to the very testing conditions. A month later, Angels Landing was able to bounce back to post her best hurdling effort to date in a juvenile hurdle at Ludlow where she started a warm 10/3 second favourite. Establishing a clear lead early on, she jumped well for the most part and had all bar the winner in trouble leaving the back. Challenged on turning for home, she was soon chasing the winner's shadow and her hurdling rather deteriorated, but she still had enough to finish twenty-four lengths clear of the third. Her latest appearance came at Doncaster two weeks ago, although rather than joining Galah and a stablemate in the listed fillies' race, she took her place in a novice handicap over the same trip; running off a mark of 100. Although she was as low as 5/4 during the morning exchanges, Angels Landing drifted out to 9/4 at the off but still held onto favouritism. Tracking the leaders off a comparatively modest tempo, she was one paced in the straight but still maintained her position well into the closing stages before faltering on the run-in and merely clinging on for a eight length third. Seemingly content on any ground with proven form over a course where her likely easy lead will suit, Angels Landing has several factors in her favour. However, the manner in which she folded recently, in conjunction with her trainer's moderate recent form, does not instill iron clad confidence. 

Austriana bf Sam Allwood f4-0-0 (60) 60 j1-0-0 (-) 0 0
Teofilo (One Cool Cat){4-n}(0.82) 2/2 Irving 1st Fighting Fifth Hurdle (G1), Newcastle 2014, 2015
Starting her career with William Jarvis (only one winner from seventeen as a source of juveniles), Austriana started off reasonably well with a seven length fourth of seven in a mid-June, ten-furlong Newmarket novices stakes. However, her taking a keen hold would not abate with experience as finished no closer than fourteen lengths to the winner in similar contests at Newbury and Newmarket, and a Chelmsford handicap off 64 in August. Fetching 2,000gns in the Tattersalls September Online sale, Austriana joined a Sam Allwood yard that thus far has little experience in the sphere. Her pedigree is a compelling one for her new vocation as Teofilo has a fine winner to runner rate of 32.56% with his juveniles, and as well as being the niece of fairly useful winner Iolith, Austriana's cousin is the high-class hurdler, Irving. This did not translate into confidence ahead of her Catterick hurdling bow in November as she drifted from 50/1 to 80/1. Her free running nature did follow her from the flat as she pulled extremely hard in the rear and made numerous errors as a result before becoming detached leaving the back and pulling up before the last. 

Dooby bf Sam Allwood b1-0-0 (-) 24 j1-0-0 (-) 47 63
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 made her debut in a Wetherby bumper early in December where she lost her position half a mile from home and finished tailed off. Both trainer and sire alike are zero from three with juvenile hurdlers, although Charlie Price has ridden more winners for the yard than stablemate Austriana's rider. The dam won a bumper but never raced over hurdles and the closest winning jumper on the damline appears at 3/2. Dooby made her hurdling debut in the same Doncaster contest won by Galah in December, starting at 150/1. She tracked the leader and jumped well enough before skewing at the fourth and lost her position approaching three out before finishing tailed off in last place. 

Rattling Rosie grf John Groucott f5-0-1 (67) 71 j3-0-0 (74) 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-five 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, and 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. Rattling Rosie's third outing came at Hereford in the new year where she pulled hard in midfield, skewed at the first, was big at the second and blundered badly at the fourth from where she lost her position and ultimately finished an eighty-four length seventh. This earned Rattling Rosie a mark of 74 which overestimates her hurdling performances to date while still leaving her with stones to find with the best of these. 

tl;dr
Galah - Four time winner on the flat and confirmed promising hurdles efforts at Newcastle and Cheltenham with decisive win at Doncaster. Disappointed on return to that venue in listed contest and may require longer break in order to bounce back. Solid enough form claims otherwise. 

Ile de Jersey - Ex-French, second to well-bred debutant at Sable and well clear of remainder before off the mark in bloodless fashion at Vittel over 3800m. Bred to appreciate further in time but with leading yard with fine first time strike rate which also introduced Punjabi at this venue in January 2007.

Angels Landing - Up there with best of these on flat and has placed on all four completed starts over hurdles without winning. Best effort came at this track on penultimate outing and lead is probably hers if she wants it. Not disgraced in recent Doncaster handicap but manner of her folding in conjunciton with recent stable form will be of concern.

Austriana - Intriguingly bred and debut flat outing at Newmarket not without promise in isolation. However, pulled hard on all four runs in that prior to inexpensive sale and did so again on hurdling bow at Catterick in November.

Dooby - Poor on sole bumper start and while modicum of promise at Doncaster behind Galah, still finished a tailed off last. Much to prove.

Rattling Rosie - Fair maiden for Tom Dascombe but three hurdles outings have resulted in a mark of 74 which she has yet to earn.

Outstanding prospects
1. Ile de Jersey
Reasonable prospects
.
Feasible prospects
2. Galah
3. Angels Landing
Moderate prospects
.
Negligible prospects
4. Dooby
5. Austriana
6. Rattling Rosie

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The preview for tomorrow's race at Hereford started off as an essay. However, before long, I was struggling to keep my eyes open and my thoughts were everywhere and nowhere. Whether it's because I'm tired from a long day at work, or it's simply a dire race is anybody's guess. For what it's worth, here's all I managed.

The average winning juvenile hurdler at Hereford has a seasonal RPR of just 109.63 while the average participant has a seasonal RPR of 80.03. These figures are each in the bottom ten of British and Irish racecourses. The course is set to host its second running of this fillies' maiden hurdle, the first of which was won by Raffles Gitane who went on to place in the Grade 3 handicap at Cheltenham's April meeting. This year's renewal, however, looks par for the course with the four experienced runners failing to win from a combined fifteen starts, and the four newcomers bringing either poor form or patchy profiles. 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. Its average winning DIs of 1.25 median, 1.42 mean, are on the higher side of standard, although its completion rate of 81.36% is the tenth lowest in the country. The circuit also provides a decent jumping test with a clear round rate of 95.34%; a test which is especially for hurdling debutants whose rate of 90.91% is lower only at Lingfield and Taunton amongst the British racecourses. The going has most recently been reported as soft, heavy in places, with strong winds potentially offsetting the forecast overnight showers. Pump It Up has been shown to set decent gallops in the past and while a couple of rivals have raced prominently, she will most probably be responsible for setting a decent pace.

Fiamette chf Jo Davis f3-0-0 (56) 48 j5-0-0 (88) 87 94
Free Eagle (Dr Fong){13-e}(0.57) 2/1 High Stratos 3rd 2m4f Conditions Hurdle, Punchestown 2015
Finishing eighth on all three starts on the all weather last winter, Fiamette's flat mark of 56 exceeded her accomplishments. Leaving Anthony Carson for Jo Davis, she joins a trainer who has had a couple of winning juveniles, although none of her twelve with official marks improved on their flat form. Free Eagle is a positive as he enjoyed three winners from his first crop, and the damline has several winning jumpers nearby in High Stratos (2/1), Poet (2/1), Vanishing Point (2/2) and Alum Bay (3/1). There were few signs of her bettering her flat showings on her jumps debut at Stratford back in August. Racing in a first time visor, she gave chase to the two leaders and was not beaten off until dropping away towards the end of the back. Her hurdling was slow and steady to begin with, but she jumped better when ridden into her flights. Fiamette returned after a sixty-six day break for a warm looking contest at Ffos Las where she started at 150/1 having opened at 66/1. Tracking the leaders from the outset, apart from skewing slightly at the first and clipping the second, there was little complaint to be made of her jumping. She was still in contention turning into the straight and only began to lose touch approaching the penultimate flight from where she would finish a seventeen length fourth. Fiamette was helped by the underperformances of more fancied runners, with the subsequently pattern class Moka de Vassy finishing behind, but it still marked a career best. Her next outing came at Fontwell in early December where she was supported during the day from 33/1 to 10/1 before settling on 14/1 at the off. Her jumping took a slight regression as she hit the top of the second and got in very close to the sixth before finding herself comprehensively outpaced by the front three in the market. Nevertheless, she only failed by a neck to snatch third on the line and was twenty-eight lengths clear of the remainder. Shaping very much like a stayer, Fiamette's most recent outings have come in handicaps over intermediate distances at Fontwell later in December, and at Ffos Las a fortnight ago. In the former contest, running off 98, she attracted support during the day and started the 9/2 second favourite. Setting off in mid division, she took closer order on the second circuit but made no impression from leaving the back before flattening the penultimate flight and finishing a twenty-four length fifth. Dropped to 92 for her latest appearance at Ffos Las, where she again attracted support. She jumped decently, if tight on occasions, and though shaken up at the end of the back, was back on the bit when close and untidy three from home. Though not a serious mistake, it did put an end to her effort and she would lose fourth close to the line where she finished just over twelve lengths behind the winner. This was a step back in the right direction and though Hereford would typically be on the sharp side, the conditions and pace angle are similar to what she enjoyed at Ffos Las in October. Furthermore, the visor which saw her run well on that occasion has been reapplied and the yard has had a winning juvenile at the course. Fiamette would have little more than a few pounds to find on best form, and with her rivals being less likely than herself to enjoy these conditions, a decent performance would not be unexpected.

Hang Up bf Fergal O'Brien f4-0-1 (65) 71
Lope de Vega (Authorized){1-l}(1.11) 3/1 Colophony 1st 2m3½f Handicap Hurdle (105), Huntingdon 2008
Wearing a hood when making her racecourse debut at Sandown in June, Hang Up looked in need of the experience but was beaten by less than five lengths when sixth of eight behind a couple of next time out winners. Kept to around ten furlongs at Wolverhampton a month later, she ran to a similar level when a four and a quarter length third in a novice fillies stakes. Hang Up was unable to sustain these efforts in a couple of appearances at Kempton in October where she was beaten twenty-three lengths in an eleven furlong maiden, and the best part of twelve lengths in a twelve furlong handicap off 68. Staying in the colours of Malcolm Denmark, she left James Fanshawe, whose former inmates have a 14.81% winner to runner rate in the division, to join a Fergal O'Brien yard with a respectable rate of 23.81%; as well as a first time rate of 15.38% with flat recruits. Sire Lope de Vega's winner to runner rate of 17.39% is little better than fair and his progeny's improvement rate of 28.57% is modest. Nevertheless, Authorized is doing well as a damsire (29.41% WR) and the third dam has produced a pair of winning jumpers in Colophony and Demographic. Hang Up will have to account for her two disappointing efforts in the Autumn, but her Summer form is just about the strongest brought from the flat. Her profile is such that a decent showing can not be discounted, although Hereford is not the most forgiving for a newcomer to the sphere.

Madam Malarkey brf Nigel Twiston-Davies b2-0-0 (-) - 42
Pether's Moon (Presenting){1-l}(0.33) 1/0 Grenfell P-T-P Final Hunters' Chase, Cheltenham 2009
Juvenile hurdlers who started off in bumpers have just a 2.36% first-time strike rate and none of the seven such trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies were able to oblige. Nevertheless, Mahogany Blaze did finish third on his hurdling debut for the Naunton based handler; whose winner to runner rate with juveniles is a healthy 32.56%. His latest former bumper horse to try her hand in the sphere is Madam Malarkey. The daughter of a prolific pointer, she will be her sire's first representative in the division. Madam Malarkey is the niece of winning jumpers Shining Light and Brave King, good chaser Castle Warden appears at 3/1 on the damline, while Triumph third Al-'Alawi and Toirdealbhach came from the fourth dam before becoming sires.
*Started favourite but ran no kind of race at Warwick on debut
*43l last at Taunton on second outing

Miss Curiosity bf Seamus Mullins b3-0-1 (-) 87
Life Force (Zerpour){u}(0.33) 2/1 Los Amigos 2m5½f 0-140 Rated Chase, Fairyhouse 2015
First juv for Life Force - very unlikely type although full-brother Vale Of York has had winners in France
2/1 Tom Horn 2/1 Shoughall's Boy 3/1 Jamalade 4/1 Fairy King, State Case 4/3 Coole Avenue
ex-Bumper horses poor in juvs but improved on debut to finish second at Newbury in December - easy winner followed up at Cheltenham next time but form in behind not working out.
Seamus Mullins 12.07% WR, 3.64% FTO

Pretentieuse bf Deborah Faulkner j2-0-0 (-) 56 58
Great Pretender (Limnos){17-b}(0.45) 1/0 Limaranta 70.0 2nd Prix Bournosienne (G3,3yH), Auteul 2006
https://www.equidia.fr/chevaux/pretentieuse
(Patrice Lenogue) €3,000 Arqana Summer
Pretty good pedigree, poor form, cheap purchase.
0.5 Ri 57.0 1.3800m HcC 0.5 Emila Romagna 55.0 1.4yC Ploermel 2/1 Limarauth, Mango Bay 3/1 Rash Moment 4/1 Actinium

Pump It Up chf Richard Spencer f12-1-3 (49) 59 j4-0-1 (93) 83 98
Charming Thought (Pivotal){1-l}(2.08) 3/1 General Eliott  1st 2m½f Handicap Hurdle (100), Market Rasen 2011
***Preview from Doncaster where she finished second having very much got the run of the race
"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."
*Subsequently flopped when attempting same tactics in better race at Lingfield last time.

Simply Red chf Oliver Greenalll b2-0-0 (-) 57 j2-0-0 (-) 74 90
Proconsul (Motivator){22-d}(0.76) 2/1 Teela 4th Juvenile Maiden Hurdle, Sedgefield 2010
***Preview from Doncaster where she finished fifth, making little impression on Tiki Fire
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.
*stable has been quite tepid recently but does have two winners and place from seven juveniles at Hereford

Tiki Fire bf Neil King f7-0-3 (64) 70 j4-0-1 (92) 90 96
Awtaad (Big Shuffle){1-h}(1.46) 3/2 Dictum 1st 2m3f Novices' Chase, Haydock 2007
***Preview from Doncaster listed race where she finished tailed off
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 a fillies' contest at Fakenham, 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 early last 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 though easy in the market beforehand, she went into last month's Doncaster contest with feasible prospects. Racing in midfield, Tiki Fire was some way off the pace turning for home, but was still able to get first run on the reopposing Galah. Her round of jumping was not as clean, as she clipped the first, was untidy at the second, tight at the fourth and was not smoothly away from three out. Headed by Galah approaching the last, without having caught the runaway leader, she could only plug on behind the front pair, four and a half lengths clear of the remainder. Tiki Fire was not disgraced on this occasion and posted her best performance to date over hurdles. However, there is no reason why she might reverse placing with Galah and the yard's horses have not been running to form. 
*(yard has since been in better form)
*Yard one from two at Hereford (both prior to 2010)

Strong prospects
1. Fiamette
Reasonable prospects
2. Tiki Fire
3. Pump It Up
4. Hang Up
Feasible prospects
5. Simply Red
Moderate prospects
6. Miss Curiosity
7. Madam Malarkey
Negligible prospects
8. Pretentieuse

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Dropped a total bollock on yesterday's preview by downplaying Pump It Up's chances due to her having the run of the race at Doncaster... Even though I suggested she may also get an easy lead in this race. 

Have managed to stay awake long enough to write a more complete one for Fontwell since it is a better race, but don't take this to mean that I am any more alert to the world!

The average winner of Fontwell's February juvenile hurdle has a seasonal RPR of 124.5 median, 129.7 mean, making it a good ten pounds stronger than the average contest held at the venue. While still a class 4 affair, the race has still made ripples on the festival season with Blazing Bailey and Mobaasher (winners in 2006 and 2007) placing in the Triumph, and Ski Sunday and Christopher Wood (third in 2009 and first in 2019) placing in the Anniversary Hurdle. Mr Thriller (first in 2009), Monsieur Lecoq (third in 2018) and Pur de Sivola (third in 2007) are other graduates who would go on to reach respectable heights. This year's renewal is unlikely to affect the Triumph market but it is not a race without merit. The five strong field is headed by three previous winners; two of whom made promising starts to their hurdling careers before disappointing at Cheltenham last time, and the third making good on his potential when leaving previous form behind with an emphatic win at Hereford. A decently priced flat recruit and a well bred jumps type, each with a bit to find on hurdling evidence, complete the line-up. 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, 1.06 median are within the lowest third of British and Irish venues. These figures drop further to 1.06 and 0.91 for this particular contest. With the going described as heavy, soft in places, and two of the previous winning hurdlers doing so having made all, there will be few hiding places for non stayers despite the small field size.

Triumph Odds
Interne de Sivola 66/1 (75)
Silver Shade 100/1 (610)

Fred Winter
Interne de Sivola 33/1
Silver Shade 33/1
Hayedo 40/1

Hayedo bg Gary Moore f4-0-3 (-) 84 j3-1-1 (115) 114 118
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 fourth outing over British hurdles. After fetching €58,000 as a yearling, Hayedo twice ran for Patrik Olave at La Zarzuela, Madrid late in the season, placing second on each occasion. Hayedo's third flat 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 was 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. Four weeks later, Hayedo returned in a maiden hurdle at Hereford; drifting from 4/1 to 8/1 during the day, before returning to 9/2 in the ring. Taking a keen hold, Hayedo went straight to the front while demonstrating good improvement in his jumping. He was neat when ridden into the first, but though rather tight at the second, was fluent from thereon. His rivals were all in trouble at the cross section and by the time he entered the straight, he was half-a-dozen lengths clear. Hayedo was steady before hopping through the top of the last, but the runner-up made an even worse blunder which allowed him to storm to a thirteen length success. His task was made easier by the favourite pulling too hard, but the form is close to his flat best and there may be even further to come. He was withdrawn from an intended engagement at Ascot in a contest where the yard had previously sent Goshen, Beat The Judge and Casa Loupi. Nevertheless, Gary Moore also has a strong record with juveniles at Fontwell with a strike rate of 28.26% including two winners and six placings from nine runners in this particular contest. Though there is a concern over his racing keenly, said trait is less pronounced than with his main rivals. If all form is taken at face value, he does have several pounds to find on Interne de Sivola. Nevertheless, he is improving with each run and there is the potential for more from the enhanced stamina test. Hayedo has the least to answer for overall and based on his Ascot entry, is held in decent regard for a trainer that enjoys plenty of success at the track.

Interne De Sivola bg Nick Williams j3-1-1 (130) 121 125
Noroit (Cadoudal){u}(0.33) 0.5 Ut De Sivola 2nd Champion Four Year Old Hurdle (G1), Punchestown 2012
Regular readers will be aware that previously unraced horses have a modest record in the sphere, with such horses having a winner to runner rate of 7.27%. Said readers will also be aware that this maxim does not necessarily apply to those hailing from George Nympton as their winner to runner rate is 30.77%. Interne de Sivola is one of this season's contributors to this healthy figure and like many of his ilk, has a pedigree which justifies the Williams' anomaly. By Noroit, who has three winners from six with British and Irish trained juveniles, Interne de Sivola is a half-brother to five winning jumpers in Ut de Sivola, Sivola de Sivola, Artifice Sivola, Task Force Sivola and Radsoc de Sivola; all of whom showed useful form as youngsters. Their dam, Kerrana, won twice as a four-year-old at Auteuil, is the auntie of another winner in Dark Caviar, and the niece of New Will and Quick Will. The top-class pair of My Will and Unioniste appear at 3/2 on Intene de Sivola's damline. His racecorse debut came at Warwick in early November where he drifted during the day's exchanges before being clipped into 11/1 in the ring. Initially making the running, Interne de Sivola was content to track a couple of more eager leaders on passing the stands where he would remain to the end of the back straight where he found himself outpaced. In the deep end of the contest, he was able to keep on with the front pair without threatening either, and finished fourteen lengths clear of the remainder. His first public round of jumping was not flawless as he was slightly steady at the third, close to the sixth where he skewed quite badly before hopping over the last. Nevertheless, it was a respectable round overall and the form is decent with the winner, in This World, leading the British contingent on the Triumph market before being ruled out for the season, and the runner-up Graystone scoring twice in good company. A month later at Cheltenham, Interne de Sivola made good on this promise by readily landing the spoils by five and a half lengths. The form was boosted when the second and third, Yorksea and Galah, won next time and save for being awkward at the last, Interne de Sivola put up a decent round of jumping. Cosy as his victory was, there is a possiblility that he was somewhat flattered as he was able to set a steady tempo and get first run on a field which was littered with messy in-running stories. This performance was enough to see him start the 5/1 third favourite in the Grade Two Finesse hurdle back in the Cotswolds three weeks ago. However, his tendency to take a firm grip was exacerbated by a constant challenge for the lead and his jumping suffered as a result; as he reached and hopped over the second and fifth, hit the top of the sixth and flattened the penultimate flight which cost him vital momentum and sealed his retreat. This drop in class will be appreciated and if his win at Cheltenham is taken at face value, he sets a clear standard on form. However, he may be unsettled by a contested lead and his Cheltenham success is a stone superior to his other outings.

Silver Shade grg Milton Harris f9-2-2 (73) 80 j2-1-0 (-) 103 111
Kendargent (Alzao){4-b}(0.57) 2/1 Teenage Idol 1st 2m4f Handicap Hurdle (124), Ayr 2012
Milton Harris has enjoyed an outstanding season to date in the division and much of this is down to some astute buying at Tattersalls at the July and Autumn sales. Aliomaana, Knight Salute, Genuflex and Galah have all won this term having gone around the Newmarket ring, with no price tag exceeding 21,000 guineas. Silver Shade cost 18,000 at the Autumn Sale, leaving Mark Johnston with two wins and a mark of 73 to his name. Finishing down the field during three outings at two, Silver Shade returned from his winter break sans testicles. The shedding of two stones reaped immediate results as he finished second over a mile and a half in a Lingfield handicap off 58 before landing a double at Newcastle and Southwell in March and April. Both contests were held over the same trip with neither being especially competitive. Silver Shade had only three rivals to defeat at Newcastle and while he was a most convincing winner, the subsequent form has not worked out. At Southwell, had only the one opponent who he beat in a canter to justify 30/100 favouritism. There is more substance to his Sandown second next time out where he raced over a heavy fourteen furlongs off 73. Although he was no match for Zinc White, he still had enough to fend off the challenge of Pied Piper for second; the latter, who was giving away thirteen pounds, is now a leading candidate for the Triumph. Lacking the pace for a steadily run class 2 on good to firm at Doncaster, Silver Shade was last seen pulling up immediately after the start of a Musselburgh handicap in late June. In the event, he had actually fractured his pelvis, although while unable to run again on the flat for his initial connections, was sound enough to get past the Tattersalls vets with full disclosure. Since 2004/05, thoroughbred family 4-b has had no winning juveniles from six, although this does not appear to be an endemic issue as Three Kingdoms was a useful sort who won three times at four while König Ulrich, a distant relative at 6/4, won the Prix Maurice Gillois (the Arkle chase for four-year-olds) in 1989. Closer on the damline are the good German hurdler Königstreuer at 4/1 while uncle Teenage Idol was a fairly useful winner. Kendargent's record in France is a solid nine winners from forty-eight, and his record across the channel became a respectable three from twelve when Silver Shade made a winning hurdling bow at Kempton in the middle of last month. In what was a weak looking contest for the venue, he was allowed to open at 11/2 in the ring before being trimmed to a slightly more appropriate 9/2. Opting to sit towards the rear in a slowly run affair, Silver Shade took a bit of a grip for much of the journey but was travelling with purpose on turning into the straight. Keeping the front pair firmly in his sights as the race developed, he jumped into the last with a share of the lead and though rather awkward at the last, quickened well enough on the run-in to score by a comfortable length and a quarter. Along with his being awkward at the last, he was also steady and close at the first and made a meal of getting over three out, but his good jumps were neat and economical. Moreover, while it was not the strongest looking contest on paper, the second and third did appear to maintain their form next time out. Silver Shade was thrown into much deeper waters when taking in the Finesse Hurdle a fortnight later. His task was illustrated by his 25/1 starting price and he performed accordingly. Held up towards the rear, he made a short-lived effort at the bottom of the hill but was unable to make any serious inroads and finished a thirty-five length fifth. His cause was not helped by a novicey round of jumping where he was particularly untidy at the first, fifth and seventh. Silver Shade returns to calmer waters and may also appreciate the return to a flat circuit. However, there is still a poor outing to overcome as well as a few pounds to find on both flat and hurdles form. 

Harlem Soul chg Harriet Brown f8-1-2 (79) 88 j1-0-0 (-) 89 99 
Frankel (Giant's Causeway){9-f}(0.68) 3/1 Percussionist 1st Grand National (G1), Far Hills 2010
Mark Johnston is one of the most prolific suppliers of juvenile hurdlers and while only a third will maintain or improve for the switch in codes, former residents of Kingsley Park do have a solid winner to runner rate of 23.56%; a figure which increases to 32.79% for those rated 75 and above on the level. Harlem Soul is one such animal, amassing a win, two places and a final rating of 79 from eight outings. His win came at the fourth time of asking in a four-runner, twelve-furlong Ripon contest in the middle of June, in his handicap debut off an 80 perch. Tracking the leader off an ordinary gallop, he took up the running three furlongs from home and kept on well for comfortable two and three quarter length victory over Nicky Henderson's useful juvenile Impulsive One. However, he was unable to build on this performance on four subsequent outings and though he was not disgraced in quite valuable contests at Haydock and Ascot, he did not have many excuses either beyond a questionable disposition. Sold for 40,000 guineas at the Tattersalls August Sale, he joined Harriet Brown and was gelded during the Autumn. Harlem Soul's pedigree is strong for a flat horse; coming from a Frankel x Giant's Causeway cross, he is a half-brother to Ispolini (Group 3 winner in Germany and Dubai), and his granddam Playful Act, a half-sister to Nathaniel, won the Fillies' Mile. Frankel's record with juvenile hurdlers has been only fair at best to this point and the same can be said for Giant's Causeway as a damsire. Notwithstanding, Playful Act is also a full-sister to the classy Percussionist, who was respectable over hurdles, and the auntie of Supasundae, Distingo, Whispering Gallery and Great Bear. Harlem Soul's hurdling debut came in a Wincanton novice a fortnight where he was an 11/1 shot. His temperament was not alleviated by his castration however as he took a keen hold and gave his flights plenty of air. Initially racing prominently, he tracked the leader for much of the contest, but lost ground on the turn for home; making no further impression and finishing tired. Harlem Soul can improve for the experience, but said improvement would have to be highly dramatic if he is to mature sufficiently to make a strong challenge in this company.

My Ticketyboo bg Chris Gordon j2-0-0 (-) 73 78
Shirocco (Subtle Power){1-b}(0.57) 2/1 Sher Beau 3rd John Durkan Punchestown Chase (G1), Punchestown 2006
As alluded to in Interne de Sivola's profile, 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 12.50%. Chris Gordon does have a winner to runner rate of 23.33%, but his first time strike rate was just 3.57% prior to My Ticketyboo making his hurdling debut at Hereford in early January. Starting the day at 20/1, but starting the race at 50/1, he was in the rear from the outset. After jumping slowly over the first, and big and skewed over the next two, he became so detached that no more of his jumps were picked up by the cameras. Stepping up to nineteen furlongs for a Fontwell maiden at the end of last month, he raced in mid-division for the first circuit and though dropping to the rear for the second lap, was able to pass a couple of beaten rivals on the run to the last before finishing a twenty-nine length fourth of seven finishers. Though awkward over the first and last pair of jumps, he hurdled more fluently for his Hereford experience. It is not unfeasible that My Ticketyboo does have a future as a national hunt racehorse, but he would be highly unlikely to make any real impact in this contest. 

Strong prospects
1. Hayedo
Reasonable prospects
2. Interne de Sivola
3. Silver Shade
Feasible prospects
.
Moderate prospects
4. Harlem Soul
Negligible prospects
5. My Ticketyboo

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