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Iroko was excellent on chase debut. He was a bit novicey at the first couple of fences but after that he was immense. He probably didn't beat much, but you can't ask for much more on chase debut to win on the bridle.
Excelero was another horse who has recently hit the crossbar after being held up miles from off the pace, David Noonan brought his mount into the race with style but didn't quite manage to shrug off the well-bred Gary Moore horse. Bob Bank jumped like a grand piano at a few fences, Jack Tudor tried to smuggle him into contention down the back straight but I just don't think he stays these type of trips, he'll win a race in the near future but it'll have to be over 2m 6f or around that as his stamina for 3m + isn't there.
Musselburgh 1:05 – Union Flag 9/4 (2pt)
Over the last month I've mentioned how Donald McCain hasn't been in great form and it's still the case at the moment, he's really struggling for winners, but his horse in this race, Union Flag should have more than enough to win this.
This is the horse's first run for Donald after connections bought him out of Noel Meade's yard for 25,000 Euros. He was a fairly average flat horse but his hurdles debut 24 days ago at Cork showcased his ability for this discipline as he jumped fantastic and put in a very nice performance with something to build on for the future. The form of that race is head and shoulders clear of this field, the odds-on shot who was back in fourth has since won and recorded a decent RPR for a juvenile, and with how advanced Irish racing is compared to the UK, you'd like to imagine the front two would be decent going forward as well.
Out of the others, I'd rate I'm Too Tired as the main threat as he probably would've beaten the Donald McCain horse on hurdles debut if he didn't make a mess of the second last hurdle and sprawled on landing, but I'd be very shocked if he's good enough to beat Donald's new recruit.
Warwick 1:15 – Helnwein 9/4 (2pt)
I tend to give novice races of this nature a miss due to the size of the field and you often get a surprise, but on all known forms Helnwein should be tough to beat on hurdles debut based on his bumper form.
This horse put in some decent efforts in bumpers, producing some nice RPRs and the form of the races has worked out nicely. On his final start when carrying a penalty he managed to finish 3rd and the 2nd went on to finish 3rd in a Grade 2 bumper at the Grand National meeting at Aintree behind some useful horses. The winner of that Uttoxeter bumper has since made a winning debut over hurdles, winning with relative ease and putting in a decent performance, as has the 5th who won at Hereford a few weeks ago.
The pedigree of this horse suggests he is going to be a smart horse and he is a full-brother to Uncle Phil who is trained by Willie Mullins and is currently rated 130 over fences after producing an RPR of 140 on his most recent run.
Warwick 1:50 – Hurlerontheditch 5/1 (1pt)
This selection is more of trying to strike with the Kim Bailey yard whilst the iron is hot. Kim has been in sensational form with his chasers in the last 7 days, especially those who are making their seasonal reappearances/chase debuts so I'm giving a chance to Hurlerontheditch.
This lad is making his chase debut on the back of a wind-op, he was a decent hurdler last season when finishing in the places on all of his runs, finishing behind some fairly decent horses, but the fact they're not wasting time with him and sticking him over fences on just his 6th run over hurdles suggests he was always going to be a chaser and whatever he did last year was a bonus and it was nice to get the experience into him.
He is stepping up to 3m on his chase debut which is eye-catching as his pedigree doesn't exactly scream out that he'd be a three-miler, but Kim knows what he's doing and I can't question his form.
Chepstow 1:30 – Colonel Harry 2/1 (2pt)
This race will revolve around Tahmuras as he was a very good novice hurdler at the start of last season, his form tailed off towards the back end, but there will be many punters interested in him for chase debut today and the bookies are offering very short odds. For me, he's very beatable and this race could be perfect for the front-running Colonel Harry who is built for fences.
Jamie Snowden won this race last year with the same owner as Colonel Harry, Datsalrightgino, who is one of my favourites in training at the moment. This has clearly been the plan for a while with this horse as I'm sure the same connections would like to win this for the second year running. He was a decent PTP horse and is a very dangerous on the front end, and if he gets into a rhythm under Gavin Sheehan I can see Tahmuras and Out Of Office being under a fair bit of pressure and I can envisage their jumping falling apart when trying to close the gap down.
Colonel Harry is best on testing ground and that's what he'll get at Chepstow. Though the ratings would suggest this should be an easy win for the favourite, I'm confident my selection can win this.
Musselburgh - 1:05 pm
9/4 @ Bet365
Warwick - 1:15 pm
9/4 @ Bet365
Warwick - 1:50 pm
5/1 @ Bet365
Chepstow - 1:30 pm