Still only a five-year-old, he pipped Le Prezien in last month’s Welsh Champion Hurdle at Ffos Las and a 7lb rise looks within his compass. Monsieur Lecoq should have won a valuable handicap in the Sandown mud last winter, cruising to the front two out before idling up the run-in and getting caught close home. He is better delivered late.
Benny’s Bridge loves it round Prestbury Park but has gone up 10lb for last month’s course victory. Dame De Compagnie is interesting in the JP McManus colours. She has been off 577 days since landing a Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle over 2m 4f here in 2018 but Nicky Henderson is sure to have her wound up if good enough. With only 10st 9lb to carry, she remains unexposed and could prove a threat. Paddy Power are going five places, with most other firms offering four spots ew, despite only 15 runners declared.
Only four go to post for the Arkle Trial but it is nonetheless a tricky little Novices’ Chase. AL DANCER (1.50) had almost six lengths to spare over Getaway Trump when they clashed over course and distance last month and may be able to confirm places on 3lb worse terms. Getaway Trump, like many Paul Nicholls-trained horses, will almost certainly have improved on the back of that initial outing but Al Dancer won with plenty of authority. Rouge Vif thumped Getaway Trump at Kelso over hurdles in March and ran out a clear-cut winner on chasing debut at Market Rasen last month. He looks a big price. Irish raider Put The Kettle On has won three of his four chases and could put his experience to good use.
PACIFY (3.30) has been most impressive in mopping up all five hurdle races this season and is worth chancing on this deep ground in the Sky Bet Supreme Trial Novices’ Hurdle. He was a useful tool on the Flat for Ralph Beckett before joining Jamie Snowden and Pacify has attracted plenty of media interest running in the Duchess of Cornwall’s colours.
Ecco, a winner in Germany before joining the Nicholls operation, has won both starts this season. The form has taken a knock on a couple of occasions but he could still be open to more improvement as a four-year-old. Scardura scooted 16 lengths clear of subsequent winner Bathsheba Bay at Taunton 18 days ago when the track was riding quite quick. Hang In There has looked talented but wayward in two starts at Exeter, while Eden De Houx made a satisfactory hurdles debut at Fontwell.
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