Folks, just the one winner for us on Thursday with Monmiral looking very special and we will be looking to improve on that here. It is quite a tricky card but plenty of each-way value to be snared.
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1.45 PERTEMPS NETWORK HANDICAP HURDLE (GRADE 3) 2M 4F
We have a very competitive start to Friday’s card and one of the most interesting runners in my view is the Nicky Henderson-trained MISTER COFFEY.
This horse was last seen at Newbury when he finished seventh in a similar big-field handicap won by Soaring Glory. That form received another strong boost on Thursday when Buzz, who finished 5th at Newbury, ran an excellent race to finish second behind Abacadabras.
Mister Coffey has been dropped a pound for that run and will now step up in trip. I think the ground and track will suit and he will be able to be tucked in and travel away.
Solid each-way chance here in a tricky opening contest.
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2.20 TOP NOVICES HURDLE (GRADE 1) 2M
One of my leading antepost fancies for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle makes his reappearance here after he bypassed Cheltenham and I am interested to see how he has progressed since his debut.
It could be a quick double for Nicky Henderson as DUSART really caught the eye when he was an impressive winner on debut with the previously mentioned Soaring Glory (see first race comments) back in second.
The form looks extremely strong with five of the horses in behind Dusart on that occasion all coming out and winning since.
I think the world is his oyster in terms of ability.
He looked high class on debut and if he backs that up here then he will take the world of beating.
2.50 MILDMAY NOVICES CHASE (GRADE 1) 3M
In terms of the betting for this race I was shocked at some of the ante-post markets to see SILVER HALLMARK double the price of Fiddlerontheroof.
It has been adjusted in recent days but the Fergal O’Brien runner is at the forefront of my list for this race as he is very unexposed and looks to be improving all the time.
This horse ran an excellent race on chase debut when pushing Fiddlerontheroof all the way at Exeter and was only beaten by a head in the finish. He improved off the back of that when landing a Grade Two at Haydock, beating Marown on heavy ground.
He should be ok on better ground considering he has form that ties in with McFabulous from his bumper and hurdling days.
This will only be his seventh career start and I think he looks a solid each-way proposition with plenty more to come.
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3.25 MARSH CHASE (GRADE 1) 2M 3F
Danny Mc Menamin is having an excellent season and he looks to have a very good chance of adding another big winner to his CV with NUTS WELL.
He has an excellent rapport with this horse having landed the Monet’s Garden Old Roan Chase on him over the course and distance back in October.
He had Clondaw Castle back in second on that occasion and that horse has franked the form by landing a Grade Two and also ran well in defeat when 2nd to Clan Des Obeaux on Thursday at Aintree.
Nuts Well has won five of his last six starts and he is improving all the time. I think there could be more to come this time around.
There is no doubt he will need a career-best effort but I think it will be hard to keep him out of the frame.
4.05 RANDOX TOPHAM HANDICAP CHASE (GRADE 3) 2M 5F
The team that dominated Cheltenham, Henry De Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore, team up here with VISIOMAN and, if he takes to the fences, he could be one to keep a very close eye on.
Anyone who watched the Aintree Preview from Sky Sports Racing on social media this week would have seen Kevin Blake mention this horse as one to follow.
Subsequently he was shortened in price and, having been 20/1 earlier in the week, he is now as short as 7/1.
He has been out of form the last twice but that was on ground that simply wouldn’t have suited.
He won nicely the time before that and, if the return to nicer ground brings about some improvement, I could see him going very close here.
4.40 DOOM BAR SEFTON NOVICES HURDLE (GRADE 1) 3M
While much of the attention will surround the Paul Nicholls-trained Bravemansgame, I think Nicky Henderson might have ammunition here that could give him a fright.
Henrietta Knight, who trained Best Mate, was waxing lyrical about GALLYHILL after he won his point-to-point at Kirkistown. He was subsequently bought for 450k and now has that reputation to live up to.
He was workmanlike at Newbury when he justified cramped odds to win on hurdling debut and then looked as if he was still learning when second at Ascot last time when he finished second to Midnight River.
I think the step up in trip could be the making of this horse and he looks one to follow.
There is no doubt he is a chaser in the making but he looks to have solid each-way claims here.
5.15 PINSENT MASONS HANDICAP HURDLE (CONDITIONAL JOCKEYS & AMATEUR RIDERS RACE)
It’s not too often I NAP a double-figured priced runner but a jockey booking has caught my eye and some past form in this race looks hard to ignore.
DEAR SIRE is trained by Donald Mc Cain and will be ridden by the experienced Derek O’Connor, and I think that tells us plenty about the chances of this horse.
He was runner-up in this race three years ago off a mark of 140 and is now in here off 138, which is his last winning mark when he was impressive in getting the better of Friend Or Foe at Chepstow back in October.
He ran an excellent race in a jumpers’ bumper at Newcastle and then looked as if he would come on for the run at Musselburgh last time where he travelled well but never threatened.
This race is extremely competitive but, if this horse gets some luck in running, I can see him being competitive.