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Sunday Preview

Evening all,

Inside today’s main piece I look at the best of the action at Fairyhouse, Huntingdon and Kelso.

Fairyhouse

There’s some cracking racing at Fairyhouse on Sunday afternoon with three Grade 1’s the highlights of an eight race card. 

The Royal Bond Novice Hurdle (1.25)

Champ Kiely won on his hurdle debut at Galway and improved again when running out an impressive winner of a Grade 3 at Tipperary. No issues with the yielding ground and he’s the one to beat.

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Marine Nationale is the one I really like, and I think he can beat Champ Kiely. A dual bumper winner. The 5-year-old impressed me when making a winning hurdle debut at Punchestown 53-days ago. I marked him down as a Supreme Novices’ Hurdle contender after that success. Yet to race on going worse than good to soft but should be fine with juice in the ground.

Drinmore Novice Steeplechase (1.55)

Eleven have been declared for what looks a very deep Grade 1 novice chase and the best we have seen either side of the Irish Sea so far this season.

Banbridge has won both his starts over fences and looked good when winning at Cheltenham last month. The step up to 2m 4f should be ideal and provided the ground isn’t too testing he’s the one to bet.

However, he faces some serious rivals. The Gordon Elliott pair Three Stripe Life & Mighty Potter both won Grade 1’s over hurdles last season and made winning debuts over fences last time.

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Thedevilscoachman is another open to further progress over the larger obstacles but may prefer softer ground than seems likely. His trainer Noel Meade won this last year. If rain did arrive, he can go well.

Enniskerry won his first two starts over fences at Galway and Grade 3 at Roscommon 69-days ago and can’t be dismissed.

Willie Mullins saddles five including the experienced Gaillard Du Mesnil, who was a 5 length 3rd of 9 to L’Homme Presse in the Grade 1 Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. He might find this a bit on the short side in this company.

It’s not a race I will be getting involved in as there are too many runners who look capable of improvement over the larger obstacles.

Hatton's Grace Hurdle (2.30)

Champion Hurdler Honeysuckle bids to win the Grade 1 Hatton’s Grace Hurdle for a fourth successive year. If returning at her best she’s clearly the one to beat. Her biggest rival should be the Willie Mullins trained Klassical Dream and he is formidable rival at his best. A six time Grade 1 winner during his career. He might be better over 3m but 2m 4f is fine and he’s 3-4 when returning from a 121-day + layoff. There will be plenty of disappointed racegoers if Honeysuckle can’t win this again. However, this is the best field she's met in the race.

Huntingdon
Fitzdares Peterborough Chase (2:55)

Just the seven runners for this Garde 2 contest run over 2m 4f. Fast Flow won this on seasonal reappearance 12 months ago and looks to have been targeted at it once more. His claims are clear for all to see.

Pic D'Orhy jumped well when winning on seasonal return at Newton Abbot in October and must be respected on ground that suits.

Allmankind won the Old Roan Chase at Aintree last season, and a reproduction of that performance would see him go close here. However, he was only 4th of 5 in last year’s race.

Millers Bank a Grade 1 novice chase winner at Aintree in April, didn’t get past the first in this season’s Old Roan Chase but ran much better when a ½ length 2nd of 7 in the Colin Parker Intermediate Chase at Carlisle. He was trying to give 12lb to the winner that day, which was always going to be a tough ask. This has always been the plan for this previous C&D winner.

Mister Fisher normally runs his race in small field graded races. A four time Grade 2 winner and like First Flow has a penalty to carry for beating Eldorado Allen in the Silviniaco Conti Chase at Kempton in January. He won this in 2020 (run at Cheltenham) and if his jumping holds up, he won’t be far away in the first time cheekpieces.  

Kelso
Scottish Borders National Handicap Chase (1:05)

It’s not the classiest renewal of this marathon contest but remains one I like to have a good go at.

Last year’s winner Big River loves it around Kelso and although he is 6lb higher this time around you can never rule him out at his favourite venue

The Ferry Master is on a losing run that goes back two years but a reproduction of his 7 ½ length 4th of 22 in last year’s Scottish Grand National would see the 9-year-old go close. Now 10lb lower, he’s respected if staying the four mile trip. Trainer Sandy Thomson who won this four times between 2014 & 2018 also saddles Donna’s Delight & Flower Of Scotland. The latter takes the eye and was a respectable 1 ¾ length 3rd of 9 at Carlisle on seasonal return and back over fences and has to be considered given her light weight.

Niceandeasy finished two places and 3 ½ lengths behind Flower Of Scotland at Carlisle. He ran like the race was needed and he’s been dropped 1lb. He’s another very much in the mix and given he’s only had five starts over fences.  

All About Joe relished the step up to 3m 5f when winning the Durham National at Sedgefield last time. He’s 5lb higher here but is going the right way and is another in the mix.

Cash To The Ash was a 2 ¾ length runner-up to Big River in last year’s race. He’s 4lb better off this time around and there was plenty to like about his reappearance effort 2nd of 10 at Wetherby. Granted he doesn’t find winning easy but he’s consistent enough and has a big chance.

Sunday Verdict

I was pondering putting up Klassical Dream against Honeysuckle in the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse. And I’m expecting a big run from Marine Nationale in the Royal Bond Novices Hurdle.

The Ferry Master is too well handicapped to ignore in the Scottish Borders National, but will he find one of his rivals stays the extended 4 mile distance more strongly than he does.

I’m probably missing the obvious and First Flow will follow up last year’s success in the Peterborough Chase. However, I’m going to take a punt on Mister Fisher to give trainer Nicky Henderson a fifth success in the race since 2013.

Huntingdon

2:55 – Mister Fisher – 15/2 @ William Hill.

Good luck with your Sunday bets.

John

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