All eyes on the Emmet Mullins trio at Kelso, plus three to follow in our latest weekend preview
At a time when most of the graded novice hurdles turn out to be small-fields and relatively uncompetitive, it’s refreshing to see such an open-looking contest for the Grade 2 Premier Novices' Hurdle at Kelso in which most of the field have some sort of chance.
It’s also great to see Kerry Lee with a promising young horse, and her Nemean Lion has shown plenty of ability in his short career over hurdles. He was a very respectable third behind Tahmuras in the Grade 1 Tolworth at Sandown last time, and a reproduction of that effort would surely give him solid claims here.
There has been plenty of money around for Sandy Thomson’s Carcaci Castle since the market opened, and although this represents a big step up in class, he comes here in confident mood in pursuit of the hat-trick following two impressive course wins.
Colonel Harry is another contender who’s worth a very close look after his comfortable victory at Newcastle back in January, but the horse who arguably brings the most potential to the race is the Irish raider FERONILY.
He showed up very well for a long way in the Grade 2 bumper won by A Dream To Shine at the Dublin Racing Festival, and Emmet Mullins’ horses are always entitled to maximum respect when arriving on these shores.
This is a hot race in which to make your first start over hurdles in, but Feronily has been mixing it with some of the best bumper horses in Ireland, and if he can transfer that ability to hurdling, then he could be the one they all have to beat.
Emmet Mullins also sends across Mctigue in the 13:50 and The Shunter in the 15:35.
Three to follow
13:50 Kelso – Teddy Blue
There aren’t many who can be ruled out in what looks an extremely deep renewal of the Morebattle Hurdle at Kelso this Saturday, but Gary Moore’s runner Teddy Blue could be the answer in this ferociously competitive handicap.
He was a good third in last month’s Betfair Hurdle at Newbury despite hanging late on, and this course should very much play to his strengths. He runs off a 3lb lower mark than at Newbury here, and with conditions in his favour, it would be no surprise to see him go close if Caolin Quinn can get this free-goer to relax through his race.
14:45 Newbury – Paint The Dream
Two horses who truly save their best for Newbury clash in the Greatwood Gold Cup this weekend, and while Zanza is entitled to plenty of respect after his career-best effort in the Denman Chase, Paint The Dream looks the one to side with.
Fergal O’Brien’s nine-year-old may have disappointed slightly in the Silviniaco Conti at Kempton last time, but he’s always been seen to best effect round here, and off just 4lb higher than when dotting up over C&D in November, he could take some stopping in pursuit of his fourth course win.
15:15 Doncaster – Windsor Avenue
A much smaller field than is usually the case in the Grimthorpe this year, but once again it looks a very open contest.
Although his form figures contain more letters than numbers of late, it might be worth taking a chance on the veteran Windsor Avenue to get his head back in front. He plugged on into a remote fourth here last time over 3 miles, so this stiffer test should certainly play to his strengths.
Brian Ellison’s 11-year-old is now 4lb below his last winning mark, so the handicapper has given him a chance, and it would be no surprise to see him go well at an each way price.
Lewis Knowles, Coral PR Executive