Saphir Du Rheu can make a seamless switch to Grade Two company as he takes another step up the ladder in the totepool National Spirit Hurdle at Fontwell.

Paul Nicholls’ charge has made excellent strides this winter, building on a couple of less-than-promising efforts at the start of the campaign to arrive here in search of a fourth win on the bounce and a step up to the big time.

Judged purely on the ratings, he has improved 35lb from winning at Sandown in December.

He really caught the eye when defying a 15lb rise to canter home in the Lanzarote at Kempton - a race which is usually a keenly-contested affair.

Saphir Du Rheu laughed at his rivals that day, though, and despite having to survive a blunder four flights from home, he was good to enough to still win by a fairly comfortable six lengths.

Sent to Ffos Las for the Welsh Champion Hurdle last time, the heavy ground that day was probably far from ideal but, nevertheless, Saphir Du Rheu put his best foot forward and got the job done.

He may only have won by a head from Whisper but he was giving weight away to a rival who is clearly no slouch.

While Saphir Du Rheu is viewed by many as a future chase star, he should be able to make the transition to Graded hurdles performer here and perhaps put himself in line for a World Hurdle bid.

Via Sundown is worth a chance to get his career back on track in the Bet Placepot With totepool Josh Gifford Memorial Novices’ Chase.

Regarded as having the potential to tackle the top handicap chases next season by trainer Gary Moore, this gelding made a bright start to his jumping career but seemed to never be able to get into a rhythm behind the fleet-footed Corrin Wood at Warwick.

He should be able to enjoy himself more here.

Hot Whiskey N Ice did his bit to promote the talent of new trainer Noel Williams by winning a Uttoxeter bumper and caught the eye when staying on for second on his hurdling debut at Kempton.

With that experience under the belt, he can land the Supports The Racehorse Sanctuary Novices’ Hurdle.

Smart Exit scored a first success over fences at this track last month and can repeat the trick in the Best Racing Blogs On Novices’ Handicap Chase at Towcester.

He proved pretty game to fend off Samson Collonges in a stamina-sapping finish and the handicapper has not been too harsh in awarding a 5lb rise.


FONTWELL: 2.10 Via Sundown, 2.40 Venetian Lad, 3.10 SAPHIR DU RHEU (NAP), 3.45 Hot Whiskey N Ice, 4.20 Richard’s Sundance, 4.50 Proud Times, 5.20 Otago Trail.

NAAS: 1.50 Shield, 2.20 O Maonlai, 2.50 Mozoltov, 3.25 Minella Foru, 4.00 Twinlight, 4.30 Carry Each Other, 5.00 Killultagh Vic.

TOWCESTER: 2.00 Miss Mayfair, 2.30 Slaney Star, 3.00 High Ron, 3.35 Arkose, 4.10 Son Of Suzie, 4.40 Smart Exit, 5.10 Time And Again.

DOUBLE: Saphir Du Rheu and Via Sundown.