Doncaster two mile novice’s hurdle has a rich history including being won by John Quinn’s exciting mare Cockney Sparrow, who looks set to take on Willie Mullins’ superstar Quevega in the David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and is 8/1 Non Runner Free Bet with BetVictor.
Nicky Henderson’s Sign of a Victory (3.10) looks a horse with an equally bright future to the mare and was a game winner of a strong jumpers bumper at Kempton last month.
He was a beaten favourite at Newbury when seen prior to that in a race that has worked out exceedingly well; the winner Wilde Blue Yonder backed into 25/1 with BetVictor for the Supreme Novices Hurdle and the 3rd a twice winner since.
He sets the standard and should take all the beating.
Stable-mate Free Thinking will be all the rage in the mares novices’ hurdle for the Waley-Cohen’s however Bull and Bush (2.40) is fancied for Alan King in receipt of 7lb. She should relish the better ground and ran a blinder last time out at Fontwell, splitting the pair of My Miss Lucky and Lily Waugh. She can go one better this afternoon.
Lucinda Russell’s Simarthur is a very interesting runner in the two and a half miles novices chase, jumping fences in public for the first time. The trip looks on the sharp side for him however and preference lay with Croco Bay (3.45).
He has been progressive in all three starts over the larger obstacles, needing the run on his seasonal reappearance at Catterick before hacking up on his next start by ten lengths at the same track. He was nabbed late home conceding a stone to Surprise Vendor at Kelso and should make amends here, despite conceding 7lb to Donald McCain’s Oscatara who looks the danger.
Tony Carroll’s Expanding Universe (5.25) has slowly been trickling down the handicap and with Noel Fehily an eye-catching booking he looks set to exploit a career low mark of 106.
Previously with Dermot Weld, the son of Galileo has strong form in Ireland and chased home Mick Channon’s Viva Steve on debut for the stable, running the 121 rated animal to a length at Fontwell. He runs on good ground for the first time since being out-classed at Cheltenham and can land a touch to further improve the stable’s already impressive 23% strike-rate on Town Moor this season.
Despite having plenty of fancied runners at Doncaster, Barry Geraghty opts to travel to Newbury, which sees Big Hands Harry warrant plenty of respect in the two and a half miles novices hurdle. Jeremy Scott’s Boogie in the Barn (2.20) is taken after running out an impressive winner in a warm novices hurdle at Kempton.
He had the pair of Strollawaynow and Hot Whiskey and Ice for in behind when quickening impressively jumping the last and that form was franked by Noel Williams’ novice winning at Fontwell last week.
Geraghty and Henderson won last year’s renewal of the bumper with Fabrika and their No Pushover (5.10) should be very difficult to beat.
The well-bred Scorpion a beaten favourite when pulling clear with Rebecca Curtis’ Ballyhollow and Jenny’s Surprise at Towcester in December and was unfortunate to just bump into one on the day.
Newbury’s feature two mile handicap chase was won last year by Paddy Brennan on Silver Roque and Paddy can land the spoils again on Tom George’s Sir Valentino (2.50).
The 5-y-o fell in behind Croco Bay at Catterick and was then unlucky to finish second to Lord of the House last month at Ludlow, the winner surviving carrying across the track and needing to survive a stewards enquiry.
Despite a 7lb hike at the weights he is going the right way and is the least exposed of the five runners and is fancied with the Tom George stable in excellent form.
For all the latest odds go to BetVictor.com