SIR IVAN 6/1 generally – 0.5 POINTS E/W (Sky Bet 4 places, we will record 3 places)
I am keen to take on the favourite here in Geordie Des Champs who is plenty short enough given he has not jumped a fence in public since November 2018. That is nearly 3 years and although he has won his last 2 starts over hurdles and could possibly be well handicapped now back over fences, it is not a chance I want to take and plenty give more appeal at the prices.
A race for the ‘veterans’ and a race which was won by Vieux Lion Rouge last season and he is back again to have another crack. He is 6lb higher in the handicap and the ground is not soft. I think he could be caught on his feet as the tempo starts to increase.
The field should be taken along by Dancing Shadow which ensures you have pace in the race and the horse I can see running a big race is the Harry Fry trained SIR IVAN. He is a good ground horse who did not run a bad race last season with his form reading 32313 and his handicap mark fluctuating between 135 and 142. He was a good winner at Newbury back in March over 3m 2f, on good ground and today’s jockey Lorcan Murtagh in the saddle. In fact he rode him on 4 of his 5 starts last season so knows the horse well. He also claims a handy 3lb off his back today. Given he ran well at this level last season and he is a horse who has won first time out before the price looks decent enough to get involved. I think this shorter trip of 3 miles will be to his liking and trainer Harry Fry will be keen to get out of the blocks fast this season. I am confident he will be thereabouts and I am happy to play each way.
FIRST STREET 9/2 generally – 1 POINT WIN
The favourite here is Paso Doble who trained by Paul Nicholls and he has won this race 5 times in the last 10 years, so his horses deserve maximum respect. Trouble or doubts I am having with Paso Doble is that he is not your ‘normal’ National Hunt Horse’ who wins this race, instead he is a horse from the flat. I am also not 100% he wants 2m 4f and may be better over shorter. He will enjoy the ground but I am not totally convinced. He could prove me wrong and bolt up as he should improve this season but it won’t be with my money riding on him.
This year I feel it is lacking a stand out horse like McFabulous, Thyme Hill etc, certainly at first sight anyway and I am sure there are some good types in here but they are not that obvious.
The horse I want to get involved with is the Nicky Henderson trained FIRST STREET. This is not a race Nicky Henderson targets and has actually not had a runner in the race for the last 6 years, the fact they are sending this horse here, tells me he is in it to win it and confidence is high. He is a very well bred horse and is by Golden Horn. You heard it here first Golden Horn will go on to be an excellent National Hunt Sire given how the horses he is producing look. FIRST STREET has had 2 starts over hurdles and won both races. He is progressing nicely and his run at Warwick 3 weeks ago was a massive improvement. I expect him to continue progressing here and although it could possibly be a race too early, enough value is left in the price. WIN.