I don’t have a ride in this 2m Grade 1 novice hurdle, but I think this could be between the first two home in the Supreme – and perhaps with a different result. I thought Melon did very well to finish second there given his inexperience, and he was also quite keen and made mistakes at a couple, and I think he should be a lot sharper here. I think the Cheltenham form is a fair bit stronger than Pingshou’s Aintree win.
I won on him on heavy ground at Clonmel last month and he probably hasn’t progressed as we hoped he would in his two subsequent starts. But he didn’t run too badly when finishing in midfield at Fairyhouse last time, he has a nice racing weight and Noel has his horses in very good form. So I think he has a chance of sorts, albeit not an obvious one, especially as this race is full of progressive, recent winners.
The Game Changer
He is one of the outsiders in here, and rightly so on recent form. Some of his better performances have come round here – I was on board when he won his Grade 3 here and he split Douvan and Sizing John in the Grade 1 Ryanair Novice Chase at this meeting last year – but his efforts of late have been very disappointing. I thought I may have been placed 3 out at Cheltenham but he faded badly and he has been pulled up in his two starts since, so he is very hard to fancy in this grade, although I will obviously be doing my best to pick up some prize money for Gordon. I am a big fan of Un De Sceaux but Fox Norton came by me as if he has just joined in at Aintree, and I was very impressed by him. It will be a tactical race but I don’t think there will a lot between those two.
He ran a cracker when third in the JLT, jumping and travelling well, and I hope I have chosen right here. The formbook says I have – his earlier defeat of Our Duke, albeit over 2m5f, obviously reads very well now, too – and I think the step back up to 3m will suit him. He has been freshened up since Cheltenham, and I have to be hopeful of a big run. He looks the one to beat.
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