THE north is carrying the torch of national hunt racing, with Musselburgh being the only card on Saturday with their John Smiths Cheltenham trials day.
And it’s back to Scotland again tomorrow (Wednesday) for Kelso’s strongest card of the year where the Class 2 Moorebattle Hurdle, won last year by Peddlers Cross, is the highlight.
The Class 2 race is often used as a prep for Cheltenham and leading novice SIMONSIG lines up here for the Nicky Henderson yard. The six year old won a bumper and novice hurdle, both in impressive fashion, before running into Fingal Bay in a class two novices hurdle. Fingal Bay subsequently won the Grade 1 Challow Hurdle, further improving the reputation of the Henderson horse. The two miles two furlongs trip should suit here. Marsh Warbler, a decent yardstick who will provide a good benchmark, looks most likely to finish second for fans of the forecast.
The Keith Reveley yard are still in good heart and, with son James booked on board, the consistent KINGS GREY should go close in the valuable novices chase. He finished third last time out in a £25k handicap chase at Doncaster, looking all over the winner two out before just getting out-battled late on. Tara Royal, fifth that day, further franked the form when winning the Scottish Champion Chase on Saturday.
Bellvano for AP McCoy, Nicky Henderson and JP McManus will be the likely favourite and came up cruising in a Newbury novice chase behind Cedre Bleu but found little off the bridle, eventually losing by 2 ½ lengths. Given Kelso’s stiff finish, the favourite could be found wanting here again and the tactically astute James Reveley may pinch this from the front.
PREMIER SAGAS runs for trainer Nicky Richards in an amateur riders handicap chase and, with the trainer’s daughter on board, the consistent eight year old can go close. After returning from a 209 day absence he ran well over course and distance, finishing fourth, before a good second behind the Jennie Candlish trained Fiendish Flame. He has been lowered 2lb in the handicap and the extra 3 furlongs should suit.
ROS CASTLE put his novice hurdle form behind him when winning a handicap hurdle last time out at Ayr under a good ride from Wilson Renwick. In-form jockey Richie McGrath has the ride here and the step up in trip should suit the unexposed six year old, who has only been raised four pounds by the handicapper. The 18 furlongs trip should bring more improvement out of him and although this looks tougher, with Sophonie and Prince Blackthorn present, he should go close.
2.10 (Kelso) Kings Grey
2.40 (Kelso) Ros Castle
3.10 (Kelso) Premier Sagas (Nap)
3.40 (Kelso) Simonsig