Warren Greatrex saddles the favourite for Saturday's feature race at Newcastle.
Three Colours Red (2.40) will hopefully face less testing conditions than he did at Market Rasen last time and he wears a tongue-tie for the first time. He should be up to running very well in this company.
Later on the card, Ceann Sibheal (4.50) will appreciate the step up in trip and the form of his Towcester run has been boosted by the winner who has won two handicap hurdles since. Our fella is improving steadily and his young jockey, Ben Hicks, knows him well as he rides him in work every day.
Pennywell (2.20) looks to have a good chance in the mares’ novices’ hurdle at Exeter after her good run in defeat at Market Rasen last time. Dan Skelton’s mare sets a reasonable standard but she’s got a penalty to shoulder and I’m pretty hopeful that we can serve it up to her.
As I’ve said many times in this column, Hannah’s Princess (2.50) ideally wants a sound surface but she’s got one or two bits of form on soft ground and we are running her in this qualifier as we want to run in the final. She’s in great form at home and the final of this series is her long term aim, where we are hoping she might finally get some better ground.
I’m very excited about Saturday as we head up to Newcastle with a three-strong team that includes Ballyculla, the favourite for the Eider Chase (2.50).
I’ve got to say I think we go there with a huge chance as Ballyculla goes into the race in great form and conditions will be ideal. We’ve deliberately kept him fresh for this after his Bangor win and we know he’ll get the trip so he ticks a lot of boxes. I think he’s a better horse than last year, he’s much stronger, and he really ought to be very competitive off this sort of mark. He’s got to have a great chance.
April Dusk runs in the novices’ hurdle (3.25) but I would be concerned if the ground dried out as he wants it soft. His chase mark has been bumped up a couple of pounds despite him falling at Leicester last time, which isn’t ideal, so we want to conserve that mark for the time being as he has a novices’ handicap chase at Uttoxeter in May as a target.
I think Boudry (5.05) has been a little unlucky not to win either of his two starts so far and he must have a decent chance in the bumper. He was a little green in the finish at Towcester last time but he’s come on again for that run and I think this flat galloping track will suit him. He should go close in what doesn’t look the strongest of bumpers.
We are probably only going to have one runner at Kempton and that will be Blue Atlantic, who will come on plenty for this first run since May. He’s quite a big stuffy horse who can be a bit lazy, so he’s not easy to get fit at home. This will probably be a bit hot for him this time but he’s not fully exposed as a hurdler and I would expect him to be very competitive off this sort of mark when straight.
All the best,