Another weekend of top-class action awaits racing fans with a number of high profile horses making their seasonal returns and early festival clues sure to be on offer as some of last year’s rivals go head-to-head.
ANTONY - Newbury 13.30
Gary Moore's 6yo landed a big pot in his last outing at Ascot, taking advantage of a featherweight to win over £56,000 for connections. With that in mind it's clear the horse owes connections nothing and any extra achievements for the rest of the season will be an added bonus. However, the style of that victory gives the indication there is still more improvement to come from this young chaser and he faces a number of generally exposed rivals again on Saturday. If Gary Moore can eke out a smidgen more from his charge, he should be up to being competitive this weekend and beyond.
KITTEN ROCK - 14.25 Gowran Park
An intriguing race where arguments can be made for each runner but it's Ed O'Grady's 6yo who catches the eye. A talented hurdler, his novice chasing career never really got off the ground last season. Saturday's run will be his first in 328 days and should be a good pointer on what connections can expect for the season ahead.
BRISTOL DE MAI - 15.30 Newcastle
After a look through the form of Nigel Twiston-Davies' 5yo - 21211122-2 - it would perhaps be harsh to question whether Bristol De Mai really has delivered on his undoubted talent, yet there is the nagging doubt he hasn't yet fulfilled his potential. Turned over at 1/2 and 2/5 in his last two outings, Saturday will see him tackle a new trip (2m7f) for the first time (he has won over 2 miles in the past). If this new trip does the trick, it opens up a number of potential avenues for the horse later in the season and it will be interesting to see if that is the case.
"He'll be back on soft ground so I think you'll see a better horse." Bristol De Mai runs in the Rehearsal Chase: https://t.co/NYX5wW5G49— At The Races (@AtTheRaces) November 24, 2016
MIN - 13.45 Navan
The big hype horse of last year, Willie Mullins' 5yo was put firmly in his place at the Cheltenham Festival in the Supreme by Altior. Despite that 7 length beating, he did still lead home the rest of the field, finishing well clear of a number of smart horses. An exciting addition to the chasing ranks this season, it will be interesting to see how/if he takes to life over the bigger obstacles. He should win Sunday's race with his head in his chest and all eyes will be on how well he jumps.
EMPIRE OF DIRT - 14.20 Navan
Entered in Saturday's Hennessy Gold Cup, connections have opted for Sunday's big handicap at Navan instead. A clear cut winner of a competitive handicap at the Festival in March, the 9yo has now switched stables to Gordon Elliott. That victory in March was in spite of his jumping and if his new connections have managed to clean up that side of things, there should be another big handicap in him off his current mark.