By Tom Stanley
The All-Weather action returned nothing for this column last week and so back to the relative safety of the Jumps, which saw our only success a week ago. Hopefully the weather does not look set to ruin the party.
My eye was drawn to this race due to the presence of Oakley Hall, who nearly went in at a big price for this column back in November.
That was his first spin over hurdles and, with one subsequent run over timber, I fancy he could be one for handicaps down the line and is due a mark after this.
One who has a mark but is continuing down the maiden hurdle route is Perfect Harmony.
He wasn’t beaten far in the Champion Bumper last term and there is no disgrace in having run into the likes of On The Blind Side and Count Meribel over hurdles.
It is a strong race, but he has the best form and a drop back in trip should see him tough to beat.
I am hoping it is a good ten minutes for Alan King, who saddles The Blues Master under Wayne Hutchinson at Huntingdon.
A former Mark Johnston inmate, he was going well on hurdles bow before an error two out cost him all chance.
This is a lesser race on paper than that which he contested at Newbury last time and he gets weight off some older rivals. He will want further in time, based upon his flat form, but it is early days for a trainer who excels with these types.
He was progressive last term before he was pulled up at Ludlow in February and he was not seen again until early November.
He was well beaten that day but shaped with plenty of promise on his second start this term at Sandown on testing ground last time. He was not foot perfect, notably at the Pond Fence, but kept on nicely and this mark still looks within him with a return to three miles a big plus.
Emma Lavelle, who is on Luck On Sunday this weekend with me in Nick Luck's absence, is enjoying a good season and Allez Jacques looks a horse who can progress in handicap company.
One of two in the race for owner Tim Syder, he looked a horse who wanted further in bumpers and in maiden hurdle company and shaped similarly over 2m5f on handicap debut.
They crawled in just a four-runner affair that day but this big field and step up in trip should provide just the sort of test he needs.
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