Trainer Anthony Honeyball could scarcely have his string in better order right now and Fountains Windfall looks the one to get another winner on the board for him at Newbury on Saturday.
The big guns were slayed on Friday as Thistlecrack and Unowhatimeanharry were floored in the Long Distance Hurdle while the promising Willoughby Court got the measure of odds-on favourite Yanworth in the key novices’ chase on day one of the Winter Festival.
Subsequent King George winner Thistlecrack won the John Francome Novices’ Chase (12:40) on this card a year ago and, while there may be nothing quite as good as him in the mix now, there are merits to all five runners.
Black Corton, the 13/8 favourite, is bidding for a six-timer for trainer Paul Nicholls and has developed a super relationship with Bryony Frost. He is nothing if not determined and won’t be mastered easily but Fountains Windfall looks the type to halt his winning run.
The Honeyball team have enjoyed six winners from 17 runners recently (35% strike rate) and Fountains Windfall was amongst them when he scored by 11-lengths on his chasing debut at Southwell.
That was an impressive start and he was rated best of these over hurdles so, at odds of 2/1, he has a good chance of progressing and making it two from two in this sphere in the hands of Aidan Coleman.
The Listed Gerry Feilden Hurdle (14:25) also attracts a select but intriguing field of seven runners and it could be worth weighing in behind 10/3 chance High Bridge.
Ben Pauling is another handler enjoying a rich vein of form and he saw Willoughby Court win on Friday at Newbury.
There’s plenty to like about his representative High Bridge in this two-mile, seven runner contest.
He reappeared with a pleasing effort behind Elgin at Ascot, form that looks oh-so promising given that rival went on to land the Grade 3 Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham next time out.
Regular rider Alex Ferguson claims a valuable 7lbs off his back now and at odds of 10/3 he can show his potential by taking care of some useful rivals like Charli Parcs and Mount Mews now.
The big race comes up at 15:00 and will be run for the first time as the Ladbrokes Trophy Chase, one of the seasons’ most sought after handicaps.
This contest doesn’t tend to get any easier to solve year on year but Harry Fry looks to have a suitable candidate this time in 7/1 chance American.
He made the perfect start over fences last season, winning all three outings and looking quite progressive as he did. He’s up 9lb from his win at Uttoxeter last time out in March and should be primed for a big run on his return here.
A rating of 157 is unlikely to be his ceiling and in Noel Fehily he has an ideal big-race partner to ensure his hand will be played to perfection.
Cheltenham Stayers’ Hurdle hero Nichols Canyon reappears in the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse on Sunday for Willie Mullins.
Over a two and a half mile trip however, he’ll do well to concede 7lb to the mare Apple’s Jade, who already has a winning running behind her this term. Gordon Elliott’s charge, formerly trained by Mullins, can oblige at odds of 6/4 to win the Grade 1 for the second year running.
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