Grade One Top Novices' Hurdle Guide 2021

Aintree - April 08 2021
Aintree 13:20
6
Nico de Boinville

Dusart

J:
 
Nico de Boinville
T:
 
Nicky Henderson
Age: 6
Weight: 11-4
OR: N/A
Days: 155

The Nicky Henderson inmate has only ever been seen once racing. But the six year old made an immediate impression when handily defeating Soaring Glory. 

Debuting back in November at Newbury, the son of Flemensfirth wasn’t un-fancied in the market despite being less experienced than his main market rival. Soaring Glory had three bumper runs and a hurdle win already to his name. 

Soaring Glory in fact beat subsequent Challow Hurdle winner Bravemansgame on hurdle debut but couldn’t give weight away to Dusart.

The form has taken some serious boosting since with Soaring Glory being a runaway winner of the Betfair Hurdle and not being disgraced in the Supreme last month. 

We don’t know a lot about Dusart, but what we have seen has been highly impressive and subsequently well advertised. 
He lacks experience of some of his rivals but clearly has raw ability. 

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
02/04/22AYR24GS11-121
16/03/22CHL24.5Sft11-45
02/02/22EXE24.5GS11-81
12/01/22LEI22.5GS11-11
09/04/21AIN16.5GS11-43
Aintree - April 08 2021
Aintree 13:20
8
Harry Skelton

Third Time Lucki

J:
 
Harry Skelton
T:
 
Dan Skelton
Age: 6
Weight: 11-4
OR: 144
Days: 21

Team Skelton combine with this six year old who’s already amassed a rating of 144. 

An eye-catching 4th in last season’s Champion Bumper, Third Time Lucki took to hurdles well and easily obliged at short odds on debut.

He followed up with ease despite a penalty and was sent for a graded contest. However in the Grade Two Supreme trial at Cheltenham’s November meeting the field gave For Pleasure too much rope at the front and he wasn’t for catching. 

The second place was quickly left behind as another impressive win at Kempton soon followed. 

He’s not managed to win since however. Sent up to Musselburgh for the Scottish Supreme and sent off 10/11 favourite, a mistake at the last put paid to his chances. He sprawled on landing and weakened quickly back into fourth. 

With the wins being hard to come by his connections tried to make the most of his handicap mark by sending him for the County Hurdle at Cheltenham.

He hit the front two out, led on the run in but was caught up the hill and faded back into sixth. 
Clearly well thought of, he’s had some bad luck when going for the bigger prizes.

Back against novice company he should go better and a flat, speed favouring track will be in his favour. Should be right in the mix. 

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
04/11/22EXE17.5Gd10-114
09/04/22AIN16GS11-43
12/02/22WAR16.5GS11-52
29/01/22DON16.5Gd11-51
04/12/21SAN15.5GS11-23
Aintree - April 08 2021
Aintree 13:20
2
Sam Twiston-Davies

Any News

J:
 
Sam Twiston-Davies
T:
 
Neil Mulholland
Age: 6
Weight: 11-4
OR: 143
Days: 34

Trained by Neil Mulholland, point to point recruit Any News makes his second dip into graded company here. 

A faller between the flags before debuting in a bumper back in October last year. An easy winner he sauntered to a seven length victory. 

Not wanting to waste any time with him, he was sent hurdling immediately and debuted over timber only a month later. He continued his perfect run under rules with an emphatic 10 length victory in a small field. 

Moved up in grade he contested a novice event at Cheltenham in December but couldn’t give weight away to Make Me A Believer and finished second. 

We last saw him at Kelso in the Grade Two Premier Novices’ Hurdle. Despite being well fancied in the market he made a bad mistake four out and unshipped Sam Twiston-Davies from the saddle before getting competitive. 

His form this season has been solid enough and the betting last time out suggested he’d have gone close in graded company. He’s best on a sharp track and could take another step forward.

Not to be dismissed. 

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
15/01/22WAR24Sft11-23
10/11/21EXE19GS11-84
22/10/21CHL16Gd11-23
30/09/21WAR16.5Gd11-22
08/05/21HAY15.5Sft11-76
Aintree - April 08 2021
Aintree 13:20
1
David Bass

Ajero

J:
 
David Bass
T:
 
Kim Bailey
Age: 6
Weight: 11-4
OR: 140
Days: 17

Picked up after one bumper run in Ireland for Thomas Mullins, Ajero came to Kim Bailey for the new season and transitioned to hurdles well. 

Despite being a touch fresh and running a bit freely he still managed to be a narrow second on his hurdle debut. 

A change in tactics followed for his next run, David Bass just let him bowl along in front and the six year old didn’t see another rival from pillar to post.

The same tactics were applied at Kempton for his next run where he shrugged off the penalty to make all the running again. 

Clearly being underestimated by the handicapper, he was given a lenient looking mark of 129 following his second hurdle success.

Keen to take advantage he’s since won two low grade handicap hurdles with relative ease. Defying marks of 129 and more recently 134 has seen him climb the ratings to 140. 

As he is improving at a fast rate it’s worth connections taking their chance at a higher grade. He’s moved out of novice company for his two handicap wins and acquitted himself well against more experienced rivals. 

The concern might be he’s yet to go left handed and has a tendency to hang to his right. Might be best avoided going up in grade and going the other way around for the first time. 

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
20/08/22SAN10Gd9-912
30/07/22GOO9GF9-121
17/06/22ASC12GF8-102
27/05/22CHP10Gd10-22
19/05/22SAN10GF10-22
Aintree - April 08 2021
Aintree 13:20
3
Kevin Sexton

Belfast Banter

J:
 
Kevin Sexton
T:
 
Peter Fahey
Age: 6
Weight: 11-4
OR: 135
Days: 21

Peter Fahey has kept this six year old busy this season. No less than 12 runs under his belt already this campaign. 

Debuting over hurdles back in July, he hit the post over two miles and hinted he could prefer a longer trip. Sent further for his next run ,he hit the post again and was beaten by Jon Snow.

It took a further four runs over hurdles for him to shed his maiden tag. Mixing between 2 and 2m4f miles he finally got his head in front at Galway over the minimum trip. 

Subsequently beaten in a novice event, he tried his hand at handicapping and was a respectable 5th behind Not So Sleepy at Ascot in a Grade Three off a lowly looking mark of 129. 

Brought over to the UK again for the Scottish Supreme he only managed to finish sixth of seven runners. 

Back in Ireland he moved up in grade and put in a strong performance behind Echoes In Rain who’s since advertised the form well. 

Last seen at the Cheltenham festival in the County Hurdle 21 days ago, Belfast Banter sprung a surprise on punters and bookies alike when winning at 33/1.

Sneaking in at the bottom of the weights he swooped from the rear to challenge late and pulled away from Petit Mouchoir up the run in. 
Moving out of handicap company again might leave him exposed and a flatter course might not be to his liking.

Maybe best avoided. 

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
15/09/22BBA20Fm10-47
17/08/22SAR19Fm10-64
07/05/22GME17Sft11-42
06/11/21WCN15Gd11-43
24/09/21LIS16Gd/Y11-10F
Aintree - April 08 2021
Aintree 13:20
7
Harry Bannister

For Pleasure

J:
 
Harry Bannister
T:
 
Alex Hales
Age: 6
Weight: 11-4
OR: 144
Days: 24

Alex Hales is represented by free going sort For Pleasure. Debuting over hurdles as a four year old he failed to notch a single victory in his first season over timber so returned as a novice for this season. 

Beaten on hurdle return back in July, he moved into handicap company and was highly underestimated off a mark of 107. He made every yard and easily cantered to a 22 length victory. 

Again given his head at the front he notched another handicap win and defied a penalty to win a novice event. 

Sent off favourite for a listed race he hung badly left and raced too freely. He only managed to finish fourth of the five runners. 

Keeping the faith he moved up to Grade Two company at Cheltenham next time out and going back left handed suited. Given way too much freedom at the head of the field he made every yard to score at 14/1. 

After a Summer and Autumn campaign he was then given a 98 day break to freshen up before returning to the track for the Betfair Hurdle. Sent off at long odds, a mark of 145 was too stiff and he tamely dropped back into 14th. 

Last month For Pleasure contested the Supreme at Cheltenham and his exuberant running style saw him cling on to third place at an eye watering 40/1. 

He only has one way of doing things and that’s from the front. If he’s given a soft lead he could dictate things but other runners are wise to his game now. He might not be able to bully this field. 

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
16/10/22KEM16Gd11-24
26/09/22NAB16.5Gd12-13
09/04/22AIN16GS11-44
16/03/22CHL16Hy10-8PU
12/02/22WAR16.5GS11-04
Aintree - April 08 2021
Aintree 13:20
10
Harry Cobden

Houx Gris

J:
 
Harry Cobden
T:
 
Paul Nicholls
Age: 4
Weight: 10-12
OR: 130
Days: 24

A four year old for Paul Nicholls and Harry Cobden here. Houx Gris was moved over from France following an AQPS win and a three year old hurdle win. 

An exciting prospect moving over to England, Ditcheat were keen to test his quality and moved him straight into a Grade One in his first run this side of the Channel. 
A mistake two out saw him weaken rapidly and he finished third of the eight runners, but 23 lengths behind the winner Adagio. 

A promising enough run for his first attempt over here he was then put away to protect his handicap mark before Cheltenham.

A mark of 128 looked more than workable and he was sent off a well fancied 11/2 second favourite. 

Trying to make the most of his four year old allowance, he gets weight from the rest of the field.

Only carrying a light weight in a handicap he acquitted himself well and he now has to prove his credentials in Grade One company again. 

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
09/04/21AIN16.5GS10-12UR
16/03/21CHL16.5GS10-114
09/01/21CHP16Sft11-03
22/10/20AUT17.5Hy10-101
26/09/20AUT18VSft10-63
Aintree - April 08 2021
Aintree 13:20
5
Brendan Powell

Do Your Job

J:
 
Brendan Powell
T:
 
Michael Scudamore
Age: 7
Weight: 11-4
OR: 136
Days: 34

For Michael Scudamore and Brendan Powell, seven year old Do Your Job will be having his third crack at graded company here. 

A point to point winner, he had his first run under rules for Claire Dyson but was a tame fifth of seven. 

Moved to Michael Scudamore’s yard he was kept at 2m4f but finished second to Brinkley at the end of last season. 

Given a long break through the summer to strengthen up he returned to the track in October and cut through the mud well at Ffos Las to win a low grade novice event.

He quickly followed up in another novice event despite the penalty. 
Clearly improving, connections moved him up to listed company and he ran well to be second at Haydock to LLandinabo Lad.

Undeterred from the loss he moved up in grade again for the Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown. Only managing fourth of the seven runners he was no match for Metier and faded badly up Sandown’s stiff finish. 

His most recent run came at Kelso at the start of March in a Grade Two novice event won by My Drogo. Despite getting 5lbs from the previous graded winner, Do Your Job was second by 9.5 lengths but was well clear of the remainder. 

His jumping can let him down and got really scratchy towards the end of his last run. Although talented, he struggled to lie up in Grade Two company so is likely to find this too hot.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
18/11/22ASC21GS11-115
23/10/22AIN20GS10-106
02/04/22AYR20.5GS11-01
26/02/22NCS20GS11-91
29/01/22DON16.5Gd11-02
Aintree - April 08 2021
Aintree 13:20
9
Paddy Brennan

Timberman

J:
 
Paddy Brennan
T:
 
Fergal O'Brien
Age: 6
Weight: 11-4
OR: N/A
Days: 35

A runner for Fergal O’Brien and Paddy Brennan, six year old Timberman has had a stuttered start to life in racing. 

Second in a point to point back in May 2019, he made his rules debut for Nicky Henderson in a bumper won by Son Of Camas in the November of that same year.

No time was wasted to get him jumping as only a month later he made his hurdle debut but he only managed 5th behind Fiddlerontheroof. 

Not seen then for 408 days, he reemerged in a jumpers bumper in late January of this year but now in the care of O’Brien. A decent return effort after a long lay off saw him finish a close up fourth. 

Again due to the disrupted jump schedule he ran in another jumpers bumper and finished a close up second this time but was demoted to third for causing interference. 

He finally got his chance over hurdles again when running in a novice hurdle early last month where he dispatched Gylo handily at Doncaster. 

Clearly suffering some sort of issue that kept him off the track for so long, connections have had to be patient but he repaid their patience with a good win. 

It’s hard to assess where he’s at. He’s only had two runs over hurdles and has yet to even earn a handicap mark. A big price as he comes with question marks. 

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
16/05/22FFO16Gd11-21
23/03/22LUD16Gd11-95
22/02/22TAU16.5GS10-114
22/11/21KEM16Gd10-121
23/10/21CHL16.5Gd10-123
Aintree - April 08 2021
Aintree 13:20
4
Bryony Frost

Bombyx

J:
 
Bryony Frost
T:
 
Lucy Wadham
Age: 6
Weight: 11-4
OR: 122
Days: 13

Already a big price for this for Lucy Wadham, Bombyx had 10 runs on the flat, winning twice and achieving a rating of 98 on the level. 

An issue must have arisen with his fitness as he was then given a mammoth 620 days off the track and left the care of James Fanshawe for Lucy Wadham’s yard. 

Running in a maiden hurdle only a few weeks ago, he overcame the long absence to be a comfortable winner at short odds on timber debut. 

Not given much time to rest, he was sent out again only 10 days later for another run. Either the time between races or the penalty got to him as he finished third of the nine runners. 

Classy on the flat, we’ve not seen the best of him over hurdles. He’s having his third run in a short space of time and certainly hasn’t shown enough to suggest he will be competitive in a Grade One. 

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
03/05/21KEM16Gd10-112
09/04/21AIN16.5GS11-4PU
27/03/21NBY16.5GS11-63
17/03/21HUN16Sft11-21
06/07/19HAY12GF8-1313

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