Herald Champion Novice Hurdle Guide

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1. Aramon

Trainer - Willie Mullins

Jockey - David Mullins

Decent year hurdling, and now returns to Ireland and to a venue he is yet to race on for a trainer who sports four of the six chances in the field.

His last two trips on home soil have merited a first and second in a Grade One, and he was not far away from Felix Desjy in the Betway Top Novices Hurdle at Aintree almost a month ago.

Sixth to Klassical Dream in the Supreme, and a return to better ground will be a strong point.

2. Champagne Platinum

Trainer - Nicky Henderson

Jockey - Mark Walsh

Champagne Platinum is the unknown quantity in the field, having only raced twice for former Champion Trainer Nicky Henderson, with both starts coming at Newbury in December.

A point winner on soft over three miles, this five-year-old grey looked impressive backing up his debut in an Introductory Hurdle over two miles, but skipped his possible entries at Cheltenham last month.

Sold for £250,000 at the Aintree sales last year, we could see the best of him now taking his belated step-up in class.

3. Felix Desjy

Trainer - Gordon Elliott

Jockey - Jack Kennedy

Felix Desjy was brave when getting the better of Aramon at Aintree just under a month ago, and showed his potential talents when finishing fifth in the Supreme at Cheltenham.

He was sixth last year in the Champion Bumper, and the only thing he has been lacking over hurdles has been consistency.

Was also a course and distance winner back in January when taking the Grade Two Moscow Flyer on good ground, so a big player in this.

4. Klassical Dream

Trainer - Willie Mullins

Jockey - Ruby Walsh

A fine purchase from France for Mrs Joanne Coleman, Ruby Walsh maintains the ride on Supreme Novice Hurdle winner Klassical Dream.

The five-year-old landed the hat-trick of wins for new trainer Willie Mullins after back-to-back successes at Leopardstown - the second of which in the Grade One Chanelle Pharma Novice Hurdle.

Interesting to see where he goes after this, but arrives here as the one to beat.

5. Mister Blue Sky

Trainer - Willie Mullins

Jockey - Danny Mullins

Willie Mullins also has the five-year-old Mister Blue Sky, who was trained on the flat by Sylvester Kirk - winning a couple of handicaps at Sandown and at Windsor.

Over jumps however, he is two from three for his new year, only missing out by half-a-length in a Listed affair at Naas six or seven weeks ago.

He returned to winning ways in a first-time Grade Two having stepped up in class not down after defeat, and with the trainer keeping the faith perhaps there is more to offer.

6. Quick Grabim

Trainer - Willie Mullins

Jockey - Paul Townend

Quick Grabim - who was forced to miss the early Spring festivals due to injury makes his long awaited return, looking to score in his second career Grade One over hurdles.

He was victorious in the Royal Bond at Fairyhouse back in December, getting the better of National Hunt regulars Aramon and Commander Of Fleet - both who have had good seasons as novices.

The seven-year-old who has a history of interferences, should be seen as no shock winner if passing the post in front again.

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