Mersey Novices' Hurdle Guide 2021

Aintree - April 09 2021
Aintree 13:25
10
Harry Skelton

My Drogo

J:
 
Harry Skelton
T:
 
Dan Skelton
Age: 6
Weight: 11-4
OR: 150
Days: 35

Representing Team Skelton is six year old my Drogo. Only making his racing debut this season in a bumper at Cheltenham back in October, he shaped nicely and earmarked himself as one to follow.

Wasting no time he was sent hurdling and scored in maiden company and had short price favourite Flinteur Sacre back in fourth.
Feeling they had a good one on their hands, My Drogo was moved starkly up in grade for the Kennel Gate Novice Hurdle at Ascot in December and showed his tremendous finishing attitude to hit the line hard.

Having Soaring Glory back in third looks smart form as he pulled 6 lengths away from the subsequent Betfair Hurdle Winner.

Kept at Grade Two level for his next run up in Kelso in the Premier Novices’ Hurdle, he made light work of opposition and sauntered to a nine length victory.

The rest of the field strung out and nowhere near the class of the winner despite his penalty.

Certainly shaping like he’s ready to step up to Grade One company, his form has worked out well.

Certainly the best of the British he got 18 furlongs fine last time out so shouldn’t have any trouble over this flat 2m4f.

The one to beat.

Aintree - April 09 2021
Aintree 13:25
2
Rachael Blackmore

Ballyadam

J:
 
Rachael Blackmore
T:
 
Henry De Bromhead
Age: 6
Weight: 11-4
OR: 148
Days: 25

Arrived at Gordon Elliott’s yard with a big reputation as he was an expensive point to point recruit.

Well touted on rules debut, he struggled in deep ground and only managed to finish third.

Held onto for some better ground he bolted up on his second bumper run by a healthy 18 lengths, confirming the promise he showed between the flags. 

Moved to hurdles this season he’s been highly consistent. Winning his maiden without breaking a sweat.

Moved straight into graded company for the Royal Bond Novice hurdle. Sent off a prohibitive odds favourite, his jumping wasn’t the best but he class shone through to get the job done.

Really tested for quality at Christmas he bumped into the eventual Supreme winner Appreciate It who made light work of the field. Ballyadam only managing a poor fourth.

Putting the poor run behind him at the Dublin Racing Festival saw him get much closer to Appreciate It as only just under four lengths separated the pair.

Last seen in the Supreme at Cheltenham he looked booked for third place but the fall of Blue Lord saw him stay on well to claim the silver medal.

Jumping has been an issue but it could but helped going further in trip. Going to half a stride slower might help him set up his jumps better and he’s shaped like this trip won’t be an issue.

An interesting Irish raider.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
07/11/21NAV17Gd12-02
12/10/21PUN17Gd12-0F
10/04/21AIN20GS11-44
16/03/21CHL16.5Sft11-72
07/02/21LEO16Sft/Hy11-122
Aintree - April 09 2021
Aintree 13:25
4
Denis O'Regan

Dreal Deal

J:
 
Denis O'Regan
T:
 
Ronan M P McNally
Age: 6
Weight: 11-4
OR: 145
Days: 83

A rapid riser through the hurdle ranks this season having started the campaign rated 84 over timber.

Mixing it between the flat and jumps something must have clicked into place for the six year old as he struck up a sequence of five wins between codes.

Running in handicap hurdles he kept defying the handicapper’s attention to win with bundles in hand each time.

Feeling his progression as a handicapper reaching its limit, connections moved him up in grade for the Moscow Flyer hurdle at Punchestown.

Held up out the back, he swooped turning for home and contested the lead over the last. His ability to quickly change gear and jump accurately displayed as he extended his advantage in the run in.

His rise through the ranks looked to be peaking for Cheltenham but a slight issue meant he had to skip the festival.
Looking all pace a flat 2m4f here will suit.

If he can settle out the back he could flash home and go through the gears quickly again.

One for the each way shortlists.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
10/04/21AIN20GS11-47
17/01/21PUN16Hy11-41
01/11/20COR16Sft/Hy11-31
28/10/20PUN20.5Y/Sft10-71
13/10/20COR10Y/Sft9-41
Aintree - April 09 2021
Aintree 13:25
9
Brian Hughes

Minella Drama

J:
 
Brian Hughes
T:
 
Donald McCain
Age: 6
Weight: 11-4
OR: 143
Days: 48

Point to point recruit Minella Drama comes here for Donald McCain. Unable to win between the flags, he still showed enough raw ability to be purchased and sent for training under rules. Most notably coming second to Sir Gerhard.

Sent straight to hurdles under rules he was an eye-catching second to LLandinabo Lad whose jockey claimed a valuable 5lbs off his mounts back.

However it wasn’t long before he struck twice in low grade novice events. Winning both with bundles in hand despite the penalty and moving between good and heavy ground.

Clearly improving at a rapid rate of knots he was switched to graded company at Haydock for the Supreme trial. Travelling well throughout he was only collared late by Favoir who led where it mattered.

Dropped to listed company for his most recent run, coming down slightly in grade paid dividends as Minella Drama easily saw off Stoner’s Choice, who has since franked the form.

Only a small field to deal with he again showed strong finishing application despite moving up in trip to 2m4f.

Likely to unlock further improvement, he’s certainly looking more at home over this longer distance and is certainly in with a shout to hit the frame moving back into graded company.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
08/11/21CRL16GS11-22
29/10/21UTT16GS11-81
10/04/21AIN20GS11-42
21/02/21MAR20.5Sft11-31
23/01/21HAY15.5Hy11-42
Aintree - April 09 2021
Aintree 13:25
1
Jonathan Burke

Adrimel

J:
 
Jonathan Burke
T:
 
Tom Lacey
Age: 6
Weight: 11-4
OR: 142
Days: 22

An easy point to point winner in March 2019, Tom Lacey took charge of Adrimel and started him off in bumpers.

Debuting at Uttoxeter he made light work of a weak field on deep ground to win by a healthy 26 lengths. Shrugging off a penalty for his win to take another bumper at Doncaster, he was sent for the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham.

Outclassed against better rivals he only managed 16th of the 23 runners. When the race developed, he simply didn’t have the pace to go with the leaders.

Switched to hurdles for this campaign, he made a perfect start to life at Sandown over two miles, winning with relative ease. Defying a penalty over two miles on deep ground at Haydock, he looked smart and ready for a step up in trip and grade.

Doing just that to contest the Leamington Hurdle at Warwick, he showed stamina and tactical speed on deep ground to grind out a Grade Two win.

Fancied for stepping up in trip again, he recently ran in the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham last month. Prominent in the field, when the race developed he dropped away tamely and failed to complete.

It's not guaranteed that he gets three miles. He looked at home over 2m4f at Warwick and struggled to get home at Cheltenham.

He might struggle for pace as the field gets racing for home.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
10/04/21AIN20GS11-4P
19/03/21CHL24GS11-5P
16/01/21WAR21Hy11-31
02/12/20HAY15.5Hy11-51
08/11/20SAN16Sft11-01
Aintree - April 09 2021
Aintree 13:25
11
Nico de Boinville

Pipesmoker

J:
 
Nico de Boinville
T:
 
Nicky Henderson
Age: 6
Weight: 11-4
OR: 135
Days: 51

Trained by Nicky Henderson, Pipesmoker has had a stalled career as a hurdler.

Debuting in a bumper back in May 2019 he ran well but was no match for the impressive Pink Sheets and had to settle for second place.

Given the summer off to develop, he came back to Newbury in a hot novice contest won by Chantry House. Stolen Silver in second, Pipesmoker in third and Pileon in fourth, it certainly looked a strong piece of novice form.

Moved up in trip for his only other run that season, 2m4f on very soft ground at Ascot proved to be a little too taxing and he had to settle for second behind Sporting John.

Unlucky to bump into some good sorts in his first season over hurdles, he returned to the track recently after a long break and despite going off favourite had to settle for third place.

A blunder at the last seemed to put an end to his challenge but he did run well considering the long lay off.

Moving up markedly in grade now, he did bump into some graded performers last season and could have more to offer now he’s had a run under his belt.

Not one to be underestimated.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
16/11/21LIN16GS10-121
28/10/21FFO20Sft11-44
10/04/21AIN20GS11-4P
18/02/21SAN16Hy11-23
15/02/20ASC19.5Sft11-02
Aintree - April 09 2021
Aintree 13:25
6
Tom Cannon

Jay Bee Why

J:
 
Tom Cannon
T:
 
Alan King
Age: 6
Weight: 11-4
OR: 136
Days: 43

Another winner from between the flags who’s since moved to race under rules. Under the care of Alan King, Jay Bee Why debuted for his new connections in a bumper last season but failed to make an impression.

Put away until December of this year, he returned as a hurdler and won a maiden at a big price comfortably. Despite being 14/1 in the market he handily took apart a large field.

Moved up immediately in grade he contested the Leamington Hurdle won by Adrimel but had to settle for fifth. He was only beaten three lengths though and just looked like he lacked the pace to go with the front four.

Last seen dropping right back in grade to a low grade novice event, he carried his penalty with no issues and cantered home at Warwick.

Looking held on that form with Adrimel, he’s likely to find a couple too good to get competitive.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
10/11/21EXE19GS11-32
10/04/21AIN20GS11-45
26/02/21WAR19Sft11-81
16/01/21WAR21Hy11-05
10/12/20WAR21Sft11-01
Aintree - April 09 2021
Aintree 13:25
5
Sam Twiston-Davies

Guard Your Dreams

J:
 
Sam Twiston-Davies
T:
 
Nigel Twiston-Davies
Age: 5
Weight: 11-4
OR: 135
Days: 24

Trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies and ridden by son Sam is Guard Your Dreams. Prolific since starting life under rules he’s won three of his six runs over hurdles this season.

Second to the talented Bear Ghylls in a bumper on his only run last season he was put away ready for a hurdles campaign.

Reappearing at Bangor he won a maiden despite a mistake at the last flight. Beaten on his next start, he did however manage to defy his penalty at Bangor again.

Switched to handicaps he managed to make light work of a mark of 128 at Sandown on bottomless ground before being an eye-catcher to finish sixth in the Betfair Hurdle.

Shaping like his future would lie over further than the minimum trip he lined up in the Coral Cup over 2m5f at Cheltenham last month.

Well found in the market, he failed to see out the stiff finish over the new trip and faded back into 7th place.

A switch to a flatter course for 2.5 miles is certain to suit but it’s unknown as to how he will handle himself in graded novice company.

Will do well to get involved.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
20/11/21ASC19.5Gd11-03
22/10/21CHL20Gd11-121
10/04/21AIN20GS11-43
17/03/21CHL21GS10-67
21/02/21NBY16.5GS10-96
Aintree - April 09 2021
Aintree 13:25
7
David Bass

Llandinabo Lad

J:
 
David Bass
T:
 
Tom Symonds
Age: 6
Weight: 11-4
OR: 141
Days: 77

A name that has cropped up a few times so far, Llandinabo Lad has some form with some with rivals who line up again here.

Representing Tom Symonds the six year old didn’t manage to win in bumpers but took to hurdles immediately despite having almost a year off the track.

A very good winner at Bangor on debut, he swiftly moved into listed company and scored well again over the minimum trip to beat Do Your Job by over four lengths.

Improving, he moved up to Grade Two company in the Kennel gate hurdle at Ascot but was beaten handily by My Drogo. Seemingly tapped for speed, he stayed on well to be second.

Last seen beaten by another Skelton charge when at Haydock for the Grade Two Supreme Trial.

Maybe struggling in very deep ground, he never got competitive and failed to justify favouritism. Trialing home last of the five runners.

He’s shaped like going further will suit and a sounder surface will likely be more to his liking too.

Considering how close he got to My Drogo at Ascot he’s a decent each way price if you can forgive his last run.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
10/04/21AIN20GS11-4P
23/01/21HAY15.5Hy11-95
18/12/20ASC15.5Sft11-52
21/11/20HAY15.5Sft11-01
27/10/20BAN16.5Sft10-71
Aintree - April 09 2021
Aintree 13:25
13
Jonjo O'Neill Jr

Striking A Pose

J:
 
Jonjo O'Neill Jr
T:
 
Colin Tizzard
Age: 5
Weight: 11-4
OR: 128
Days: 28

Winning a point to point by a very wide margin saw this five year old come to Colin Tizzard’s yard to try his hand under rules.

Unable to win on his first two starts over the minimum trip in novice events, it wasn’t until he moved up in trip that he showed what he was capable of.

Following up well despite the penalty on his next start, it seemed that the penny had dropped and connections had found what he needed.

However, moving up to Grade Three company found him out and he failed to complete at Sandown when last seen.

Probably more likely to be competitive in handicaps, he looks well out of his depth in a Grade One here.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
10/11/21EXE19GS10-91
10/04/21AIN20GS11-4UR
13/03/21SAN20Sft11-9P
26/02/21EXE18.5Sft11-61
03/12/20WCN21.5Sft12-01
Aintree - April 09 2021
Aintree 13:25
12
Ben Jones

Straw Fan Jack

J:
 
Ben Jones
T:
 
Sheila Lewis
Age: 6
Weight: 11-4
OR: 134
Days: 21

The outsider of the field is Straw Fan Jack for Sheila Lewis. Second in a point to point, he was a disappointing last on his start under rules in a bumper.

Not showing musch in subsequent hurdle runs, he finished fourth of 12 and then pulled up in his last run of the 2019-20 season.

A faller on reappearance this season, he did however manage to strike on his next run when upped in trip at Hereford.

Very unlucky when switched to handicap company when bumping into progressive Fifty Ball, he just couldn’t give 11lbs away to that rival and went down by a head.

Undeterred, he struck again in a low novice event by 30 lengths and looked a strong stayer in doing so.

Last seen kept in a lower grade, he couldn’t concede the double penalty and lost by a length and a half to Pasvolsky.

Untested in deeper waters, the line of form with Fifty Ball looks strong with that rival coming second in the Betfair Hurdle.
However he’s a big price and probably isn’t up to Grade One standard.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
14/11/21CHL16.5Gd10-100
23/10/21CHL16.5Gd11-122
10/04/21AIN20GS11-46
20/03/21KEM16Gd11-92
05/12/20AIN17Sft11-41
Aintree - April 09 2021
Aintree 13:25
8
Harry Cobden

Lucky One

J:
 
Harry Cobden
T:
 
Paul Nicholls
Age: 6
Weight: 11-4
OR: 143
Days: 35

A three year old hurdler over in France, Lucky One moved into the care of Willie Mullins but only had one run for the master of Closutton.

Unable to land a blow he was moved over to Paul Nicholls’ stable with the rest of the Jared Bloodstock owned horses.

Coming back off a long lay off, he ran in a handicap off 127 but was well beaten back in seventh of only eight runners.

Switched to maiden company and kept at 2m4f, he ran better but only managed to come second to What About Time.
Dropping in trip yielded success.

Over two miles he absolutely bolted up at Southwell by a wide margin. Looking to capitalise on his found form, he didn’t manage to retain the winning thread on his next start only 10 days later and finished in third.

Kept in novice company he was given some time off and managed to defy his penalty to another easy win at Wincanton.

Looking to keep his progress going, he went for a Grade Two at Kelso but struggled to lie up with better horses and only came fifth.

Moving back up in trip here is likely to suit but he was well found out for quality last time out and is unlikely to be a feature here.

DateCourseDistanceTypeWeightPosition
10/04/21AIN20GS11-4F
06/03/21KEL18GS11-25
04/02/21WCN15.5Hy11-81
11/12/20CHL17GS11-43
01/12/20STH16GS11-01

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