Darlan can dazzle at Doncaster
Anita Chambers is backing Darlan to star at Doncaster as she provides a full preview of the day's action complete with tips.
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DONCASTER: 1.20 Utopie Des Bordes, 1.50 Aaim To Prosper, 2.25 Vintage Star, 3.00 DARLAN (NAP), 3.30 Ali Baba, 4.05 Pindar, 4.35 Furius.
WOLVERHAMPTON: 2.45 Easydoesit, 3.20 Russian Ballet, 3.50 Saharia, 4.25 Frontier Fighter, 4.55 The Mongoose, 5.25 Annelko, 5.55 Chain Reactor.
DOUBLE: Darlan and Utopie Des Bordes.
Plenty of trainers were delighted when Doncaster's extra Monday meeting was announced and Nicky Henderson should be doubly pleased as he has a few excellent chances on what is a fine card.
Champion Hurdle contender Darlan forms part of a smart but small field for the Listed 32Red Hurdle and if he is to serve it up to Hurricane Fly at Cheltenham next month, he really should be winning here.
The six-year-old was among the top performers in the novice ranks last term and showed he can mix it with the best this term too when winning the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton on Boxing Day.
A four-and-a-half-length winner over Raya Star, Darlan certainly put his best foot forward on his seasonal bow, despite the fact the heavy ground was not ideal.
A lack of early pace did not make it too much of a fitness test, but Darlan certainly showed he has gears as he accelerated away at the finish.
Reigning champion Rock On Ruby and Triumph hero Countrywide Flame also take their chance in a fascinating four-runner Doncaster heat, but Darlan should prove a cut above.
Henderson also takes the wraps off French recruit Utopie Des Bordes in the 32Red Casino Mares' Novices' Hurdle.
The five-year-old was more than useful in her native land winning a Grade One chase for four-year-olds last November, beating Paul Nicholls Arkle hopeful Fago in the process.
She subsequently joined Henderson's team and the Seven Barrows handler has been in no rush, waiting for this better ground before giving her a British debut.
While she switches back to hurdles here, Utopie Des Bordes looks a class act.
Nicholls himself should be on the scoresheet with Aaim To Prosper in the £32 Bonus At 32Red.com Maiden Hurdle.
The dual Cesarewitch winner found two miles a bit too sharp on his first crack at obstacles but this step up to nearly two and a half miles should see him in a much better light.
Frontier Fighter is worth noting as he tries handicap company for the first time at Wolverhampton.
David O'Meara's charge lines up in the coral.co.uk Handicap after winning his maiden over nine furlongs at Dunstall Park last month.
An ex-Darley horse, he did not make his debut until Boxing Day so obviously still has plenty to learn, and more than a little improvement still to come.
If everything falls right for Saharia, he should come out on top in the bookmakers.co.uk Gives You Free Bets Selling Stakes following a fair effort in second at Kempton last month.