It's a huge weekend for Nicky Henderson and our gallops watcher brings you up to speed with what's hot from the major training centres.
Ms Parfois - 3.00 Newbury
Ms Parfois can see of his close neighbour American and Beware The Bear and win the Ladbrokes Trophy for Anthony Honeyball at Newbury on Saturday. The Dorset trainer has been a growing force in jump racing over the past few seasons, and has found a really tough mare in Ms Parfois, one of the leading staying novice chasers last season. As we see year after year of this famous old handicap, young chasers have a great record in the race, and the daughter of Mahler is equipped with the three major assets needed for success: she stays well, jumps really well, and she has a touch of class. The winner of three chases so far, she finished runner-up in high level novice events, including at the Cheltenham and Aintree Festivals, but the handicapper looks to have given her a very workable mark. Although she has not had a warm-up race, she has been working very well, and a racecourse gallop at Newbury last week would have put an edge on her. American will also fly the West Country standard high. He was not right last season, and disappointed in this race, but seems back to his old self and Beware The Bear, the winner of the Reheasal Chase on this day last year, could be worth an each-way shot after a summer wind operation.
Lust For Glory (12.10 Newbury)
Highly-regarded Lust For Glory can kick a very busy and very important afternoon off on a high note for Beware The Bear’s trainer Nicky Henderson in the opening Ladbroke’s Mares Novices Hurdle. A winner of a bumper at Ludlow in the Spring, she ran out an emphatic winner of a good class event at the first meeting here, and her subsequent work suggests she has progressed from the run. She should be able to confirm the form with runner-up Posh Trish.
Santini (12.45 Newbury)
Henderson is never a man to rush his charges into action over three miles so it is significant he has targeted the Grade Two John Francome Novices Chase for Santini, one of the best staying novice hurdlers last season. He was beaten four and a half lengths by Kilbricken Storm in the Albert Bartlett at the Festival, but hopes are high this strapping gelding has improved sufficiently for his summer break to prove the superior over the larger obstacles. He has schooled very well.
Whatswrongwithyou (2.25 Newbury)
Whatswrongwithyou misses his date over fences for a tilt at the Ladbokes Intermediate Limited Handicap Hurdle and he looks worth support. He may ultimately prove even more effective over an extra mile and a half, but he may be a bit keen to get on with things first time out, and the faster gallop should suit. He has been working well and is another to have strengthened during his holiday break.
Rocklander (1.20 Newbury)
Tom George will have most attention focused on Newcastle, but he will have an eagle eye on Rocklander’s performance in the Sir Peter O’Sullivan Memorial Handicap Chase. Not far off the best novices last season, he looks well worth an each-way interest, despite a couple of low key efforts on his last two starts.
Summerville Boy (2.05 Newcastle)
George’s stable star Summerville Boy can take some mighty scalps and win the Grade One BetVictor Fighting Fifth Hurdle. So often far from a true Champion Hurdle test, this race looks sure to be a thriller this time around with the reigning title holder Buveur D’Air attempting to see off a high-class field. Although Samcro is also preferred in the betting, Summerville Boy showed an impressive turn of foot to mow down Betfair Hurdle winner Kalashnikov to win the Sky Bet Supreme at the Festival, and may be able to out-speed the Irish invader, who was classy enough in landing the Ballymore over two and half miles. However, he was given a race by another of George's high-class performers, Black Op, and he is seen much more of a stayer than the selection, with an inferior turn of foot. Much work has been done to improve Summerville Boy's Achilles heel, his jumping, and he has looked very good in his preparatory schools. Buveur D'Air will also be a tough nut to crack, but he may be short of a gallop or two, and this may be the time of the season when he is at his most vulnerable.
Coole Cody (2.20 Bangor)
Coole Cody can see off a talented field in the starsports.bet Beginners' Chase at Bangor. A very tough performer over hurdles last season, he won two novice events and a competitive handicap at Cheltenham before his season fell away. Although beaten just over 15 lengths by the very smart Bags Groove on his chasing bow at Ffos Las in October, the ground was quite lively that day and will be more to his liking this time around. He will also be much sharper for the run.
Simply The Betts (2.15 Doncaster)
Simply The Betts can put a disappointing effort at Ascot behind him with a big run in the Napoleons Casino Handicap Hurdle at Doncaster. The five-year-old found things happening a bit too quickly in that good class event, and he will be suited by this more demanding test of stamina.
Garrettstown (12.25 Carlisle)
Garrettstown is well thought of by Olly Murphy and was quietly fancied when a respectable sixth on his hurdling bow at Newbury three and a half weeks ago. He will be expected to step up on the performance in the Smarkets National Hunt Novices Hurdle at Carlisle.
Kodiac Pride (6.15 Wolverhampton)
It could be a good night for William Haggas at Wolverhampton and Kodiac Pride is expected to open his account at the second time of asking. The son of Kodiac bumped into a nice type in Motakhayyel on debut at Lingfield last month and has developed well in the interim. He's expected to have some big days ahead of him.
Dubai One (7.15 Wolverhampton)
Saeed bin Suroor's Dubai One appreciated the step up to seven furlongs when third at Chelmsford and has been eased 2lb since, something he looks capable of capitalising on in the Follow Top Tipster Templegate At Sun Racing Handicap. He's got a good draw in stall four to take up a prominent position.
My Target (7.45 Wolverhampton)
My Target has dropped like a stone in the ratings and could pop up at a big price in the sunracing.co.uk Handicap. He obviously prefers Lingfield but has won at Wolves in the past and it could be worth putting a line through his effort back on the all-weather last month when held up at the back and never able to get into a position to strike. Expect better here from Michael Wigham's charge.