CHARLIE Longsdon is one of the brightest young trainers around and he has an excellent chance of landing his first Festival winner with PAINTBALL in this afternoon’s Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (4.40pm).
He was a hugely impressive winner of his maiden at Ludlow last month and a mark of 123 could seriously under-estimate his ability.
At 9/1 with Paddy Power, he is a decent each-way bet.
It doesn’t look to be the strongest Fred Winter with only four of the 23 runners winning their prep run. In the race’s six-year history, five winners had won their prep, so we can already eliminate the majority of the field.
Whitby Jack for the in-form Gary Moore stable must have a decent chance, but he has to carry 11st9lb which might just find him out. The obvious danger to our selection is the likely favourite Plan A trained by Gordon Elliott. He has clearly been laid out for the race by his shrewd trainer and it will be interesting to see what price he is sent off.
The Coral Cup (4.00pm) is one of the most competitive handicap hurdles of the entire season and the dogs have been barking in Ireland for Willie Mullins’ Call The Police for some time.
Second to Final Approach in the valuable MCR Hurdle, he has been kept back for this race and is likely to be sent off favourite. However, only one jolly has won this race in its 18-year history.
Nicky Henderson’s Aegean Dawn has recovered from last week’s setback and is still unbeaten, but he has to shoulder 11st3lb and 11 of the last 14 winners carried less than 11st. Nick Williams is a top notch trainer and I reckon he can take this with the progressive FOR NON STOP. He was an excellent second to Grands Crus at the Paddy Power meeting in November and on that form is absolutely thrown in here off a mark of 135.
Ireland don’t look to have their normally dominant hand in this year’s Champion Bumper, but you can be sure there will be a couple of promising youngsters lurking in the field. Colm Murphy could be set for a big day and I like the look of his RAISE THE BEAT at 10/1 with William Hill.