A contest the Master of Seven Barrows, Nicky Henderson (pictured), has won 4 times, most recently with Polly Peachum in 2013, and he goes to war with another likely looking type on Saturday with the 6yo daughter of Scorpion, She Might Bite. A winning Irish Pointer, she failed to catch the judges eye in her first four races over hurdles, but following a promising second at Sandown, on that 4th attempt in February, she looked the most likely winner when brought down at the 3rd last in a Ludlow Class3 Handicap, (3m Gd) 26 days later. Out of a winning Irish Point to Pointer, and Hurdle winner, she looks to be going the right way, and if over her fall at Ludlow has to be of interest.
The Seamus Mullins trained Maebh beat She Might Bite by 1 1/2L when the Henderson mare was making her hurdles debut last November, (Warwick 2m5f Gd) and on only 2lbs worse terms on Saturday certainly comes into the picture. However the Henderson horse has probably made the greater progress in the meantime, but it’s worth noting that Seamus won this in 2004 with Kentford Grebe so should know what is required. Having been well beaten last time over 3 miles this current 20/1 shot is easy to dismiss, but back over Saturday’s trip on Good ground, she could represent some value.
Barbury Castle Handler, Alan King (pictured) has also had success in the race, (Tante Sissi 2012) and he runs the quietly progressive 5yo, Sixties Belle. The daughter of Gold Well has only been on a racecourse four times but took a serious step forward last time when going down by 2 1/4L to Loveherandleaveher in a Huntingdon Maiden, (2m 4f Gd) 30 days ago. Showing her inexperience, she only got going between the last two obstacles and finished really strongly. Alan trained the mother, Over Sixty, to win Five times, and achieve a rating of 135, so it won’t come as any great surprise if Sixties Belle proves to be considerably better than her current mark of 111, and brings the trophy back to Barbury Castle for a second time.
The Lucy Wadham trained, The White Mouse, is 2/3 over hurdles, and the 5yo was quite impressive last time, winning a Class4 Doncaster Maiden to beat Saturday’s opponent, Oscar Rose, by 4L, 22 days ago. It was only a 3 runner affair but the time was reasonable and on 3lbs worse terms the Wadham mare should confirm the form.
Oliver Sherwood has won the race twice, (2008 & 2009) and his 6yo, Millarvillle, looks interesting. From a good Irish NH family, she won her only PTP by 8L, and had the now rated 120, It’s All A Lark, 12l back in 3rd. There are mixed messages from her 3 starts over hurdles, winning once over 2m1f, following a wind operation, but well beaten in the other two. However Saturday’s step up in trip should suit this stoutly bred mare, and a strict interpretation of her PTP win would make her look well treated on her mark of 120 at the weekend.
Jonjo O’Neill won the inaugural running in 2003 and his contender, Annie Mc, has been pretty consistent in her 5 races over hurdles, winning once, in quite impressive fashion at Chepstow two races ago, (2m3 1/2f Good-Soft). She took it up at the second last and went clear to beat the 118 rated, Burn Baby Byrne, (rec2lbs) by 18L which makes Saturday’s mark of 127 look fair. Racing over a furlong shorter last time, in a slowly run heat, she was very disappointing, but back up in trip on Saturday, and with the benefit of the seriously talented Jonjo O’Neill junior’s 5lbs claim, she has to be worth considering.
Runners from the Perth and Kinross yard of Nick Alexander are an infrequent sight in Berkshire, so he must be dispatching his daughter of Getaway, Off The Hook, on the long journey with a little more than just wishful thinking. Despite running very consistently, on mostly testing ground, it wasn’t until her last race, her 8th attempt over hurdles, that the 7yo got her head in front. Racing on better ground for only the second time in her career, (a close 2nd on the previous occasion), she won a tad cleverly from the now 122 rated Sam’s Adventure, (Ayr 2m4 1/2f Good-Soft 20 Jan). She races off a mark of 121 on Saturday and could be interesting.
EBF &TBA Mares National Hunt Novices Hurdle Series Final 2m4 1/2f (Handicap) Newbury Saturday.
Selection : Sixties Belle (if abs Annie Mc)
EW. : Off The Hook