London – Many of champion trainer Nicky Henderson’s horses are currently stymied by repercussions of the equine-flu outbreak, stuck at home getting mandatory booster vaccinations rather than travelling to the races.
But the nightmare is over for others, and appropriately named pair We Have A Dream and Dream Du Grand Val can prove the point by making today’s long trip up to Kelso worthwhile.
We Have A Dream, a dual Grade 1-winning juvenile hurdler last season, had a choice of engagements this week – with Wincanton’s Kingwell a possible destination – once the British Horseracing Authority lifted its six-day shutdown of fixtures.
Henderson, however, has often used Kelso’s Morebattle Hurdle as a stepping stone for his championship contenders down the years – and We Have A Dream still falls into that category.
Top Notch won this race for Seven Barrows, in the same famous colours of Simon Munir and Isaac Soude, three years ago.
We Have A Dream retains his Champion Hurdle entry – and how he fares here in his fourth race of the campaign will dictate whether he takes on dual title-holder Buveur D’Air and other stablemates at Cheltenham next month.
The five-year-old has not quite hit the heights in Grade 2 races this term. But neither has he disgraced himself in what is often a tough transitional campaign, beaten under 10 lengths on each occasion.
This distance of 3600m may prove spot on for him, too.
Dream Du Grand Val heads north after comfortably justifying odds of even-money in a Fontwell handicap late last month.
The six-year-old ex-French gelding was scoring for the first time in eight attempts, on his second effort for his new yard, and takes on fellow novices here.
He has acquired a winner’s penalty, of course, but ought to be a leading light in the Borders Novices’ Hurdle.
Later on the card, Definitly Red is impossible to oppose as he faces just Captain Redbeard in the Malcolm Jefferson Memorial Chase.
The 10-year-old arrives here on the back of two fine victories, in the Charlie Hall at Wetherby and the Many Clouds Chase at Aintree, impressing with his decisive finishing kick on both occasions.
Brian Ellison has set his sights on next month’s Cheltenham Gold Cup with his stable star – and, given he is at a massive advantage under the conditions of the race, he really should be winning with the minimum of fuss.
At Fontwell, in-form and well-handicapped Goodgirlteresa can get punters off to a flier in the opening Happy Birthday Sarah Cotty Handicap Hurdle.
The mare began the new year in great style with back-to-back chase wins in the space of five days last month, very easily at Ffos Las and then in grittier fashion under a penalty at Chepstow.
They were just her third and fourth attempts for her new stable, and Kayley Woollacott can run her off 3kg lower over hurdles. The hat-trick is very much on.
Later on the card, Sartorial Elegance is another who has finally taken advantage of a huge tumble in the ratings.
Colin Tizzard’s eight-year-old may well never regain the heights which saw him race off 128 two winters ago.
But after finally getting his head back in front here last month, off a much lower mark, he is up just 2.5kg and – with some confidence restored – can perhaps strike again over course and distance in the Liberty Leasing Asset Finance Handicap Chase.
On the Flat at Chelmsford, there may not be many willing to take on Charlie Appleby and Godolphin’s Cirque Royal in the Double Delight Hat-Trick Heaven At totesport.com Novice Stakes.
After the Cape Cross colt’s promising debut second over slightly shorter at Wolverhampton this month, it is relatively easy to forecast victory at his second attempt. – Press Association
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