Given the strength of his form, the progressive Harry Senior looks worth a punt at 9/2 with Betfred to take the step up into Grade 2 company in his stride and land the spoils in the 2m 4f Classic Novices’ Hurdle on a superb Festival Trials Day card at Cheltenham this Saturday (15:00).
After shaping with plenty of promise when fourth on hurdling debut at Chepstow, this Colin Tizzard trained six-year-old ran a blinder when headed close home and beaten 1 3/4 lengths by Sporting John at Exeter.
The winner is a hugely exciting sort who has since bolted up by eight lengths at the same venue, whilst the third, fourth and fifth home have also gone on to taste success. That gives the form an extremely strong look.
Harry Senior then ran very well when again collared late on and beaten just a length by Edwardstone at Aintree.
Again, the winner is a well-regarded inmate of trainer Alan King who went into the race on the back of a taking success over Harry Senior’s stablemate Fiddlerontheroof.
Strong form claims and impressive at Chepstow
Edwardstone has since run well in a Grade 2 at Haydock when chinned on the line and beaten a neck by Stolen Silver.
As Fiddlerontheroof went on to score next time up and has since landed the Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown in impressive fashion, that form again reads really well in relation to this.
Harry Senior has since opened his account in good style over 2m 1f at Chepstow where he took up the running at the final flight, before drawing effortlessly clear to score easily by five lengths.
The Brocade Racing owned son of Oscar is clearly going the right way, promises to be suited by the step up in trip and has form in the book that suggest he is well worth a crack at this level.
At the odds on offer, he thus looks value to take this recognised trial for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle and enhance his claims for that Cheltenham Festival contest.
Count Meribel weighted to go well in handicap chase
Count Meribel looks nicely treated and cracking each-way value in the 2m 4f Grade 3 Cheltenham Trophy Handicap Chase (13:40).
This eight-year-old hails from the yard of Nigel Twiston-Davies and has won two of his six starts over fences.
The last of those successes came over course and distance in November 2018 where he held on gamely by a neck from Le Breuil.
As the winner went on to land the Grade 2 National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, the form looks smart. Count Meribel also comes into this having run very well in two starts this season.
In the first of those, he shaped with plenty of promise when a 2 1/4 lengths runner-up to leading Cheltenham Gold Cup hope Lostintranslation in the Listed 2m 4f Colin Parker at Carlisle.
Although no match for the subsequent Betfair Chase winner, the son of Three Valleys stuck to the task really well and pulled nine lengths clear of the 156-rated Kildistart from whom he was receiving just 4lb.
Count Meribel has since finished a solid sixth of 17 to Happy Diva in the valuable Grade 3 BetVictor Gold Cup at this venue.
He rallied after getting outpaced two out, before weakening late on and losing places close home to be beaten just over 16 lengths off 146.
The form of that race has worked out well. Count Meribel is now able to race in this same grade contest off 1lb lower. A revised 145 rating makes him look nicely treated on the pick of his form.
Another plus is that jockey Mark Grant also gets a great tune out of him. Everything looks in place for a big run, so Count Meribel thus makes plenty of each-way appeal at 9/1 with Ladbrokes.
Monte Cristo fancied for Finesse glory on Festival Trials Day
In the Grade 2 Finesse Juvenile Hurdle that gets proceedings underway on Festival Trials Day (12.40), Monte Cristo is strongly fancied to make his eagerly awaited UK debut a winning one and enhance trainer Nicky Henderson’s excellent record in the race.
The Seven Barrows handler has won the contest, a recognised Triumph Hurdle trial, on five occasions – including four of the last six renewals.
Those winners include Peace And Co, who went on to land the Triumph, and like Monte Critso was owned by Simon Munir and Isaac Souede.
He has some smart form to his name in France, winning a competitive 16-runner handicap when last seen in action in October by half-a-length from Gochetial.
The runner-up, to whom he was conceding 7lb, has come out and won since and the pair pulled nicely clear of the third home.
That gives the form a solid look. Monte Cristo, who has been given a high official rating of 140, looks like an exciting recruit for Seven Barrows handler Henderson.
He comes into this with a big reputation and has been well-backed in the ante post betting for the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March, for which he is now a general 20/1 shot.
Big things are clearly expected, so Monte Cristo has to be winning this on Festival Trials Day. He is fully expected to do so and justify cramped odds of 11/10 with Paddy Power.