Having created a good impression when winning last time out, I K Brunel looks worth siding with at 5/1 with Boylesports to take the step back up into Grade 2 company in his stride and land the spoils in the 2m 5f Hyde Novices’ hurdle at Cheltenham on Saturday (12:05).
After winning his debut on soft ground in a bumper at Carlisle, this Olly Murphy trained five-year-old shaped with stacks of promise on his first start over the obstacles at this venue last December when third to Elixir de Nutz over 2m 1f.
I K Brunel was held-up in the early stages and far from fluent one more than one occasion, including at the second last after which he got outpaced.
The son of Midnight Legend then rallied, however, and stayed on strongly to be gaining all the way to the line and beaten just over five lengths.
It was a fine effort, given how the race panned out. The winner is an extremely smart sort who went on to land the Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown, so that gives the form a very solid look.
I K Brunel was then clearly amiss when a tailed-off fifth of six to Southfield Stone in the Grade 2 Dovecote Novices Hurdle at Kempton.
He showed that running to be all wrong when powering clear to beat highly-regarded Listed bumper winner Eden Du Houx by six lengths at Fontwell last month. It was a performance which suggested there was much more to come from him.
I K Brunel revels in testing conditions and is 2-2 under Adrian Heskin, so there is nothing not to like about his profile for this recognised Ballymore trial ahead of next year’s Cheltenham Festival.
Thyme Hill spearheads Hyde Novices’ Hurdle dangers
Smart bumper performer Thyme Hill made an impressive start over the obstacles when landing the 2m 3f Grade 2 Persian War Novices’ Hurdle at Chepstow, so is 2/1 with Paddy Power to give weight all-round and follow-up.
This Philip Hobbs trained five-year-old, who finished a fine 2 3/4 lengths third of 14 to Envoi Allen in the Grade 1 Champion Bumper at this year’s Cheltenham Festival, showed real battling qualities to beat Fiddlerontheroof by two lengths.
Thyme Hill looked in trouble two from home when the pace quickened, but jockey Richard Johnson cajoled him into action and brought him with a strong run approaching the final flight.
The son of Kayf Tara then dug deep to hit the front 150 yards from home and win going away at the line. It was a most taking performance which suggested he was crying out for a step up in trip.
Thyme Hill gets that now, but has to shoulder a penalty for that success and giving 5lb to I K Brunel is no easy task. For that reason, he looks worth taking on at the odds on offer.
Another very interesting contender in a cracking Hyde Novices’ Hurdle renewal is the Colin Tizzard trained L’Air Du Vent.
He shaped with stacks of promise when a staying on 2 1/4 lengths third to Champagne Well in a novice hurdle at The Showcase meeting here last month. L’Air Du Vent looks sure to come on for that spin and is 11/2 with Ladbrokes for this.
The aforementioned Champagne Well, meanwhile, can be backed at 15/2 with Unibet to confirm that form and provide red-hot trainer Fergal O’Brien with yet another winner.
Jatiluwih a worthy favourite in Intermediate Handicap Hurdle
In the 2m 5f Betvictor Intermediate Handicap Hurdle (15:30), the ultra-progressive Jatiluwih is strongly fancied to cash-in on what looks a lenient mark and notch a fifth success on the bounce.
This five-year-old has some useful form to his name when trained in France. He put up a most taking display on hurdles debut after joining Phlip Hobbs when forging clear to beat the well-regarded Falco Blitz by three lengths at Ludlow.
The son of Linda’s Lad then showed a game attitude to beat Alrightjack by half-a-length at Chepstow, before bolting up by 13 lengths at Sedgefield last month following a 158-day break.
Jatiluwih then landed the four-timer in impressive fashion when coming from off the pace and staying on strongly to easily beat West Cork by five lengths at Wetherby off an official rating of 135.
The third home Young Bull won next time-up in good style, whilst the fourth horse Dino Boy has since run well to finish second.
It gives the form a solid looks and suggests the assessor may have taken a real chance in allotting Jatiluwih an opening handicap mark os just 137.
He has the potential to be far better than that and is clearly on a serious upward curve, so – at 4/1 with Betfair – looks a worthy favourite to go in again.
Remastered an each-way alternative
The David Pipe trained Remastered failed to shine on seasonal reappearance but, with the stable now in better form and underfoot conditions in his favour, looks the each-way option in the Betvictor Intermediate Handicap Hurdle.
This ex-Elizabeth Doyle trained gelding made a winning debut for Pond House handler Pipe when easily beating Kateson, who went on to be placed in a Grade 2 hurdle behind the top class Champ off a rating of 141, by 3 1/2 lengths in a Chepstow bumper.
Remastered then won easing down by seven lengths on hurdles debut at Ffos Las, before being far from disgraced when fifth of 17 to Getaway Trump in a warm novice contest at Exeter.
The five-year-old also ran well on his final start last season when a keeping on four-length second to Dashel Drasher at Newbury.
As the winner was in red-hot form and went on to complete a four-timer when scoring in good style at Cheltenham to be rated 145, the form looks strong.
It suggests that Remastered should be more than capable of winning races off his current handicap mark of 133.
His run off it last month at Chepstow when a 51-length 12th of 16 to Flash The Steel in the Grade 3 Silver Trophy when sent off a well-backed 7/1 shot was simply too bad to be true.
So, given that he has proven form in the mud having won twice on heavy going, the potentially well-treated Remastered appeals most from an each-way betting perspective at the 10/1 on offer with the sponsors.
Eminent Poet value in Big Buck’s
Trainer Venetia Williams has her team in fine form and the mud-loving Eminent Poet looks to hold leading claims of providing her with another winner in the Listed 3m Big Buck’s Handicap Hurdle (15:00).
This eight-year-old has a fine strike rate of 27 per cent over the obstacles having won eight of his 29 starts and also made the frame on five occasions.
He sluiced on seasonal reappearance last year when beating Another Emotion by six lengths on heavy ground at Sandown off a mark of 135 and was then far from disgraced when eighth of 15 to Lord Napier in a competitive Grade 3 handicap hurdle at Sandown off 143.
Eminent Poet also found life too hot when a well-beaten 16th of 24 to Sire Du Berlais in the Pertemps Final at the Cheltenham Festival, but has since been dropped 2lb and now returns to action off a reduced rating of 140.
That looks workable on the pick of his form, especially as the son of Montjeu has gone well fresh in the past.
Six of Eminent Port’s eight wins have also come on heavy going – with the other two being on soft – so bottomless conditions on Hyde Novices’ Hurdle day at a wet Prestbury Park will hold no fears.
So, taking everything into account, Eminent Poet looks a decent value each-way punt at the 12/1 on offer with 888Sport.