Having shaped as if crying out for step up in trip on both his starts this season, Dragon D’Estruval looks the value punt now that he gets it in the 3m 4f in London National Handicap Chase at Sandown on Saturday (15:35).
In the first of those over 3m at Perth, this Nicky Henderson trained six-year-old stayed on nicely from off the last to finish a three-length third to Indian Temple.
The Simon Munir and Isaac Souede owned son of Enrique backed that up with a really eye-catching effort when fifth of 13 to Militarian in a decent class 3 handicap over at Ascot off the same mark of 141.
After again being held-up well off the pace by Daryl Jacob, Dragon D’Estruval made good late headway to be nearest at the finish and beaten 13 lengths. He was not knocked about whatsoever.
It was a performance which suggests there was a decent prize in Dragon D’Estruval when given a sterner stamina test.
The extra four furlongs in this promises to suit and he now races off 1lb lower.
A revised rating of 140 looks exploitable, given that Dragon D’Estruval had some useful form to his name when trained in France and winning three times.
He also has proven form in the mud and hails from a yard that continues in fine form.
Henderson is operating at a strike rate of 26 per cent in the last 14 days at the time of writing.
So, taking everything into account, he looks cracking each-way value at 10/1 with William Hill who pay four places.
Fiddlerontheroof a strong fancy in opener before London National
In the 2m novices’ hurdle that gets proceeding underway on a cracking card (12:15), Fiddlerontheroof looks to hold outstanding claims of opening his account over the obstacles.
This five-year-old won a Navan bumper when trained in Ireland by JJ Walsh, finding plenty for pressure to beat The Big Getaway by just over a length.
The runner-up is a highly regarded Willie Mullins trained sort and has since gone on to score at Punchestown in runaway style. Fiddlerontheroof then joined Colin Tizzard.
He ran a cracker on debut over the obstacles for his new handler when a two-length runner-up to Thyme Hill in the Grade 2 Persian War Novices’ Hurdle at Chepstow.
As the winner has gone on to follow-up in another Grade 2 at Cheltenham to confirm himself one of best novice hurdlers seen out so far, the form is extremely strong in relation to this class 3 affair.
It sets a very high standard. Although turned over went sent off odds-on last time out when runner-up at Wincanton, Fiddlerontheroof seemed ill at ease on that sharp track.
The return to a more galloping venue with a stiff uphill finish is sure to play to his strengths. A repeat of his run behind Thyme Hill will be more than good enough to see him land this.
At 11/8 with Bethard, then, Fiddlerontheroof looks a worthy favourite and the one to be on.
Malaya appeals in December Handicap Hurdle
Champion trainer Paul Nicholls has a tremendous record at this meeting, so Malaya is fancied to provide him with another success in the Listed 2m December Handicap Hurdle (14:25).
This five-year-old mare is a four-time winner over the obstacles who enjoyed her finest hours over course and distance back in March when landing the ultra-competitive Grade 3 Imperial Cup.
After being held-up well off the pace, the daughter of Martaline made smooth headway on the outside approaching two out.
She then blundred badly at that obstacle, but quickly recovered to chase the leaders before asserting on the run-in to readily beat Monsieur Lecoq by 1 1/4 lengths off a mark of 136.
The pair pulled nicely clear of the third home and the runner-up, who was receiving 1lb, won the Welsh Champion Hurdle at Ffos Las back in October off 138 before running a blinder to finish third in the Grade 3 Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham off 144.
There was also plenty of subsequent winners in-behind, so that gives the form a very solid looks. It also suggests Malaya out to be up to winning races off her current mark of 140.
Things haven’t gone right for her in two starts this season, the first of which came over fences, but this venue clearly suits her run-style and Malaya now gets the soft ground that she relishes.
Better can therefore be expected and Malaya can be backed at a best-price 11/2 with Coral to bag this valuable prize before the London National.