Floressa looked an unlucky loser when runner-up to Silver Forever last time out and is now better off at the weights, so that makes her a strong fancy to gain her revenge and land the spoils in the Listed 2m mares’ novice hurdle that gets proceedings underway on Winter Carnival day 2 at Newbury this Saturday (12:05).
That run came over course and distance just over three weeks ago where the Nicky Henderson trained four-year-old was beaten just a short-head by Paul Nicholls’ charge.
After tracking the leading pair travelling strongly under Nico de Boinville, Floressa was produced to challenge at the final flight but met it on a long stride and dived at it.
That lost her valuable momentum, yet she was rallying strongly when the winner hung badly right on the run-in and forced her to switch.
It was to Floressa’s credit, therefore, that she ran on strongly after that and only got denied on the nod. Given how the race panned out, it was a terrific effort.
The pair pulled 13 lengths clear of Irish raider Heaven Help Us who had previously won a decent maiden hurdle at Cheltenham That gives the form a rock solid look.
Floressa now enjoys a 3lb pull in the weights with Silver Forever, so that should be enough to see her turn the tables.
Prior to that, the daughter of Poliglote had created a huge impression on hurdles debut when cruising to a facile 19-length success at Worcester.
There is undoubtedly stacks more to come from Floressa, so – at 11/10 with SportNation – she looks a worthy favourite to get Henderson off to a flying start on what could be a tremendous Winter Carnival day 2 for the Seven Barrows handler.
Epatante has plenty going for her in Gerry Feilden
Henderson has a tremendous record in Gerry Feilden Hurdle, having won it six times, and Epatante looks to hold leading claims of adding to that tally in this year’s renewal of the Listed 2m 4f limited handicap (14:25).
This daughter of No Risk At All had some smart form in France and, after being bought by leading Irish owner JP McManus, was ultra-impressive in winning her first two starts last season.
In the first of those at Kempton back 12 months ago, Epatante travelled ominously well throughout before quickening clear on the run-in to easily beat Ey Up Rocky by 3 1/2 lengths.
Epatante then registered a facile 3 1/2 lengths success at Exeter, where despite racing very keenly, she won hard-held.
That taking success saw her sent off a heavily backed 15/8 favourite for the Grade 2 Dawn Run Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
Although she failed to live up to expectations in finishing a 9 3/4 length ninth of 22 to Eglantine Du Seuil, Epatante shaped much better than the bare result suggests.
After running green on the early stages, she was making stealthy headway when making a bad mistake four from home.
That cost Epatante valuable ground and momentum at a crucial stage, but she recovered well to chase the leaders and hold every chance two form home before staying on at one pace after the last.
Inexperience appeared to be her undoing that day, and Epatante appeals as the type that will come into her own this season now strengthened up.
If that is the case, then an opening handicap mark of 137 may underestimate her ability. Epatante is thus taken at 9/2 with Betfair to make a winning return to action on Winter Carnival day 2.
Downtown Getaway weighted to strike on handicap debut during Winter Carnival day 2
In the 2m 4f handicap hurdle (13:50), Henderson saddles a fascinating contender in Downtown Getaway, who could potentially be thrown-in at the weights.
After impressively landing a Fairyhouse bumper by 12 lengths when in the care of Maggie Mullins, this six-year-old ran a blinder on debut for Lambourn maestro Henderson when a 1 3/4 lengths second of 13 to Tidal Flow over course and distance.
The winner is now rated 137, whilst the fourth home Harambe – who finished 18 lengths behind Downtown Getaway- won the valuable Grade 3 Greatwood Handicap Hurdle last time out off 137 and is now rated 143. That gives the form a strong look.
Downtown Getaway duly built on that promise next time up when showing a really willing attitude to beat the now 141-rated Champagne Well, who finside runner-up in a Grade 2 last time out, by a short-head at Ascot.
The son of Getaway then found life too hot on his final start of the campaign when pitched into Grade 1 company and finishing a well-beaten seventh of 12 to Champ in the Sefton Novices’ Hurdle at the Aintree Grand National Festival.
However, the fact that he was sent off just 8/1 that day shows the high regard in which Downtown Getaway is held and this represents a return to calmer waters.
The assessor has allotted him an opening handicap mark of just 131 on the back of those efforts. Judged on the form, Downtown Getaway’s aforementioned runs that looks very lenient indeed.
Hence, at 11/2 with Ladbrokes, he makes plenty of appeal and thus completes this Winter Carnival day 2 preview from Newbury.