THE highly-regarded Duke Of Navan has done very little wrong over obstacles this season and can continue his progress in the BetVictor Morebattle Hurdle at Kelso.
While the two-and-a-quarter-mile test has failed to attract a serious Champion Hurdle candidate, as it has done in recent years, it is still a nice event with each of the five runners holding some sort of chance.
Nicky Richards thinks the world of Duke Of Navan, who holds a Supreme Novices’ Hurdle entry at Cheltenham.
Very useful in two bumper starts, he went off at short odds for his hurdling debut at Newcastle and duly obliged, before being far from disgraced in a warm Grade Two at Cheltenham in November when fourth to Dodging Bullets.
He won with plenty in hand here last month and looks a horse with a very bright future.
Totalize had the misfortune to come across subsequent Grade One Finale Hurdle winner Ruacana on his jumps debut for Brian Ellison.
However, following that second-place finish at Catterick, the former Luca Cumani-trained gelding went one better, albeit by a nose, at Musselburgh in December. Totalize was unsuited by the slow pace yet still got up to win and there looks to be more to come from him ahead of Kelso’s Harry Hill Novices’ Hurdle.
Caroline Bailey’s runners at Leicester are always worth a second glance and the Northamptonshire handler can strike with Denali Highway in the Bananarama Live Here On 15th June Handicap Chase. The six-year-old has shaped well on both his starts over fences on the two mile-course on this track.
After being well beaten behind Act Of Kalanisi on his fencing bow in November, he got off the mark when making all to defeat Full Ov Beans by seven lengths the following month.
The Absent Mare can make amends for a narrow defeat over the course and distance by going two places better at Kempton.
Robin Dickin’s five-year-old came with a late rattle under Luke Morris but had to settle for third spot, beaten a short head and a head by Llamadas and Bold Adventure at the Sunbury track.
The last two of her three career victories have come over this two miles and she can come up trumps back on her happy-hunting ground in the BetVictor Exclusive Non Runner Free Bet Handicap.
Asia Minor’s first visit to this venue ended in triumph as she scorched home by two and three-quarter lengths from Evergreen Forest in a field of 14.
Trainer Dr Jon Scargill brings her back for the BetVictor Aintree Grand National Non Runner Free Bet Handicap.
She has been put up 6lb for that success but won with such authority that a repeat over this mile and a half is quite likely.