Last year’s Stayers’ Hurdle winner Penhill was ruled out of a repeat bid by trainer Willie Mullins on Wednesday with the horse reported to be “sore” following a piece of work. The horse runs in the colours of Brighton owner Tony Bloom whose team are the only side in the Premier or Football Leagues not to win a game so far in 2019. It has not been a great start to the year for Bloom who is affectionately known as “the Lizard.”

In the absence of Penhill, Paisley Park has shortened to 13/8 (from 7/4)  for the feature race on the Thursday of the Festival with Penhill’s stablemate Faugheen 5/1 (from 6s) Non Runner No Bet.

Newbury

Showers were forecast yesterday for today’s card at Newbury with the ground described as good to soft (good in places) at noon on Thursday. Paint The Dream (1.45) makes his handicap debut for Fergal O’Brien with Connor Brace taking off a valuable 8lbs in the conditional jockeys’ event. The form of the each way selection’s third at Taunton last time has been franked by the subsequent runs of both the second and the fourth. Top-weight Crystal Lad returned to form last time and he looks a big danger in a competitive opener. Note BetVictor are paying 1/5th odds four places on the race.

I was very impressed with the win of Christopher Wood (2.20) on his hurdles debut at Fontwell earlier in the month and will be disappointed if he doesn’t run a big race under a penalty for Paul Nicholls. The selection was only a miler on the level for Michael Bell, but stamina was no issue on debut and that was over an extended 2m 1f. Zizania will be jumping a fence sooner rather than later and a bigger danger may come from Ian Williams’s Faldo who runs in the gree and gold silks of JP McManus.

Tidal Flow was the first beaten when favourite for a Grade 2 at Warwick seven weeks ago but his previous win over today’s C&D marked him down as a very smart novice. If the official handicapper is right he is 4lbs superior to Emitom (3.25) but I favour the unbeaten Warren Greatrex runner.

The selection has won all four career starts (2 Bumpers & 2 Hurdles) and looked very good when beating subsequent Grade 2 Hurdle winner Lisnagar Oscar by 5L at Ffos Las back in November. He must be followed until beaten.

Nicky Henderson saddles three and Gallahers Cross is a massive danger in receipt of 10lbs from the other principles. The selection won a p-t-p and a Bumper in his native Ireland before finishing fourth in a listed Bumper at Ascot on his British debut. He is 33/1 for the Albert Bartlett although he must improve on what was a lacklustre first start over timber at Ascot back in December.

Orchardstown Cross (4.30) was sticky jumping the first couple of fences at Taunton last week, but was well on top at the end and is hard to oppose under a 7lbs penalty even allowing for the fact that this is a better race. Rex Dingle keeps the ride and the selection would be carrying an extra 4lbs if this race were run 24 hours later.

Tips:

Christopher Wood (2.20) 

Emitom (3.25) 

Orchardstown Cross (4.30)  

Doncaster

Over at Doncaster and Cruiseaweigh (3.15) folded tamely having been keen on his first start for over 600 days at Newbury. I am prepared to give him another chance given his jumping was fine and this step up in trip should suit now that the cobwebs have been blown away.

Ratoute Yutty (3.45) has pulled up few trees for the Skeltons’ since coming across the Irish Sea where she won a Mares’ Maiden Hurdle. The selection drops back to the minimum trip this afternoon which I feel should suit and the stable had a hat-trick of winners at Uttoxeter earlier in the week after a quiet spell.

Tips:

Cruiseaweigh (3.15)  

Ratoute Yutty (3.45)  

Dundalk

It is great to see I Can Fly (6.45) out in the Get A Run For Your Money With BetVictor Fillies’ race at Dundalk this evening. The selection was only beaten a neck by Roaring Lion in the Group 1 QEII at Ascot on Champions’ Day and she meets nothing of that calibre this evening. She made a winning debut at Dundalk as a juvenile, so tonight’s surface holds no terrors. Ryan Moore takes the ride for Aidan O’Brien.

Tip:

I Can Fly (6.45)  

Odds are correct at the time of posting

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