PAUL FER­GU­SON

Paul Fer­gu­son is ex­cited about the prospects of Gor­don El­liott’s novice chaser

Racing Ahead - - CONTENTS -

Our top tip­ster with his lat­est se­lec­tions for profit

Reg­u­lar read­ers of both this col­umn and Jumpers To Fol­low will know that I have long been a fan of DI­A­MOND KING, who looks ca­pa­ble of land­ing his first Grade 1 at Fairy­house in early-De­cem­ber (4th).

Trainer Gor­don El­liott has made a tremen­dous start to the new sea­son and his Co­ral Cup winner looked a nat­u­ral when win­ning a be­gin­ners’ chase at Gal­way by 14 lengths, de­spite pre-race fears that the run might be needed.

Go­ing chas­ing at eight seems a lit­tle late, but he has been in the form of his life dur­ing 2016 and it would be fit­ting to con­clude the cal­en­dar year with suc­cess in the Drin­more Novice Chase, af­ter which he will prob­a­bly be given a mid-win­ter break.

Of those with chase ex­pe­ri­ence Disko who is an­other that is likely to be tar­geted at the Drin­more and he has long been held in the high­est re­gard by trainer,Noel Meade.

The free-go­ing grey also made the perfect start to life over the larger ob­sta­cles, when win­ning over this 2m4f trip at Punchestown and, again, this seems the ob­vi­ous next tar­get, es­pe­cially given that Gig­gin­stown House Stud have a fine record in the race.

Of the 27 other en­trants, plenty have yet to race over fences (at the time of writ­ing) but there are some pretty ex­cit­ing names amongst them and there is time for at least one of them to land a be­gin­ners’ con­test en route to hav­ing a crack at this. Bell­shill, Coney Is­land, Our Duke, Woodland Opera andYorkhill are hugely ex­cit­ing prospects for fences, although the lat­ter also holds an en­try in the Hat­ton’s Grace Hur­dle on the same card, with con­nec­tions re­port­edly still un­de­cided as to which route he will take.

Mov­ing on to the Hat­ton’s Grace and it will be a huge shock if Wil­lie Mullins isn’t re­spon­si­ble for sad­dling the winner. As well as the afore­men­tioned Yorkhill, who could be more than ca­pa­ble of win­ning this if he is, in­deed, kept over hur­dles, but I think it is more likely that An­nie Power or Faugh­een will rep­re­sent the all-con­quer­ing yard.

The for­mer, of course, stepped in for the lat­ter and landed the Cham­pion Hur­dle in March, af­ter which she ab­so­lutely bolted up at Ain­tree.As mad as it may sound when talk­ing about a Cham­pion Hur­dle winner, and a course-record holder at that, I be­lieve this to be the mares’ op­ti­mum trip and she will be in­cred­i­bly dif­fi­cult to beat here.

If Faugh­een rep­re­sents con­nec­tions in­stead,he will have a lit­tle more to prove, hav­ing been off the track since Jan­uary, but it is worth re­mem­ber­ing that his last per­for­mance was ar­guably up there with his best. If re­turn­ing to any­where near that best, he is an­other that would also ap­pear the most ob­vi­ous se­lec­tion.

The other Grade 1 on this card is the Royal Bond Novice Hur­dle, in which Mullins is re­spon­si­ble for seven of the 26 en­tries. He has al­ready nom­i­nated this race for the smart ex-Flat per­former Pen­hill and, hav­ing been kept on through­out the sum­mer, the five-year-old is likely to be primed for this. His hur­dling has im­proved and, though there are likely to be sev­eral bet­ter prospects in the sta­ble for the big­ger races later on in the sea­son,if this horse to win a big one,this is

Di­a­mond King jump­ing ahead in the Co­ral Cup

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