McCain’s new recruit can Mount a serious challenge in feature chase at Kelso
Mount Mews ( 2.05) has a brilliant Kelso record and is taken to extend his sequence in the Borders.
Donald McCain saddles the talented eight-year- old for the first time since owner Trevor Hemmings moved the horse from the Ruth Jefferson yard.
Mount Mews is back to five pounds below his last winning mark.
Provided McCain has him hard-fit for the handicap chase, he must go close.
Mount News is three wins from three starts at Kelso and two from three on today’s unseasonably good ground.
The obvious concern is that he’s been off the track for 305 days since running a solid race in the Coral Cup at last year’s Cheltenham Festival.
But Mount Mews managed to win after a 214-day break in 2016 and should have the right rating to win this.
McCain has a much less obvious yet fascinating contender in the shape of
ROSE’S IN THE RAIN (2.40). Again, it’s a first start for the yard having achieved little recently under the care of Enda Bolger in Ireland.
Rose’s In The Rain’s form is nothing to write home about but will be fit enough having run in two point-to-points in the lead up to Christmas and could be thrown in off a mark of 91.
Lucarno Dancer is in cracking form at the moment and could be a worthy each-way alternative.
TRIXTER (12.30) looks to have a strong chance in the opener with trainer Tim Vaughan having a sensational record when taking the trip to the Borders town.
Vaughan is five wins from nine runners in hurdle races here and his raider can get the better of Stoney River. Encore Champs beat LORD YEATS (1.00) off level weights at Wetherby and the third has won again since.
The pair of them should have the race between them here again and the Jedd O’Keeffe yard is in better form than the Warren Greatrex team.
LOUGH DERG JEWEL (3.10) is on a career-high mark but that’s for a reason and rates another solid contender for the McCain team.
The win at Doncaster in the middle of last month over Sir Mangan came in a three- horse race but it was decent enough and the rest of the challengers usually find ways to lose, so he’s the one.
The Grade Two Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle is the highlight at Punchestown and, although it has attracted just six runners, it looks a tricky puzzle.
Willie Mullins has won the race seven times and sends both Harrie and Build me up butter cup who have both landed their maidens.
Both are cracking horses and, even though the betting and riding arrangements suggest Harrie is the first choice, Build me up butter cup may be the better of the pair. However, Gordon Elliott (below) has a couple of contenders and a final chance is taken on FELIX DESJY (2.50). He hasn’t quite lived up to his bumper promise yet over hurdles but has still shown a good level of form. Impressive on his hurdling bow at Galway, he failed to make an impression in graded company behind Aramon and Easy Game at Navan but hinted at a return to form last time in defeat to Salsaretta at Limerick. The Elliott-trained VISION D’HONNEUR (3.20) was sent of f favourite for a hot maiden hurdle at Leopardstown on St Stephen’s Day and finished fourth but the expected improvement should make him a tough nut to crack in the big-field maiden hurdle over the minimum trip. It’s the Fibresand at Southwell and the strongest bet on the card looks like AZARI (1.55). The seven-year- old has won twice over course and distance since switching to this surface and the six-pound rise in the weights may not be an anchor.
MEW BEAUTY McCain’s gelding can maintain unbeaten run in the Borders