Alsa Mix can step up again at New­bury

The Racing Paper - - News - by Wil­lis Jones

CHAMP at­tempts to grad­u­ate from a hand­i­cap to Grade One level when he lines-up for the Bet­way Chal­low Hur­dle at New­bury to­day.

While the com­pany will be a dif­fer­ent kind of test, Champ is proven over this ex­tended two and a half miles as he won a hand­i­cap in good style at the Berk­shire venue four weeks ago.

The Nicky Hen­der­son­trained six-year-old was hav­ing his first run for six months and only his fourth start over hur­dles on that oc­ca­sion.

“He came out of the last race very well,” said Frank Berry, rac­ing man­ager to owner JP McManus. “It’s a good field and we’re look­ing for a good run.”

Alsa Mix has had even less ex­pe­ri­ence but has won both her starts over the smaller ob­sta­cles in promis­ing fash­ion, tak­ing the step from a novice event at Ex­eter to a Grade Two at Sandown in her stride.

Trainer Alan King has no qualms about tak­ing on the geld­ings with his sixyear-old mare.

“Sandown was a mas­sive step up in class for Alsa Mix, but we were bank­ing on the longer trip and more test­ing ground play­ing to our mare’s strengths, and she duly beat the boys,” he said.

“This step up in class means she will have to im­prove again, but if the rain re­turned she might well do just that as she won her point-to-point in heavy ground, so I won’t be comBal­ly­more plain­ing if the fore­cast­ers have got it wrong.”

Tom Lacey would also like to see the ground soften up for Kate­son, who won over the course and dis­tance at New­bury.

“He seems in very good or­der at home. The ground is dry­ing back all the time,” said the Led­bury trainer.

“We’d have liked some softer ground, but he’ll take his chance.”

Fer­gal O’Brien, who lifted this prize last sea­son with Poetic Rhythm, looks to Coolanly this time.

The six-year-old bounced back from a fall at Chep­stow to win the Grade Two Novices’ Hur­dle at Chel­tenham last time.

O’Brien said: “The Chal­low looks a very good race with seven in-form run­ners. Coolanly did not do any­thing wrong when he won at Chel­tenham and de­serves to take his chance.

“I don’t think slower ground will be a prob­lem. He seems fairly ver­sa­tile and I think he will han­dle most types of ground.”

A seven-strong field in com­pleted by Olly Mur­phy’s Brewin’up­as­torm, Paul Ni­cholls’ Get­away Trump and the Ben Paul­ing-trained Nestor Park.

O’Brien hope: Coolanly

Would like rain: Alsa Mix

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