Ut De Sivola tests Triumph claims
Having hitherto been so weirdly indulged, the jumps schedule was finally menaced by frost overnight.
Most tracks remained optimistic, though it must be admitted that a lot of trainers, asked to sacrifice a single weekend this winter, would probably have chosen this one.
Weather permitting, however, it should be possible to spot one or two Festival candidates – most obviously, perhaps, Ut De Sivola, who cruised clear in a maiden hurdle at Clonmel last month. That was the French import's first start for Willie Mullins, who steps him up in grade at Punchestown this afternoon. Already among the favourites for the JCB Triumph Hurdle, Ut De Sivola should be obliged to give an instructive performance against one or two with much more experience.
Philip Hobbs has found another congenial spot for Menorah to continue his education over fences, taken on for the second time running by just two rivals at Kempton today. Menorah lost concentration when clear at the last at Taunton last month, and will clearly have to be more focused once meeting the big guns in what looks a vintage crop of novices over two miles. Not even the pair he meets today should be treated as a pushover.
Perhaps the race with most at stake, however, is the valuable novice hurdle at Warwick, where some ambitious smaller stables pitch precious young prospects together in the hope of identifying one to take on the likes of Hobbs, Nicky Henderson and Paul Nicholls at the Festival. Emma Lavelle, in particular, must be hoping that Highland Lodge can sustain the momentum of a season that threatens to elevate her stable to the next echelon.
Latest in Sport
Manchester United injury news: Angel Di Maria unlikely to face Spurs as Marouane Fellaini's 'mystery illness' turns out to be rib injury
Arsenal vs QPR player ratings: Could anyone outshine new Gunners hero Alexis Sanchez and who was worse than villain Olivier Giroud?
Manchester City team news: Manuel Pellegrini hopes to have Vincent Kompany back for Burnley visit but hopes not to risk Stevan Jovetic
Neil Warnock sacked: Tim Sherwood fits role for Crystal Palace
Arsenal injury news: Laurent Koscielny could return but Olivier Giroud suspended for trip to West Ham
- 1 President of Argentina adopts Jewish godson to 'stop him turning into a werewolf'
- 2 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
- 3 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Millions of Britons struggling to feed themselves and facing malnourishment
Immigrants make UK racist, says Ukip councillor Trevor Shonk
Nigel Farage: Ukip leader named 'Briton of the year' by The Times
£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...
£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...
£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you have previous experience...
£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...