1.55 Ascot – Our verdict
Our team offer their contrasting verdicts on the Sky Bet Supreme Trial Novices' Hurdle at Ascot on Friday.
Dave Ord – Thomas Campbell
THOMAS CAMPBELL, Nicky Henderson's supposed second string, could be a spot of value in an intriguing renewal. He did well to win over course and distance last time as the race didn't play to his strengths but he was well on top at the finish. A stronger gallop here will suit and he remains full of potential. To be fair that comment applies to all of his rivals including stablemate Lough Derg Spirit, a taking winner at Kempton last time. However a bigger threat could be Captain Forez who travelled very takingly for much of the race when third to leading Sky Bet Supreme fancy Jenkins at Newbury last time. He shaped there as if the outing wouldn't be lost on him.
Ben Coley – Lough Derg Spirit
He'll start favourite and this is a step up in class under very different conditions, but such was the impression made by LOUGH DERG SPIRIT on his Rules debut that he has to get my vote. I'm not sure I've been as taken with any other novice hurdler this season, the giant four-year-old demonstrating that he possesses both an engine and a slick hurdling technique which perhaps belies his point-to-point background. Stablemate Jenkins quite rightly heads the Supreme betting, but Nicky Henderson might also have the second favourite after this.
Ian Ogg – Captain Forez
He looked every inch a future chaser when making his debut for Dan Skelton at Newbury and it was no surprise to hear his trainer's post-race comments that was where his future lay. However, he still showed abundant talent behind five-day entrant Jenkins who, presumably, would have been Nicky Henderson's first string had he lined up. As such, CAPTAIN FOREZ is worth chancing here in receipt of weight from all bar one of his rivals as he's fully entitled to come on for his British and stable debut.
Man On The Spot – Keep In Line
Nicky Henderson holds a strong hand again in a race he's won twice in the last five years. Lough Derg Spirit was a very easy winner on his hurdles bow at Kempton and could be anything while Thomas Campbell is two from two over timber, including one victory over course and distance. Capitaine looks up against it, however, having failed to justify favouritism in a Listed hurdle at Haydock last month while Blue Surf was only workmanlike in getting off the mark in a maiden at Plumpton. Captain Forez ran well at Newbury three weeks ago but that form is sending out mixed messages. KEEP IN LINE would have finished close up in this grade at Cheltenham last month with a clear run. He'd won his two previous starts and may be worth another chance – his yard won this last year.
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