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Notebooks out: five big talents to watch on Saturday and Sunday

Mengli Khan: faces Getabird in a Grade 2 Novice Hurdle at Punchestown on Saturday
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There may not be any Grade 1 action this weekend but there is an abundance of high-quality racing. Here are five horses who face assignments on their way to better things . . .

Noble Robin 12.30 Wetherby, Saturday
Away from the ITV4 cameras, Jonjo O'Neill's Noble Robin can continue his progression in the opening novice hurdle at Wetherby.

The imposing son of Robin Des Champs has been entered in Graded company since winning at Ffos Las in November and looks to be one that has gone under the radar.

The booking of champion jockey Richard Johnson is notable, with this just his second ride of the campaign for O'Neill, and Noble Robin can defy a penalty.

Duel At Dawn 1.50 Warwick, Saturday
Alex Hales’s stable star is a worthy favourite for the Listed Hampton Novices’ Chase following a fine effort in defeat at Cheltenham last month.

Duel At Dawn finished a six-length second to subsequent Dipper Novices’ Chase runner-up Sizing Tennessee and was giving Colin Tizzard’s chaser 5lb. Tintern Theatre, who unseated his rider in the race, has since scored in a handicap chase at Kempton, adding further strength to the form. 

That effort points to a big run from Duel At Dawn, who should be suited by the testing conditions and remains a candidate for either the RSA Chase or National Hunt Chase if the going is on the soft side of good at the festival.

Waiting Patiently 2.05 Kempton, Saturday
There are some familiar names among the six runners in the Listed 32Red Casino Chase at Kempton but just the one potential star in the Malcolm Jefferson-trained Waiting Patiently.

The Richard Collins-owned seven-year-old is unbeaten in four starts over fences and faces his stiffest task yet in this £40,000 race, in which Josses Hill, Smad Place and God’s Own line up.

Waiting Patiently has it to find with Smad Place and God's Own on official ratings, but remains thoroughly unexposed over fences and may well defeat his older rivals.

Waiting Patiently and Brian Hughes clear one on their way to victory

Mengli Khan 2.10 Punchestown, Saturday
A leading Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle contender appears at Punchestown on Saturday with Mengli Khan bidding to return to winning ways following a dramatic exit at Leopardstown over Christmas.

Gordon Elliott’s five-year-old, a Grade 1 winner when landing the Royal Bond Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse at the start of last month, was dictating proceedings in the Paddy Power Future Champions Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown when running out and crashing through the wing of the second-last.

Mengli Khan remains towards the head of the market for the Supreme – a general 10-1 chance – and despite facing strong opposition from the Willie Mullins stable in the unbeaten Getabird and smart Carter McKay in the Grade 2 Sky Bet Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle, the Gigginstown House Stud-owned novice hurdler should prove tough to pass if proving a more straightforward conveyance.

Doctor Phoenix 2.35 Fairyhouse, Sunday
There is a typically competitive renewal of the Bar One Racing Dan Moore Memorial Handicap Chase with Rock The World, Cause Of Causes and Acapella Bourgeois towards the head of the weights.

Champion Chase entry Doctor Phoenix is the one that catches the eye. The Nick Bradley Racing Club-owned ten-year-old proved a bargain buy for £10,000 at the Goffs UK Spring Sale at Doncaster in May and stepped up on a debut second for Gordon Elliott when winning at Cork in November.

Doctor Phoenix disappointed when tenth in the Grade B EasyFix Handicap Chase at Fairyhouse last month, though a bad mistake halfway through the race did not help his cause, and he is worth another chance in this €100,000 contest.


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The booking of champion jockey Richard Johnson is notable with this his second ride of the campaign for O'Neill
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