O'Brien hoping experience counts for bumper star Rhythm in Persian War
totepool Persian War Novices' Hurdle (Grade 2) | 2m3½f | 4yo+ | ATR
When discussing the Persian War, Donald McCain said "It's where summer form meets winter form, isn't it?" and, try as one might, it is difficult to put it more succinctly.
The ten declared runners fall into one of two camps: improving summer novices and those handled patiently last season or now entering their second season over hurdles.
Campaigned in summer or winter, what most winners tend to have in common is stamina, even if that has to be applied retrospectively. Reve De Sivola, Silviniaco Conti, Fingal Bay and Blaklion are the recent names that leap off the page and all proved best over three miles plus in time.
The likely buzz horse is four-year-old Vision Des Flos, who won a bumper at the Punchestown festival and starts out for Colin Tizzard.
His backers may be buoyed by three four-year-olds winning the race in the last decade, as well they might.
However, the overall record of four-year-olds in the last ten runnings has them beating, on average, 50 per cent of their rivals. In short, youth would appear to be neither a help nor hindrance.
What they say
Martin Keighley, trainer of Ballymountain Boy
He's come on for this first run of the season at Uttoxeter. It's a big step up in grade for him, but he's a novice with a lot of experience and this is probably the ideal time to do it. This is a nice prize and he's fit and experienced, so we'll be riding him positively.
Donald McCain, trainer of Dear Sire
He's had a busy old summer, but he's come out of Market Rasen well and he would have been a lot closer there but for that mistake two out. He's got no penalties and he's only a novice until the end of the month, so it's a case of now or never. I'm hopeful about the trip, we always felt like he was getting away with two miles. Whether two and a half at somewhere like Chepstow will suit, we'll have to wait and see.
Fergal O'Brien, trainer of Poetic Rhythm
He won the bumper on the same day last year, so we thought it was a nice place to start him. He ran in some really good races last year and placed in a couple of Grade 2s. He disappointed at the festival but had had a long season by then. He's got lots of experience, running in half a dozen points as well as all those good hurdles races and that's the main thing on our side.
Dan Skelton, trainer of Tommy Rapper
Tommy Rapper is quite well regarded and we ran him in some good races last year. He's a second season novice and a chaser in time, but we'll stick to hurdles for this season and this is a nice place to start him off, the ground should be perfect for him.