Peregrine Run out to take prize back to Ireland again
Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle (registered as the Leamington Novices' Hurdle) (Grade 2) | 2m5f, 5yo+ | ITV4/RUK
Last year Thomas Hobson became the first Irish-trained winner of this Grade 2 for Willie Mullins and the prize could be going back to Ireland again with Peregrine Run.
The Peter Fahey-trained gelding has been a revelation this season, catching up with and surpassing his fairly useful bumper form in recording four successive wins, most recently in this grade at Cheltenham in November.
Whether winning this race will require another step up in form is debatable, considering it was the well-touted pair of Wholestone and West Approach who chased him home last time.
Competition on Saturday comes exclusively from horses with hurdles form in lower grades. However, Ballyhill and Get On The Yager have contested strong, non-Pattern races, while Willoughby Court and Gayebury both mixed it with top bumper performers.
Close to home
Dan Skelton (Get On The Yager) and Nigel Twiston-Davies (Ballyhill) have both sent out some of their best-regarded novices in this race in recent seasons. Skelton won the race with Three Musketeers in 2015 and Twiston-Davies with The New One two years earlier.
Based on RPRs the median winning performance in this race in the last decade is 147. That is just 1lb higher than what Peregrine Run achieved at Cheltenham.
What They Say
Nigel Twiston-Davies, trainer of Ballyhill
He's done nothing wrong so far and he's been mixing it with good horses on his last few starts. He's got a bit on at the weights with the Irish horse [Peregrine Run] but we'll have a go and see where we are with him. He was in the Tolworth, but we came here because it's a bit less of a hot race.
Peter Fahey, trainer of Peregrine Run
We gave him a little break after his win at Cheltenham and he has really pleased me in his work lately. He needs nicer ground to be at his best and, touch wood, it seems like it won't be too bad for him in terms of the going. I think he is more of an Albert Bartlett horse for March but hopefully he will pass this test.
Ben Pauling, trainer of Willoughby Court
His form was very good in bumpers and Market Rasen was a funny race, not many got into it and he was one of them. He was very good at Warwick and the plan had been to get one more run in before this but I think he maybe isn't a horse to run too often within a short space of time. Peregrine Run could be tough to beat, but otherwise I think we'll be competitive.
Evan Williams, trainer of Gayebury
I have been struggling to find the right race to run in and I just thought this was worth a punt because he escapes a penalty. The form of his win has worked out well. He will handle ground conditions but whether he is up to the class I don't know.