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Thistle be great: will Harry crack or can Sister claim some more famous scalps?

Unowhatimeanharry (No.1) makes a winning return at Aintree
1 of 1

3.00 Newbury
Ladbrokes Long Distance Hurdle (Grade 2) | 3m | ITV4/RUK

KEY QUESTIONS

Can Unowhatimeanharry repeat last year's win?

Unowhatimeanharry won this 12 months ago and went on to score three more times, notably in the Grade 1 Champion Stayers Hurdle at Punchestown.

That success means he carries a 6lb penalty here, but unlike last season he's had the benefit of a prep run, having won at Aintree last month.

"He's in good form," said trainer Harry Fry. "We had the luxury of going to Aintree three weeks ago, which put him spot on for this.

"He has a penalty but I couldn't be happier with him at home and what will be will be."

How competitive will Thistlecrack be back from injury and returning to hurdling?

Winning this two years ago set Thistlecrack on a path that took him to success in the World Hurdle at Cheltenham and victory in the King George VI Chase on just his fourth appearance over fences last December.

He's not been seen since his 2016-17 campaign was cut short when suffering a tendon injury last January, and trainer Colin Tizzard said: "He couldn't go to the King George without a run and this race fits in really well. He's done plenty of work and had a racecourse gallop.

"He's as fit as we need him for this. He'll run his race. He's probably on a par with Harry Fry's horse, he's had a run and we're getting 6lb off him."

Could Colin's Sister spring another surprise?

Colin's Sister was a 10-1 winner of the bet365 Hurdle at Wetherby last month and bypassed a Listed mares' hurdle at Kempton on Monday to bid for another Grade 2 success.

Colin's Sister (Paddy Brennan) lands the Bet365 Hurdle

"We're looking forward to taking on the boys and seeing where we are with her," said trainer Fergal O'Brien. "I'd have been happier if the ground were a bit softer but it will still take a bit of getting.

"We weren't just making up the numbers at Wetherby, she did it well and there was no fluke about it. She has a Grade 2 penalty but she has the mares' allowance. It's a lovely track, she's in good form and there'll be no excuses, she'll run her race."

Can Wholestone turn the tables on Colin's Sister?

Wholestone was giving 7lb to the winner when two lengths second to Colin's Sister in the bet365 Hurdle last month and is 3lb better off for their rematch.

He started joint favourite at Wetherby, and trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies said: "It was a bit disappointing but he's better off at the weights this time and I hope he can put it right.

"He's got a bit to find in this race, but where do you go with a horse like him? Let's have a go and see if he can improve a bit."

Will anything else get into the shake up?

Beer Goggles steps up to Grade 2 company having finished third in a handicap at Aintree last month, but Taquin Du Seuil was fourth in the Grade 1 Liverpool Hurdle on the same course in April.

"Taquin Du Seuil is in grand form," said trainer Jonjo O'Neill. "He could with a bit of rain but we've got to start him off somewhere. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens but it's a very good race, it's like the Stayers' Hurdle!"


Look back on a sizzling year of racing in the new edition of the Racing Post Annual, which has 208 colour pages packed with the best stories and pictures of 2017. Order now at racingpost.com/shop or call 01933 304858

He's as fit as we need him for this. He'll run his race
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