Probably not the best Novice contest we will see on paper this season ahead, and although a few do have some decent form in previously, there is a very interesting Alan King Flat horse who is having his first run over hurdles.
The son of Kodiac Paradias had 16 runs on the level, all of them coming on turf, with the ground ranging from good-to-firm to soft on a few occasions. Knowing the Alan King horses, however, I would imagine a little bit of cut in the ground will suit this horse, especially now as he goes over obstacles.
In those 16 turf outings Paradias had over the last few seasons, he won on two occasions as well as placing seven other times, so not a bad strike rate at all.
Rated 95 in his absolute peak, he was a winner at Yarmouth off the mark of 80, before going on to run in some decent Class 3 and 2 handicaps over trips ranging from 1m 2f to 1m 4f.
His best career effort on the flat was a neck win over Lord Protector in a Class 3 contest at Sandown, which did earn him that career-high rating of 95. He ran in some very competitive contests thereafter, including his last run on the level in the Cambridgeshire at Newmarket, where he was a well-beaten 30th of 34 runners.
He produced a fairly decent level for his flat form, and if he can translate his rating of 95 over to hurdles, he could be a nice type going forward.
Alan King does very well with these types, and he has looked to have found Paradias the perfect opportunity to get off the mark here at the first attempt over obstacles.
It's no secret now that Venetia Williams has her horses firing on all cylinders at the moment, and the yard does usually go very well early on in the season.
The yard currently operates at a 29% win strike rate for the last 14 days, also coming off the back of Grade 1 success in the Betfair Chase at Haydock over the weekend with Royale Pagaille.
Heva Rose probably does fall a little short to their Grade 1 winner in terms of ratings and ability, just rated 98, but she could easily be well in on the ratings and could improve considerably after what she showed on chase debut at Lingfield last time.
On paper that could be deemed as a relative egg and spoon race, and although she was getting plenty of weight off them, she gave some 110+ rated horses a real beating that day.
Jumping superbly as all of Venetia's novice chasers do, she travelled strongly throughout before putting the race to bed in the closing stages with relative comfort, winning eased down by just under five lengths.
She does get a fair hike up in the weights for her troubles, but I feel that won't be enough to stop her as yet and she could really be on an upward trajectory now tackling larger obstacles.
Her hurdle form wasn't great, with the nine winless runs over the smaller obstacles, and just three third places, both in France and the UK. In what is typical with the yard’s horses Heva Rose has already shown so much more going over fences.
Charlie Deutsch is one of the best jockeys currently, and is just brilliant in getting his rides over fences smoothly. I think she currently holds a very lenient mark and could easily win another two or three races before getting a pretty large hike in the weights.
She could hardly have won on her chase debut any better, and there should be usual improvement to come here.
There is quite a decent card at Thurles on Thursday, with a nice beginners’ chase to open the card, and I think this is the race most will have their eyes on, as Fun Fun Fun makes her debut over hurdles for Willie Mullins.
She ran four times last season when operating in bumpers, winning both of her first starts, winning at Sligo with relative ease by 10 lengths for previous connections, before being purchased by the guys in double green, for whom she made her debut at Leopardstown in February.
That was a Grade 2 bumper, where she was sent off as favourite, and she duly obliged the market support nicely, when landing the contest with ease by nine and a half lengths.
She did take a pretty keen hold throughout the race, but that didn't deter her as she won going away in the end, looking a real nice prospect for the Mullins contingent.
She was then pitched into very good company when running in the Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival, where she came 15th of 21 runners, probably not getting the rub of the green during the race, before taking on Grade 3 company again at the Punchestown Festival.
She was expected to win that race when sent off the evens favourite, but did slightly disappoint when coming 4th, beaten by just under 10 lengths and weakening into the closing stages.
She looked to be a little tired after that run, so this 218-day break should have freshened her up nicely for the hurdle debut on Thursday, when she will be looking to make a successful start over obstacles before going onto bigger and better things as the season progresses.
Race previews provided by @ Jake Russell