The gg.com Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Chase at Towcester was abandoned due to fog, but the concluding NH Flat Race will take place as scheduled. Press Association
Thousand Stars wins Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown
2.27pm: Thousand Stars made every yard of the running under Ruby Walsh to run out a comfortable winner of the Ladbrokes.com Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown.
The Grade One prize was the intended target of Champion Hurdle-winning stablemate Hurricane Fly and although he was ruled out earlier in the week, the dashing grey Thousand Stars proved an able substitute.
Sent off the well supported 5-4 favourite for his first start since winning the French Champion Hurdle in June, Willie Mullins’ seven-year-old was hurdling fluently out in front and had the strongly fancied Pittoni in trouble from before the turn for home.
Oscars Well loomed up menacingly at the top of the straight but when Walsh asked Thousand Stars to quicken, he soon asserted and he produced a fine leap at the final flight to secure a five-and-a-half length win. Press Association
Today’s best bets, by Chris Cook
The excellent news this morning is that Kauto Star is fine and, according to Paul Nicholls, showing almost no sign of what looked a hard race in winning the Betfair at Haydock on Saturday. It is really exciting to think of him taking on Long Run and Master Minded in the King George at Boxing Day and I don’t think I would care to choose between them.
That being said, anyone who fancies Kauto Star to win the Kempton race for a fifth time might be best to wait until the day before backing him. He has been remarkably sound through his career and we hope it will continue to be so but, even aside from the usual injury concerns about any veteran chaser, there must be a chance that at some stage Nicholls and Clive Smith, the horse’s owner, may decide to keep him fresh for the Cheltenham Gold Cup. The King George is only five weeks away and it may be that, at this stage of his career, Kauto Star benefits from more of a gap between his races.
Today’s best racing is at Punchestown, where Oscars Well (2.10) has a fine chance to land the Morgiana Hurdle in the absence of Hurricane Fly. A really impressive winner of Leopardstown’s Deloitte, which is nearly always a decent race, he was unlucky not to win the Neptune at the Cheltenham Festival, when he landed awkwardly over the last and lost all chance. He will be much sharper for his reappearance run, when he blew up on the run-in, and is over-priced at 2-1 against three rivals. Pittoni is on the up but still has a lot to prove in this company.
The Craddockstown Novice Chase is another influential race and Noel Meade, who won it last year with Realt Dubh, may follow up with Monastrell (1.10), who finally showed signs of a professional approach when scoring over fences at Naas last month. At the expected odds of around 9-2, he is preferred to Lucky William, whose recent form figures might give an exaggerated impression of his ability.
The application of ear plugs has got Renard (2.30) to settle and he may get a third win on the bounce for Venetia Williams. The two miles at Lingfield looked a touch on the sharp side for him last time but Exeter is more of test. He is still well treated on an 8lb higher mark.
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