Aintree 2015: Mersey Novices’ Hurdle preview (13:30)
Trainer Nicky Henderson has a good record in the Mersey Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree (13:30), and the progressive Days Of Heaven looks to hold leading claims of enhancing it.
The Seven Barrows handler has won two of the last four renewals of the 2m 4f contest with Spirit Son (2011) and Simonsig (2012), and also saddled the second home in 2013.
Like Spirit Son, Days Of Heaven carries the colours of owner Michael Buckley and comes into race the race on a roll having won his last three starts.
The five-year-old has always been held in high regard, but is a nervous sort who has taken time to mature and is now finally growing up and look the real deal.
After opening his account in good style at Ludlow, Days Of Heaven followed up in facile fashion at Doncaster before taking a step up in class in his stride to land the Grade 2 Dovecote Hurdle at Kempton last time out in impressive fashion.
Being waited with by jockey Barry Geraghty, Days Of Heaven challenged on the bridle when blundering two from home and quickly recovered to forge 2 3/4 lengths clear of Viva Collonges on the run-in.
The way in which the son of Saint Des Saints was able to overcome the blunder in such good style suggested he had a huge engine, and the front two pulled 32 lengths clear of the third home to give the form a solid look.
Connections wisely decided to swerve the Cheltenham Festival and keep Days Of Heaven fresh for this after that success and, with the prospect of plenty more to come, he looks the one they all have to beat.
Parlour Games and Nichols Canyon, who finished second and third respectively behind Windsor Park in the Neptune at the Cheltenham Festival, look the obvious dangers.
Trained by John Ferguson, Parlour Games finished 1 1/4 lengths in front of Willie Mullins’ charge, and I can’t see any reason why the placings should be reversed.
The seven-year-old has won four of his eight starts over hurdles and the last of those successes came in a a strong renewal Grade 1 Challow Hurdle at Newbury.
Parlour Games travelled powerfully off the pace and, after being produced to lead at the last, dug deep to get the better of dual Grade 2 winner Vyta Du Roc by a 1/4 of a length.
This horse will appreciate the better ground, and this sharp track should play to his strengths, as he was a decent sort on the level and not short of speed.