Grand National Festival: Gangster to call the shots in Sefton Novices’ Hurdle
David Metcalf | April 7, 2016
Gangster can gun down rivals in Sefton Novices’ Hurdle
Gangster failed to live up to expectations last time out but with the ground coming in his favour can bounce back to land the Grade 1 Doom Bar Sefton Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree (16.40).
The gelding was bought by the Gigginstown House Stud following two runs in France, and made a winning debut for champion Irish trainer Willie Mullins when easily landing a minor contest at Roscommon last June.
Gangster then disappointed when sent off odds-on at Galway and finishing just fifth, but showed that running to be all wrong when slamming After Rain by eight lengths at Listowel on his final start last season.
Despite the ease of the success, the six-year-old looked far from the finished article and the type that would do much better once he strengthened up and filled into his frame.
Fairyhouse win oozed class
That view was confirmed when Gangster took the step up into Grade 3 company in his stride to make a winning return to action over 3m at Fairyhouse.
After being settled behind the leaders, Gangster made smooth headway to take up the running two from home before surging clear to beat Last Encounter easily by 10 lengths.
It was a most taking performance which marked Gangster out as a very exciting prospect.
Although he could finish only seventh in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham last month, the quick going was against Gangster and he is likely to be seen in much better light now getting the cut in the ground that he desires.
Ballydine not to be underestimated
Ballydine posted a cracking effort when runner-up last time out and looks a big player for trainer Charlie Longsdon.
The six-year-old made Barters Hill pull out all the stops when going down by just 3/4 of a length in a Grade 2 contest at Doncaster.
Ballydine made smooth headway to challenge on the bridle two from home, but got outbattled after the final flight by the tough as nails winner.
Barters Hill has since gone on to finish a fine fourth in the Albert Bartlett at the Cheltenham Festival, and that gives the form a strong look.
Ballydine also remains open to plenty more improvement after just five career starts and connections resisted the temptation to run him at Cheltenham to save him for this.
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