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Newton Abbot Preview: Keltus can silence Court Minstrel

Classy hurdlers Court Minstrel and Keltus make their eagerly awaited chasing debuts in the 4.00 at Newton Abbot today, and the latter can make the most of a hefty weight allowance to land the spoils.

Keltus started his career in France before joining Paul Nicholls and making a winning debut for the Ditcheat-based handler in a juevenile hurdle at Chepstow last October.
The gelding went on to finish an excellent fourth of 24 to Hawk High in the Fred Winter at the Cheltenham Festival, before rounding of the season with a solid fourth of 13 to Dispour in a competitive handicap hurdle at Sandown.

Those efforts earned Keltus an official hurdle rating of 131, and that is 23lb lower than main rival Court Minstrel.

However, as a four-year-old Keltus receives a hefty 11lb allowance from Ian Williams’ charge in this contest and there are reasons to believe that the small field will suit him far better.

Court Minstrel is best when coming from off a strong pace in big fields, and there is every chance that Keltus could be allowed his own way up front.

If that proves to be the case I can see Keltus being ridden aggressively and establishing what could be an unassailable lead ,and I also don’t think that the Williams’ camp will want Court Minstrel to have a hard race first time up.

In the 2m 3f handicap hurdle (4.30), Della Sun can take advantage of an ease in grade to get back on the winning trail.

The gelding was in good form last year when winning three times and is now just 3lb higher than when last successful.

That gives the eight-year-old a big shout at the weights, and he shaped as if coming back to form last time out when a solid third to Marju’s Quest in a class 3 contest at Worcester.

Della Sun now gets into this lower grade class 4 affair off the same mark of 115, and that makes the son of Della Francesca the one to beat in what looks a weak contest.

Trainer Neil Mulholland has sent out four winners from his last six runners, and Agapanthus can keep the good form rolling by landing the 2m 1f handicap hurdle (5.00).

The gelding failed to cut any ice over hurdles when trained by Barney Curley, but has been running well in the Channel Islands over the summer for his present handler.

Agapanthus is also 6lb lower than when finishing third at Wincanton back in December, and the booking of AP McCoy to do the steering suggests that connections mean business.

Selections:
2.30: Son Du Berlais
3.00: Unforgettable
3.30: Song Light
4.00: Keltus (NAP)
4.30: Della Sun (NB)
5.00: Agapanthus
5.30: Gorteenwood