Aintree 2015: Sefton Novices’ Hurdle preview (16:40)
Minella Rocco has created a huge impression in winning his first two starts, and can take the step up into Grade 1 company in his stride to land the 3m 1f Sefton Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree (16:40).
This gelding was bought for £260k by leading Irish owner JP McManus after landing an Irish point last March, and scored in terrific style on his hurdles debut for trainer Jonjo O’Neill when easily beating the well-regarded West Wizard by six lengths at Kempton.
The five-year-old followed up in facile fashion at Newbury when never coming off the bridle to beat Royal Vacation by seven lengths, and the runner-up is a decent sort who had previously been beaten 8 1/2 lengths by subsequent Supreme Novices’ Hurdle fifth Qewy.
That gives the form a strong look, especially as Minella Rocco hardly had to break sweat to get the job done with the minimum of fuss.
The son of King’s Theatre has a high cruising speed and huge engine, so is clearly a very exciting prospect who has the potential to be something special.
With further improvement assured, and AP McCoy in the saddle, Minella Rocco looks one to keep onside and capable of landing the hat-trick.
Vyta Du Roc is the form horse in the race, and rates a big danger based on his fourth to Windsor Park in the 2m 5f Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
The Nicky Henderson trained gelding kept on well to be beaten just 5 1/4 lengths after making a bad blunder at the last, and would have finished much closer but for that costly error.
Prior to that the six-year-old had won his first three starts of the season, showing progressive form on each occasion, before finishing an excellent neck second to Parlour Games in the Challow Hurdle at Newbury.
The step up in trip looks sure to suit and, providing this doesn’t come too soon after his tough race at Cheltenham, Vyta Du Roc looks sure to go close.
Of the others, Irish raider Alpha Des Obeaux could go well at a big price.
The five-year-old has only had four starts over the obstacles, winning once and finishing runner-up on three occasions.
On the last of those Alpha Des Obeaux was beaten 3 3/4 lengths by subsequent Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner Douvan over an inadequate 2m trip, and this stamina test will suit far better.