Saturday 18 November 2017

General leads champion charge

General Miller winner of the John Smith's Top Novices' Hurdle Race at Aintree. Photo: Getty Images
General Miller winner of the John Smith's Top Novices' Hurdle Race at Aintree. Photo: Getty Images

Nicky Henderson's General Miller will look to follow up his Aintree victory in tomorrow's Evening Herald Champion Novice Hurdle at the Punchestown Festival.

A first-flight casualty in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham, won by Menorah, he left connections wondering what might have been when beating Philip Hobbs' charge at Aintree.

Another British raider is Charlie McBride's Rollwiththepunches, second to another smart Hobbs novice, Captain Chris, on his last start at Kempton.

Willie Mullins runs Flat Out, fifth in the Supreme, and Blackstairmountain, who disappointed at Cheltenham but ran much better when only worn down close home by Luska Lad at Fairyhouse.

Henry de Bromhead lets the exciting Loosen My Load take his chance, while Sweeps Hill, a classy bumper performer last term, has his first run of the calendar year.

Tom Mullins relies upon Some Slam, winner of a Naas maiden hurdle on his last start.

The Gordon Elliott-trained Grey Soldier, a disappointment in the Dovecote at Kempton, Eddie Harty's Baron De'l and Tilabay complete the line-up.

Loosen My Load had looked a very nice prospect earlier in the season when scoring at Cheltenham in November.

While his trainer expects improvement from his Fairyhouse run, in which he finished fourth to Luska Lad, De Bromhead is unsure whether or not he is up to Grade One class.

"He hated the ground the last day at Fairyhouse but it was his first run for nearly five months," said De Bromhead.

"He'll come on a great deal for that, I expect, but he will have to as this is a Grade One.

"He needs to improve and I'm hoping he will. He's a really nice horse but I'm just not sure if he's a Grade One hurdler.

"Whatever happens, he's a smashing prospect for fences next season."

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