Fingers crossed for a flying start to April

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Friday April 1

Aintree is only six days away, but more immediately our eyes are on two tasty £40,000 prizes at Newbury tomorrow, with Avispa heading for the EBF Mares Final and Pemba for the Juvenile Handicap Hurdle.

Alan said:”It was good to see Avispa bounce back to form when second at Ludlow last week. Two miles around there was plenty sharp enough for her, but the idea was to get her back on track, and she needs some decent ground.

“We’ll be looking for Pemba to fire again after her disappointing run at Exeter, where she could not cope with the very holding ground. On her previous form she would have a definite chance off 120.

Ned Stark, denied a run at Chepstow on Monday because of the ground, has been re-routed to the Jack Berry House Handicap Chase. He has been disappointing this season and we think he is maybe better suited by bigger weights In lesser races, but we are very much looking for the key with him again.

“We start the day with Herewego Herewego in the novice hurdle. He showed promise when fourth here on his debut, but, while we like him, he will be a better horse with another summer on his back.”

We also have runners at Ascot on Sunday, and, assessing their chances, Alan added:”We kick off with Midnight Cowboy in the maiden hurdle. He has been placed a few times, but I think he is capable of better than he has shown and have been disappointed that he has not yet won. Maybe the ground has been responsible, so, hopefully, it will keep drying our over the next 48 hours.

Oceane runs in the £40,000 handicap hurdle there, He missed Cheltenham to wait for this and is in very good form, but, while progressive, he, too, needs the ground to improve, so the more the sun shines the better for him.

“We run two in the conditional jockeys handicap hurdle. Salmanazar was taken off his feet over two and a half miles at Kempton and I am sure that he will appreciate this step up in trip, especially if the ground continues to dry out, while the ground is also the key to The Tourard Man, who disappointed over fences and then found the ground too soft when switched back to hurdles.”