Aintree 2015: Anniversary Juvenile Hurdle preview (14:15)
Hargam has some top class for to his name and looks a worthy favourite to provide champion jockey AP McCoy with another big race winner in the Anniversary Juvenile Hurdle at Aintree (14:15).
This gelding was a useful sort on the level in France when trained by Alain De Royer Dupre, and put in a highly promising run on his debut for Nicky Henderson when a 3/4 length runner-up to Golden Doyen at Cheltenham.
The four-year-old travelled strongly throughout the contest, but was a bit slow at a couple of hurdles and got worried out of it close home.
Hargam then showed the benefit of that experience when going one better to open his account in good style at the same venue, before following up in facile fashion when beating Starchitecht by six lengths in the the JCB Triumph Hurdle trial at Musselburgh on good ground.
The son of Sindarr then posted a career-best effort last time out in the Triumph Hurdle itself at the Cheltenham Festival when a cracking third of 16 to stable companion Peace And Co on soft ground which wasn’t ideal.
Hargam travelled strongly on the heels of the leaders and, after taking up the running briefly between the final two flights and holding every chance at the last, was unable to find any extra on the stiff uphill run in to be beaten four lengths.
That is ultra-strong form, setting the standard in this line-up and, off an official rating of 152, Hargam has 3lb and upwards in hand on his rivals. This sharper, flatter track also looks sure to suit, and the return to quicker going is another big plus.
Bristol De Mai is the closest in the ratings to Hargam, and the French import looked a very smart prospect when making a winning debut for trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies in a Grade 1 contest at Chepstow on heavy ground.
However, the four-year-old has failed to build on that initial promise, and been soundly beaten in two subsequent starts and it may well be that he needs bottomless conditions to be seen at his best.
For that reason I can’t see him being speedy enough to cope with the selection, and Devilment may well emerge as the main danger to Hargham.
The John Ferguson trained gelding finishhed fourth in the Triumph, 10 lengths behind Hargham, but being flat-bred will appreciate the better ground, and may well get closer now returned to a venue which places less emphasis on stamina.