Scriptwriter, Coral Adonis Juvenile Hurdle, horse racing
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Coral Adonis Juvenile Hurdle: Scriptwriter the one to beat

| 24.02.2023

Scriptwriter is the 7/4 favourite to cement his place as Britain’s leading JCB Triumph Hurdle hope by winning the Coral Adonis Juvenile Hurdle at Kempton on Saturday.

Milton Harris won the Grade Two contest with Knight Salute 12 months ago and is treading the same path to the Cheltenham Festival with his classy recruit from Aidan O’Brien’s all-conquering Flat string.

A winner of his first two hurdling starts and also successful when having a spin on the all-weather at Wolverhampton in December, he was beaten less than a length by Joseph O’Brien’s Comfort Zone at Prestbury Park on Trials Day.

He lost little in defeat that day and Harris now hopes he can regain the winning thread to gather some momentum towards the Festival in this £80,000 contest.

He said: “He’s in good form. It’s well publicised that Paddy (Brennan) and I both agree that we got tactics a bit wrong at Cheltenham last time, without wishing to take anything away from the winner.

“It’s going to be a difficult task with a penalty, but he seems in good form and is probably the leading British juvenile and I have no problem with the horse’s form and well-being heading into the race.

“The Adonis is a good race in its own right and we did consider going fresh to the Triumph, but this is an £80,000 good race and it needs supporting. Cheltenham isn’t the be-all and end-all of everything, even though it is clearly our main target, but he is a juvenile hurdler.

“This horse has a Flat rating of 104 and ran to 104 when he ran on the Flat not so long ago and you have to ask yourself could any of these run to 104 on the Flat?

“We’re very happy and have had a clean run (since Cheltenham) and it would be very good for Paddy and the owners. The horse is a very nice horse and we’ll be doing our best.”

Scriptwriter has another Joseph O’Brien horse to take on this time in the form of 7/2 second favourite Nusret, who looked good at Punchestown in the autumn before finishing third in deep contests the last twice.

Paul Nicholls also looks to have a smart prospect for a race he has won three times in the last 10 years in the form of 4/1 shot Rare Middleton.

A winner at Leopardstown for Andy Oliver in the autumn, he soon transferred to Ditcheat for 215,000 guineas and made a winning debut for the champion trainer at Taunton last month.

Alan King is another with a fine record in the Coral Adonis Juvenile Hurdle and relies on Spartan Army, while Nicky Henderson last won this in 2019 with Fusil Raffles and unleashes the former William Haggas-trained mare Pawapuri, who was rated 85 on the level and looks an interesting hurdling newcomer for the Seven Barrows handler.

A new name to the training ranks is Ben Brookhouse and he is looking to his first-ever winner Sarsons Risk to build on victory at Doncaster and put his name on the map.

He said: “He seems to have come out of Doncaster well and he is a likeable type and seems to want to do it.

“He only had three days off after Doncaster but it was like a piece of work to him in all fairness. We are just pressing on now and looking forward to the Adonis.

“I think he is very special and he has a big engine now that we have sorted his wind issue out. His jumping at Doncaster was as slick as you like, which is a big thing for juveniles.

“I think he definitely deserves his place on Saturday. There is the voice in your head telling you he will win this without too much fuss, potentially, but then you have the realistic voice in your head saying everyone is thinking this. I think he has got a very good chance but the opposition is strong.”

Gary Moore’s Perseus Way finished second to Scriptwriter at Cheltenham on his hurdling debut and has gone on to acquire a rating of 125 over timber thanks to a placed effort in a Chepstow Grade Two and a commanding victory in the Chatteris Fen.

That Huntingdon success was given a timely boost when the runner-up bolted up at the same track on Thursday, but Moore believes his charge needs to raise his game.

He said: “It will be different to Huntingdon, a bit tougher race. He’s wrong with a few horses in the race handicap wise, but I just felt he had to have a go. He can go there and get the same prize money as the Fred Winter and I think the track will suit him.

“He’s a horse we like a lot, but he’s got to up his game a bit on Saturday. Scriptwriter is a 104-rated Flat horse isn’t he, but he wasn’t far behind him at Cheltenham the first time so we’ll just have to have a go at it.”

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Andrew McDermott

Andrew is a sports betting content journalist at PA Media. He is a lifelong Huddersfield Town fan but when he isn't reminiscing about their Premier League days he is also a junior cricket coach and enjoys cycling.