Spirit can rise to the occasion in Supreme Trial Novices’ Hurdle at Ascot


Lots to like about Lough Derg Spirit in Ascot showpiece

Lough Derg Spirit created a huge impression when winning last time out and can further enhance his 2017 Cheltenham Festival credentials with success in the Grade 2 Supreme Trial Novices’ Hurdle at Ascot on Friday (13.55).

The four-year-old, who joined trainer Nicky Henderson after winning an Irish point back in May, made virtually all and jumped superbly to easily beat the highly-regarded Coup De Pinceau by 3 1/2 lengths in the 2m Coolmore Stallions EBF “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle at Kempton last month.

Lough Derg Spirit showed tremendous speed, given that his point win came over 3m, and jockey Jeremiah McGrath had a real struggle pulling him up after the winning line.

It was a most taking performance which suggested the gelding had a huge future and needed keeping firmly onside.

Can take step up in class in his stride

This does represent a step up in class but Lough Derg Spirit is open to any amount of improvement and hails from a yard in fine form at present.

I fully expect him to come through the test with flying colours en route to a possible crack at the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle which gets proceedings underway at the 2017 Cheltenham Festival on Tuesday, March 14th.

Lough Derg Spirit is currently 14/1 with Coral in the ante post betting for that 2m contest.

Stablemate Thomas Campbell feared most

Henderson also saddles Thomas Campbell who has a progressive profile and looks the main danger to the selection.

The four-year-old looked a smart prospect when landing a bumper by 14 lengths at Kelso back in May and confirmed that view when making a winning debut over the obstacles at Cheltenham.

After racing prominently throughout, Thomas Campbell overcame a mistake at the last to forge clear and beat stable companion Khezerabad by 2 3/4 lengths.

It was a most taking performance and Thomas Campbell has since gone on to score impressively over course and distance when pulling readily clear after the final flight to easily beat Criq Rock by four lengths.

Judge on those displays he is another exciting prospect for the master of Seven Barrows.

Captain Forez commands plenty of respect

Captain Forez shaped with plenty of promise on debut for trainer Dan Skelton and is another fascinating contender.

The gelding, who finished runner-up on his sole start in France, travelled strongly until weakening late on to finish third to Jenkins in a hot 13-runner maiden hurdle at Newbury.

Pingshiu, who finished fourth, has come out and won since to give the form a boost and the winner is a very highly regarded stable companion of the selection who is currently 7/1 joint-favourite with Coral for the 2017 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.

Captain Forez looks sure to come on a bundle for that outing and in receipt of 4lb from Lough Derg Spirit looks sure to make his presence felt.


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Coral’s top tip: Trainer Nickey Henderson saddles two very exciting prospects in the shape of Lough Derg Spirit and Thomas Campbell and the former rates a solid bet to come out on top and further enhance his 2017 Cheltenham Festival claims.

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