Barry Geraghty Sporting Insights 10/01/2020

Barry Geraghty’s Sporting Index blog: Notre Pari going the right way ahead of the Lanzarote

Mick Pastor

It was good Mick Pastor got his head in front at Ludlow on Wednesday. He obviously didn’t run up to expectations at Cheltenham, so it was definitely a step in the right direction.

The form of the race doesn’t look the strongest though and he’ll need to step up plenty to be considered for the juvenile races at Cheltenham. He’s improved from his first run of the season which is encouraging, but it’s quite a big leap of faith to say we’re at the level needed to be competitive at the Festival.

Kempton Saturday

My first ride of the day is Notre Pari for Olly Murphy in the Listed Lanzarote Hurdle (2.40pm). He won really nicely the last day at Aintree, where the step up to 2m4f looked to really suit. This race is more competitive and with the eight pound rise, he’ll need to improve again but he’s definitely going the right way.

It’s not as strong a race as it once was and you don’t get the same calibre of horses that we used to. It’s still an open 14-runner handicap hurdle, but the horse is improving and if he can step up from what he did at Aintree he should be there or thereabouts.

Later on the card, I’m on Nicky Henderson’s Never Adapt in the handicap hurdle (3.45pm).

She was very keen on her first start in Britain last year and was the same at Cheltenham last time. She’ll need to settle much better here, but she ran well the last day and finished the race nicely, so she clearly has ability. Hopefully she can build on that here, though getting her to switch off is the biggest issue.

There isn’t much you can do if they are that keen, you just have to sit and bear it and hope they calm down as the race goes on. Cheltenham can be easier to switch horses off because you have a climb away from the stands to help them but it’s not as easy at Kempton. The flat and sharp nature of the track doesn’t let you do that which won’t help her, though the smaller field might.

Silvianco Conti Chase

After Altior’s withdrawal, Top Notch looks the one to beat in the Silvianco Conti Chase on the back of his good win at Huntingdon. Having said that, if Frodon could return to his Ryanair form of last year he’d give the favourite plenty to think about. He’s rated seven pounds higher than Top Notch, so if he were to recapture his old spark, he’d be right there.

Moscow Flyer

Andy Dufresne was obviously pretty disappointing the last day, but back over two miles here should be more to his liking. You’d think he would need to be winning this to put his name in the picture for Cheltenham and he’ll need to put up a better show than he did at Navan last time.

He might not have it all his own way though as it looks a competitive race with Captain Guinness and Anything Will Do both looking dangerous.

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