David Noonan maintains his partnership with Gary Moore’s Le Patron as the pair seek a second Grade One victory this season in the Virgin Bet Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase at Sandown.
Having won the Henry VIII over two miles in early December, Moore is happy to step his charge back up in trip and, given he was not entered for the Arkle, connections seemingly view him as a horse for middle distances.
With stable jockey Jamie Moore still on the sidelines, Caoilin Quinn and Niall Houlihan have been riding the majority of the string, but as Noonan did the steering last time out, he has been entrusted with the ride once again.
“He was pretty good when he won at Sandown last time,” said Moore.
“He’s had a bit of a break with this race in mind, but he’s got to prove it again now.
“I think moving back up in trip is a benefit. When he won first time, and I know it wasn’t a very clever race he won at Fontwell, but it was only good ground that day and I think he will be fine on it.
“David keeps the ride, as I like continuity. He knows where his feet are and he has been good over fences, so I hope he is on Saturday as well.”
Venetia Williams won the race two years ago with L’Homme Presse, who went on to win at the Cheltenham Festival, but it remains to be seen if her Djelo can scale those heights.
He looked very good in winning his first three over fences but then Charlie Deutsch had the misfortune of being knocked out of his saddle at the very first fence in the Lightning Novices’ Chase last time out.
“He’s fine since Lingfield and Charlie gave him another pop over the fences on Thursday morning,” said Williams.
“We hope for a bit better luck this time and obviously, as you would expect for a Grade One, it’s a strong race, but he deserves to take his chance.
“This is a much stronger race than anything he has been in before but it is to be expected.”
The Paul Nicholls-trained Hermes Allen could not get close to French star Il Est Francais at Christmas but his time still compared favourably to those in the King George later on the card.
“He couldn’t lay a glove on the hugely impressive Kempton winner Il Est Francais, who looked like a machine on Boxing Day,” Nicholls told Betfair.
“But he kept on to finish second and I’m sure a stiff two and a half miles will suit him well. There should be plenty of pace, which will be in the favour of Hermes Allen, who worked pleasingly on Thursday morning.”
Hermes Allen had previously recorded a convincing victory at Newbury on his debut over fences, with the reopposing Nickle Back six and a half lengths behind in second.
Jamie Snowden’s Colonel Harry finished just over a length behind Le Patron in the Henry VIII and has subsequently stepped up in trip to win the Grade Two Towton at Wetherby.
“He’s had a wonderful season over fences so far and just got touched off in the Henry VIII,” said Snowden.
“He improved for going up in trip when winning the Towton last time out and we’ll now have another crack at a Grade One at Sandown.
“It looks a very competitive race, but our chap is in great order; he’s fresh, he’s well and bounced out of Wetherby, and fingers crossed he can run another decent race.”
Colonel Harry sports the same colours as those of Coral Gold Cup winner Datsalrightgino, who suffered a fatal fall at Cheltenham last weekend.
“It was not nice for anybody and to lose a wonderful horse like Datsalrightgino was very hard and very tough for the whole team, the owners and everyone, but hopefully we can bounce back here,” said Snowden.
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