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Mulholland hopes Any News can deliver

Neil Mulholland is hoping Any News can hit the headlines in the Ballymore Winter Novices’ Hurdle at Sandown.

The five-year-old has done everything asked of him in his short career so far, winning both his starts under rules.

Successful in a bumper at Exeter in October, Any News then won easily by 10 lengths on his hurdling bow at Bangor last month.

Both races were around two miles, and Mulholland expects Friday’s step up to two and a half miles to suit.

“He’s in good form. He’s a nice horse obviously. He’s won his two races for us,” said the Wiltshire trainer.

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“There are five runners, and I suppose they are all at the same level as we are. We will find out a little bit more about him – but he’s a nice horse going forward, and we’re very happy with him.

“It looked like he was going to win a point-to-point one day (before falling), so I’d like to think he should be fine – I wouldn’t be worried about stepping him up in trip.”

Evan Williams echoed similar sentiments on Star Gate, who made a successful debut over hurdles at Chepstow five weeks ago – having won a point-to-point in February.

“He’s in the deep end a bit,” said the Llancarfan trainer.

“We’ve gone from a little maiden hurdle to a Grade Two – but it cut up, so we thought we’d give it a try.

“Obviously it’s very competitive. Everyone in the race will probably be in the same boat. We’ll see how we get on and go on from there.

“He’s a lovely young horse and very much one for the future. He’s the youngest one in the field, but at the end of the day it’s a nice race. It looks the right race at the right time.”

Trainer Paul Nicholls saddles Sending Love
Trainer Paul Nicholls saddles Sending Love (John Walton/PA)

Sending Love has had a bit more experience, and Paul Nicholls believes a wind operation has benefited the five-year-old.

“A wind op over the summer has helped transform Sending Love, who bounced back to form with a highly impressive success at Ffos Las a month ago,” the Ditcheat handler told his Betfair blog.

“I tend to blame myself for being too hard on him before his second start for us last March at Wincanton – where he ran a shocker, way below expectations.

“I’ve been easier on him this time round, training him differently, and half expected him to need the outing at Ffos Las.

“The more it rains at Sandown the better for Sending Love who is in really good shape at home. He is a nice horse with a big chance.”

Completing the quintet are Chris Gordon’s Press Your Luck, winner of both his starts over hurdles, and the Alan King-trained Vallares, victorious at Wetherby in October but beaten at odds-on at Ludlow last month.