FEW notebooks failed to contain the name of a certain Nicky Henderson horse at the end of last Jumps season. Although he didn’t show up at the Cheltenham or Aintree festivals, WHISPER still made a big impression, especially when coming fourth in the EBF Final at Sandown. His subsequent victory over Valdez at Cheltenham in April only added to the suspicion that Henderson had another good ‘un on his hands.
Whisper has made stealthy progress in his three runs this season and has been admirably consistent. He was not winning out of turn when victorious at Newbury recently and that followed a good third to Paul Nicholls’ progressive Saphir Du Rheu at Sandown.
The Welsh Champion Hurdle at Ffos Las looks the ideal race on Saturday for Whisper’s next step where he will reoppose the rapidly improving Saphir Du Rheu. Whisper is 16lb better off taking into account Harry Derham’s claim for the nine-length beating he received at Sandown and I think he will turn the tables. Medinas won this race last season before going on to win the Coral Cup. Lightning could very well strike twice.
The Grade One Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase has attracted just three runners but each one is interesting. Oscar Whisky will be tested by the Esher course’s tricky fences and the bottomless ground. Benvolio is very likeable and has showed a tremendous attitude. But MANYRIVERSTOCROSS could be some value at around 10/1. He jumped beautifully at Exeter before being taken off his feet in the Henry V111 at Sandown over 2m. He won’t mind the conditions or the trip and if he is back to his best he could run a huge race.
KUMBESHWAR ran far better than his form suggests at Cheltenham last weekend and is solid each-way value back at 2m in the 1.50 while the loveable PETE THE FEAT could defy top weight in the 3.35.
Two staying novice chasers to note: GREEN FLAG should take the Towton Novices’ Chase at Wetherby while I’ve always liked Willie Mullins’ SUNTIEP and he should be fitter for his debut in the 3.05 at Fairyhouse.