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Scilly Isles Spectacular! – Runner-By-Runner Preview Of Saturday’s Grade 1 Contest

2022 Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase Runner-By-Runner Preview

There’s Grade 1 action in prospect at Sandown on Saturday as the track plays host to the Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase. This year’s renewal promises to be a cracker, with L’Homme Presse and Pic D’Orhy set to do battle, as well as a fine supporting cast in contention that includes impressive Haydock winner Adrimel. Our expert has produced their in-depth preview of the Scilly Isles below, which includes a big race verdict.

1. ADRIMEL (Tom Lacey)

Grade 2 winning novice hurdler last season; first-time cheekpieces applied, but subsequently failed to complete in Grade 1s at the Cheltenham and Aintree Festivals, as well as on his seasonal/chase debut at Exeter. The addition of first-time blinkers brought about marked improvement when going in at Haydock last time (Fugitif pulled-up), but there’s no guarantees that the headgear works a second time, particularly on ground expected to be far quicker than ideal.

2. FUGITIF (Richard Hobson)

Progressive sort who has stepped forward significantly on his hurdling exploits since switched to fences, a failure to complete at Haydock splitting victories at Worcester and Newcastle. That recent Newcastle success came at the expense of Dreams Of Home, and on a formline through that rival he has a fair bit of ground to make up with Adrimel, whilst a rating of 135 is the joint-lowest in the field.

3. GLADIATEUR ALLEN (Jane Williams)

Out of sorts over hurdles earlier this season, yet he improved for the switch to the larger obstacles when going in at Exeter in December; form franked. Subsequently just shy of 30l behind Pic D’Orhy at Ascot, however, and there’s no obvious reason why he will reverse that form here.

4. L’HOMME PRESSE (Venetia Williams)

Respectable hurdler but he has improved out of all recognition (as many from the yard do) since switched to the larger obstacles. Brought his record in this sphere to an unblemished 3-3 when landing the Grade 2 Dipper Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day, streaking clear on the run-in to score by 10l. Looked a Grade 1 operator that day and whilst the form admittedly looks a little open to question he remains a very exciting chaser.

5. MISTER COFFEY (Nicky Henderson)

Dual hurdles winner who wasn’t beaten far in a handicap at the Aintree Festival last April. Slightly disappointing to see him beaten on seasonal/chase debut at Newbury in November but he came agonisingly close to correcting that when beaten less than a length at Kempton on Boxing Day. He looked far from the easiest ride that day, however, and that showing came at handicap level, so significantly more is required upped to this grade.

6. PIC D’ORHY (Paul Nicholls)

2020 Betfair Hurdle winner who broke a five-race losing streak when scoring, returned to fences, at Ffos Las in October. Has held his form since that victory, falling when looking set to score at Newbury in November and gaining compensation for that spill when impressively landing a Grade 2 at Ascot in December. Not a great deal between him and L’Homme Presse on that showing, yet that Newbury fall wasn’t the first time that he has taken a chance at a fence and he probably lacks the scope for improvement that L’Homme Presse holds.

Big Race Verdict

On all known form this looks a clash between Pic D’Orhy and L’HOMME PRESSE, with Venetia Williams’ charge backed to come out on top. This 7yo brought his chase record to an unblemished 3-3 when landing the Dipper Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day. Whilst that form is a little open to question, his jumping at this stage looks far more assured than that of his main market rival and he appears to hold a greater scope for improvement, so there appears no reason to oppose him even at the forecast prices. Those pair look a class above the remainder, but in the battle for third place Mister Coffey gets the nod.