Fusil Raffles in Elite mix


Henderson hurdler among eight Wincanton entries.

Fusil Raffles is one of eight possible runners in the Unibet Elite Hurdle at Wincanton.

So impressive when making a successful British debut in the Adonis Hurdle at Kempton in February, the Nicky Henderson-trained four-year-old was subsequently ruled out of the Cheltenham Festival after suffering injury.

However, he gained ample compensation with a Grade One success at Punchestown in early May – and could make his first competitive appearance since then on Saturday in a Grade Two contest Henderson won last season with the smart mare Verdana Blue.

Paul Nicholls has both Grand Sancy and Quel Destin in the mix, while Dr Richard Newland’s Le Patriote is another serious contender on what would be his first start since landing the Swinton Hurdle at Haydock five months ago.

Grade Two honours are also up for grabs on a classy card in the John Romans Park Homes ‘Rising Stars’ Novices’ Chase.

Nicholls has claimed this prize five times in the last 10 years, and looks set to saddle recent Worcester scorer If You Say Run.

Her potential rivals include Colin Tizzard’s pair of Vision Des Flos and Reserve Tank, the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained Ballymoy, Dan Skelton’s Solomon Grey and Commanche Red from Chris Gordon’s yard.

The latter made an encouraging start to his career over fences when third behind Nube Negra and Ballymoy at Warwick last month.

Gordon said: “It was a real nice start over fences at Warwick, and he jumped really well.

Tom (Cannon) said he might have got to the front a bit too early, but that doesn’t really matter and it is irrelevant now.

“We thought we would pop him in at Wincanton and have a look at the race, because it can break up sometimes.

If there are not too many runners we might end up having a little go.

“He won at Wincanton over two miles last year, so we know he acts at the course, and at Warwick you could say that he wants a bit more of a trip.

“He is a good-moving horse and he wouldn’t want it too soft, so Wincanton is ideal for that.

The Badger Beers Silver Trophy is always a competitive affair – and this year’s renewal appears to be no exception.

Present Man has claimed top honours in each of the last two seasons for the Nicholls team and is contention again, along with his highly-regarded stablemate Give Me A Copper.

Other hopefuls include Achille – whose trainer Venetia Williams claimed this prize with the top-class Teeton Mill in 1998 – Neil King’s stable star Lil Rockerfeller and Jonjo O’Neill’s Cloth Cap.

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