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Thursday Tips

Nicky Henderson
Image: Nicky Henderson will bid for another Sidney Banks success

Jango Baie can rubber-stamp his Cheltenham Festival ticket with victory at Huntingdon.

The five-year-old has won each of his two starts under rules for Nicky Henderson, claiming a nose victory over Tellherthename on his initial start at Ascot in November before powering to Grade One glory in the Formby Novices' Hurdle - formerly known as the Tolworth - at Aintree on Boxing Day. He may have enjoyed a slice of fortune in that Farren Glory fell when still travelling well at the penultimate flight, but there could be little arguing with the way he stayed on resolutely on very testing ground for a near three-length verdict.

The M1 Agency Sidney Banks Memorial Novices' Hurdle sees Jango Baie step up to just short of two and a half miles for the first time, but he finished a fine second over that sort of trip in the point-to-point field, chasing home well-regarded fellow Festival hope No Flies On Him. Henderson's runner must also should a 5lb penalty dropping back to Listed company, but he remains clear on the ratings and certainly does not appear to have reached the end of his ability yet.

The Seven Barrows team also have a likely type in Goblet Of Fire, who contests the Mulberry Developments Novices' Handicap Hurdle. He made the leap from an initial fourth to win at Hereford last month, accounting for Maasai Mara by two and a quarter lengths, with that one subsequently boosting the form with a cosy Catterick triumph last week. His four-year-old weight allowance could prove very handy here.

Pentland Hills represents the Henderson team in Doncaster's SBK Handicap Hurdle and while stable jockey Nico de Boinville will be aboard Russian Ruler, preference is for the Freddie Gordon-ridden top weight. A dual Grade One winner in his pomp, Pentland Hills endured some lengthy absences and has not hit his previous heights since returning, although he did manage a Flat win and a chase success, albeit in a walkover. His second over hurdles at Doncaster in December looked a promising start to the year and while he has been raised 2lb, Gordon's 5lb claim negates that.

Aljari can thrive for a return to seven furlongs in the Stay Golden With BetMGM Safer Gambling Handicap at Lingfield. Tom Clover sent him over six for his first start of 2024 and while he kept on to be third, beaten just a length, he did not have that extra bit of sprinting pace on the all weather. Moving back up looks a wise move off an unchanged mark of 88.

Kinako Mochi chased home the ill-fated Hellfire Bay on her only start to date and she takes the eye returning from a lay off in the Win £2,000,000 With BetMGM's Golden Goals Fillies' Novice Stakes. Beaten just over a length in second, four subsequent winners finished behind her that day, including the admirable Woodhay Wonder who went on to place at Group Two level and win two richly-endowed sales events. A 350,000 guineas as a yearling, the Roger Varian-trained Kinako Mochi holds an Irish 1,000 Guineas entry and should be more than capable of winning something like this.

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Spartan Fighter showed signs of a renaissance at Southwell last month and is one for the shortlist in the Stay Golden With BetMGM Safer Gambling Handicap at Newcastle. He never quite lived up to his juvenile promise but has proved a fine campaigner for Anthony Brittain, winning six times at Gosforth Park, most recently off a mark of 80 in 2022. Clearly his form has slipped since then, but lining up off 56 now, Spartan Fighter could show his winning spirit again.

SELECTIONS:

DONCASTER: 12.55 Long Draw, 1.30 Fete Champetre, 2.05 Wreckless Eric, 2.40 Better Getalong, 3.15 Lightfoot Lady, 3.50 Tom Cody, 4.25 Sanitiser.

HUNTINGDON: 1.05 Flintara, 1.40 Goblet Of Fire, 2.15 Friary Rock, 2.50 JANGO BAIE (NAP), 3.25 Urban Soldier, 4.00 Wise Guy, 4.35 Blue Las.

LINGFIELD: 1.15 Handel, 1.50 Kinako Mochi, 2.25 Aljari, 3.00 Tres Chic, 3.35 Triple Nickle, 4.10 Artician, 4.45 Harb.

NEWCASTLE: 4.30 Valsad, 5.05 Masterpainter, 5.35 Spartan Fighter, 6.05 Torvar, 6.35 Likeashadow, 7.05 Memories Maker, 7.35 Latin Five.

THURLES: 1.20 Feu De Bresil, 1.55 Thedancingfarrier, 2.30 Kushkame, 3.05 Diamond Duke, 3.40 Hollow Rodger, 4.15 Toor Moon, 4.50 Coco Masterpiece.

DOUBLE: Jango Baie and Goblet Of Fire.

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