Take Virtue for Sedgefield success

Russian Virtue can complete a four-timer in the Free Tips Daily On attheraces.com Handicap Hurdle at Sedgefield.

The six-year-old is now at his third yard following previous spells with David Menuisier and Clare Hobson and appears to have found a happy home judged on recent results.

Having been placed previously under both codes, Russian Virtue opened his account in some style in a handicap hurdle at Newcastle in early December – cruising into contention before pulling readily clear.

An 8lb hike was not enough to stop him following up at Musselburgh early in the New Year and he successfully reverted to the Flat to complete his hat-trick at Newcastle earlier this week, with his stamina kicking in late in the day over a mile and a quarter.

Russian Virtue returns to the jumping game 5lb higher in the weights than when triumphing at Musselburgh, but he is clearly in the form of his life and can provide trainer Rebecca Menzies with another winner at her local track.

The Donald McCain-trained Nell's Bells looks champion jockey Brian Hughes' best chance of a winner on the card in the opening Download The At The Races App Mares' Novices' Hurdle.

The daughter of Milan won a Carlisle bumper by 17 lengths last winter and was subsequently highly tried – finishing down the field in a Listed race at Cheltenham and a Grade Two at Aintree.

While she came up short in more exalted company, she proved good enough to make a winning hurdling debut at Wetherby on Boxing Day and is expected to defy the mandatory penalty at this level.

Inneston can open his account in Britain in the EBF 'National Hunt' Novices' Hurdle at Fontwell.

The five-year-old beat Irish Point when winning a French bumper on debut, form which has been well advertised with the runner-up since finishing second in two Grade Ones for Gordon Elliott.

On the strength of that effort Inneston was unsurprisingly prominent in the market on his first start for Gary Moore at Newbury on New Year's Eve, but was upstaged by his seemingly unfancied stablemate Jupiter Du Gite.

That being said, Inneston still shaped with plenty of promise in finishing third – travelling well for a long way before tiring on what was his first competitive start in over a year.

With a few cobwebs blown away, he should prove hard to beat in Sussex.

Juniper gets the vote in the Vickers.Bet Independent Family Owned Bookmaker Handicap Chase.

The nine-year-old has won on her last three starts for Harry Whittington and was particularly impressive in the jumping department when scoring over fences at Wetherby last month.

While that form is open to question, with only one of her four rivals completing the track, it was the way she went about her business that impressed on what is not an easy jumping track.

The handicapper has slapped her with a 7lb rise, but that does not look insurmountable if she can get into a similar rhythm in front.

National Hunt action also comes from Southwell, where Strong Leader is difficult to oppose in the Follow @attheraces On Twitter Novices' Hurdle.

Olly Murphy's Cheltenham bumper runner-up is two from two since being sent over obstacles and had far too many guns for a subsequent winner in Etalon at Aintree on his latest outing.

Winning with a double penalty is never easy, but Strong Leader – who holds an entry in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham – looks capable of doing so before stepping in class.


FONTWELL: 1.05 Inneston, 1.40 Master Malcolm, 2.15 Hilltown, 2.50 Juniper, 3.25 Mullins Bay, 4.00 Art Decco, 4.35 Spitalfield.

NAAS: 12.57 Amirite, 1.32 Whatsnotoknow, 2.07 Downtherefordancin, 2.42 Bob Olinger, 3.17 Seabank Bistro, 3.52 Boola Boola, 4.27 Western Diego.

SEDGEFIELD: 12.50 Nell's Bells, 1.25 Tom Creen, 2.00 Matchless, 2.35 Onesoc, 3.10 Socks Off, 3.45 To The Limit, 4.20 RUSSIAN VIRTUE (NAP).

SOUTHWELL: 1.15 Get Prepared, 1.50 Calico, 2.25 Smiling Getaway, 3.00 Strong Leader, 3.35 Richhill, 4.10 Shallow River.

DOUBLE: Russian Virtue and Strong Leader.

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