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Horse Racing Tips: Rhys Williams’ NAP is an unbeaten juvenile hurdler at Aintree

More superior than winning margin in all three victories

Aintree 14:20: Petit Tonnerre 1pt e/w 10/1

Pied Piper and Brazil are the only two at single-figure prices for this Grade 1 juvenile hurdle. Pied Piper may be the classier of the pair but I thought it was a bit concerning that he went from travelling very strongly to not being able to get past Fil Dor in the Triumph and it might be that the headgear was worn on the flat with good reason.

Brazil did well to beat Gaelic Warrior in the Fred Winter having been badly hampered at the second and carried out to the right at 2 out. Unlike Pied Piper he finds plenty for pressure but he was favourably positioned in a prominent spot in the Fred Winter. He might be able to gain a tactical edge again today but it’s the owner’s other runner who appeals at the prices.

Petit Tonnerre started his career in France and had a prep run on the flat before making his hurdling debut at Dieppe. He was always travelling well just in behind the leaders and went clear with one rival after 2 out. He eased upsides at the last and went away to win with far more in hand than the winning margin (which looked more like 2 1/2 lengths than 1 1/2 ).

He built on that on his second start over hurdles at Compiegne beating a very good field with ease. Held up in last from the off, he was still there turning the final bend in a tightly grouped field. Angled towards the outside rail approaching 2 out, he made headway to be around two lengths down jumping that. He was angled back towards the inside to find room with a wall of horses in front of him and he eased Ironique out of the way to take a gap on the run to the last.

While everything else was under pressure, Petit Tonnerre cruised to the front and despite getting in a bit close to the last and his jockey dropping the whip on the run in, he drew clear to win by three lengths.

The runner up, Heart Wood, was beaten by the third, Mourinho Has, in a handicap at Auteuil next time and won on his first start of this year in a Listed handicap at the same track. Mourinho Has finished fifth in a Grade 1 after winning that handicap, two places behind Ain’t Got Wings who finished fifth at Compiegne.

Petit Tonnerre was bought by JP McManus after that victory and made a winning start for Jonjo O’Neill at Market Rasen. Despite not jumping too fluently at times, it looked a case of how far early in the home straight. Jonjo Jnr was desperately trying to not win by too far between the last two but a bad mistake at the last meant he had to shake him up on the run in and he got the better of Presuming Ed by 2 1/2 lengths.



Trainer: Jonjo O’Neill
Jockey: Jonjo O’Neill Jr.
Age: 4
Weight: 11st 0lbs

The manner in which he’s travelled in all three starts over hurdles has been one of a very classy horse and he looks capable of making further improvement unlike some of these who looked to have already shown everything they’ve got. I think the return to a left-handed track will suit him as he went out to the left on a few occasions at Market Rasen and the likely good pace should suit.

There is still a concern over his jumping as he made a few sloppy mistakes at Compiegne and did the same at Market Rasen and he may not have room to repeat that in this company.

Despite that worry I think he should be closer to the front pair in the market and any 8/1 or bigger appeals.

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