Eclipster: Rouge Vif looks primed for the Premier Kelso Novices Hurdle

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Saturday 2nd March – Kelso, 3:15pm, 2m 2f (2m 2f 25y) Edinburgh Gin Premier Kelso Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2) (Class 1) (4yo+)

The Premier Kelso Novices’ Hurdle, which is run over 2 miles 2 furlongs, was established in 1990 as a Class B (Class 2) race and was awarded Grade 2 status in 2003. Notable horses who have won the race since 2003 include the 2009 winner Knockara Beau who went on to win the Cleeve Hurdle at The Cheltenham Festival in 2014.

The last 11 renewals have seen the favourite or joint favourite winning on just four occasions but horses in the top three in the betting have won on a nine occasions so a look at the top end of the market is recommended.

Since the race achieved Grade 2 status in 2003 the fourteen renewals to date have been won by horses aged between five and seven years old on 12 occasions.

A recent run before the race is an important factor with nine of the last 11 winners having had their previous run within 36 days of the race. Seven of the last 11 winners of the race also won on their previous start.

Although the event is for novices, previous hurdling form is an advantage, as 10 of the previous 11 winners had run at least three times and eight of the winners of the event had also won at least twice over hurdles.

Horses who have previously run at Kelso are also worth considering with six of the last 11 winners having run at least once at the course previously. Ten of the last 11 winners had also previously run over distances between 2 miles and 2 miles 3 furlongs and nine of the 11 had also won at least once over the same distances.

An Official Rating of 120 of higher has been required to win the race in nine of the last 11 renewals.

Current season’s form is also an important consideration with nine of the last 11 winners running at least three times earlier in the season and 10 of the winners had won at least once earlier in the season.

Rouge Vif who has won over 2 miles and 2 miles ½ furlong has improved since being fitted with a hood. The five year old bay gelding won a Maiden event at Southwell in December and a Class 4 Novice event at Newcastle in January and produced a really good effort when finishing second to Mister Fisher, by two and three quarter lengths, conceding 5lbs in a Class 2 Novice race at Kempton on Boxing Day. The way he rallied when winning at Newcastle last time suggests that he will appreciate the step up in trip and his win at Southwell was in Good to Soft ground which he is likely to race on at Kelso on Saturday.

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