The 2m handicap hurdle at Newbury on Saturday may not have been the strongest of 0-150s, only four carrying more than 10-12, but even in a muddling race there were several horses who look worth following when granted a stiffer test of stamina.
One of those is the fifth Dino Velvet, who had shaped well in the Fred Winter on his final start last season and who would have benefitted from a strong pace at Chepstow on his reappearance last month.
Dino Velvet looks the sort to do better this season, which may still play out, neither race so far much of a platform for him, but he threatened more at Newbury on Saturday (looming presence two out) before flattening out. Though there is half a chance the four-year-old is not ready for this trip just yet, he should be given another chance over 2½m, for all that he might be seen to best effect in a strongly-run 2m handicap.
This year’s renewal of the Gerry Feilden was an unsatisfactory race, due to the lack of pace, some clearly not suited by the relative test of speed or by their position when the tempo picked up. The ride on the winner High Bridge was well judged and his victory gives yet another boost for the form of Elgin's race at Ascot last month. However, there were several eye-catching performances in behind, not least the runner-up Charli Parcs who was easy to back ahead of his seasonal reappearance.
Charli Parcs won a newcomers race at Enghien and a juvenile event at Kempton (by eight lengths from Master Blueyes) in 2016/17, before finishing sixth in the Triumph. He shaped well at Newbury on Saturday, despite making a chance-ending mistake at the last after good progress to challenge from three out.
He looks ready to fulfil the promise of his British debut (easily best form from last term) and remains with potential, either over hurdles or fences, likely to remain on a competitive mark in handicap hurdles if kept over the smaller obstacles.
David’s Charm resumed winning ways in this competitive handicap, which promises to make for solid form, as those that came to the fore are all either progressive, unexposed, or in good form. The winner is of interest still, fully entitled to have a crack at a graded novice after a third win in four handicap starts, however the runner-up Meri Devie also looks one to follow.
Useful on the Flat in France, Meri Devie won a juvenile maiden at Leopardstown in 2016/17 and the four-year-old filly produced a career best last weekend. The hood was back on for handicap debut and she was not seen to best effect, staying on well from off the pace after being hampered three out but unable to reel in the progressive winner. Meri Devie is clearly on a fair mark and is likely to be competitive in similar events for the rest of the season.