The Grade 2 Persian War Novices’ Hurdle over an extended 2m 3f at Chepstow headlines the official start of the core jumps season this Friday (2:45). Many top National Hunt horses have won this en route to bigger and better things.
Each of the last five Persian War winners landed the spoils on their reappearance. Paul Nicholls and Philip Hobbs are the trainers to follow here. Between them, they have farmed the race with 13 wins. Seven of the last 14 Persian War winners came from the former’s Ditcheat stables.
Horses aged four, five or six have the best record in the Persian War in recent times. Although the younger end of the bracket hasn’t been successful since 2012, three of the eight declared runners this year get a handy 2lb weight for age from their elders.
Why Paso Doble is favourite in the Persian War betting
Nicholls relies on Paso Doble for a record-extending ninth win in the race. Lightly-raced as a juvenile last term, he brings smart Flat form to the table as well when trained in Ireland by Jim Bolger. Paso Doble, a four-year-old Dawn Approach gelding, beat subsequent Irish Lincolnshire and Roscommon Listed winner Layfayette in a 1m 2f Fairyhouse handicap last October.
The runner-up has clearly improved since, and had dual Group 3 scorer Maker Of Kings in-behind when landing that big Premier Handicap at the Curragh. It is a very useful looking piece of form that Paso Doble has under his belt. Nicholls pitched him straight in at this level for his hurdles debut in the Adonis at Kempton in February.
Paso Doble really caught the eye, staying on into third behind Tritonic that day. The winner was far from disgraced when fifth in the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. As Paso Doble also comfortably landed his last start also at Kempton before a summer break, everything bodes well. Nicholls saddled Wonderful Charm and Silviniaco Conti to success in the Persian War as four-year-olds, so best odds of 3/1 with Bet365 look justified.
Hobbs duo bound to attract support for Persian War Novices’ Hurdle
The last of Hobbs’ five wins in the race came two years ago with Thyme Hill. He saddles Camprond and Luttrell Lad, who both come to Chepstow off a prep run. The former is owned by JP McManus and has been hugely consistent since coming over from France. Camprond, a five-year-old son of Lope De Vega, placed in the Grade 3 Swinton Handicap Hurdle at Haydock back in May.
He has often shaped as though he would get further than 2m, so steps up in trip here. Camprond has powerful connections, so commands respect. Although he has fully earned an official rating of 134, he may be a little on the exposed side for the Persian War after eight hurdles starts. Camprond is 6/1 with Unibet to give McManus a first-ever winner in this race with Aidan Coleman now taking the ride.
Luttrell Lad, meanwhile, won two of his bumper starts and ran a fine fourth at this level in the Aintree Grand National meeting National Hunt Flat Race. It didn’t pay to race in the rear on Merseyside, but the five-year-old by Beat Hollow made some steady headway from three out. He crossed the line less than 10 lengths behind the winner, Knappers Hill, that day too.
Off the back of that promising run, Luttrell Lad landed odds of 1/4 on his hurdles debut at Worcester last month. He could do no more than beat the opposition in front of him. Luttrell Lad only needed shaking up on the run-in for a five-length success. The Persian War Novices’ Hurdle demands more, but he’s still open to plenty of further progress. Luttrell Lad is 15/2 with Bet365 to follow-up here now back up in class.
Henderson and Jonjo seeking first Persian War win
Believe it or not, neither Nicky Henderson nor Jonjo O’Neill have won the Persian War Novices’ Hurdle in their illustrious training careers. Seven Barrows has First Street engaged this year after consecutive wins over obstacles. Officially the best four-year-old in the race, this Golden Horn gelding, beat some subsequent winners on his hurdles bow at Bangor.
Henderson isn’t the biggest fan of Chepstow and often prefers to race his horses elsewhere. First Street didn’t beat much when following-up at Warwick when upped in trip. However, the way he quickened up and ran on after the last bodes well. An in-form young horse like First Street, a top-price 5/1 with Betfred, will have plenty of support as he seeks his hat-trick.
The O’Neill yard at Jackdaws Castle has ratings topper Coeur Serein representing them. Now out for a four-timer, this seven-year-old is out of handicaps and up in class. According to the assessor, Coeur Serein has improved 23lbs since starting his winning sequence at Warwick. He defied a 7lb rise in his rating and followed-up over 3m at Newbury.
That form looks strong as the race has thrown up all sorts of subsequent winners. An additional 12lb hike in the weights couldn’t stop Coeur Serein from hitting his hat-trick at Huntingdon. O’Neill campaigned the Fame And Glory gelding superbly in the spring, but he is zero from five over trips sharper than 2m 5f. There are reasons for opposing Coeur Serein even at a top price of 11/2 with William Hill here.
No Hidden Heroics from Skelton, Snowden Up For Parol
Perhaps the trickiest horse to assess in the Persian War Novices’ Hurdle this year is Dan Skelton debutant Hidden Heroics. A four-year-old Coastal Path gelding, he won a Fairyhouse Point under Jamie Codd when in the care of Denis Murphy back in April. It is difficult to know the value of that form. New trainer Skelton pitches Hidden Heroics straight in at this level, so connections must think a lot of him. William Hill go best odds of 14/1 about his chances here.
Jamie Snowden has had runners in the Persian War in each of the last three seasons with two of those hitting the frame. Up For Parol flies the flag for his stable this season and returns after ending last term on a high. A five-year-old by Flemensfirth, he won an Irish Point for Matthew O’Connor and is two from three since joining Snowden.
Up For Parol scoring at Wetherby on his second start for his current yard is good form, because a few subsequent winners came out of it. He followed-up on that effort at Ffos Las. The concern with Up For Parol is he has needed a run to get his head in front. Coming here on reappearance might find him out fitness-wise. Up For Parol is 9/1 with Bet365 for a successful return to action.
The rank outsider in the Persian War Novices’ Hurdle is Tile Tapper. Trained by Chris Honour, this seven-year-old remains a maiden over obstacles. However, he has bits and pieces of form that give some small hope of outrunning his odds. Tile Tapper, a son of Malinas, ran third to Metier in the Grade 1 Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle at Sandown last winter. He is 16/1 with Parimatch to cause an upset.
Persian War Novices’ Hurdle 2021 Shortlist and Tips
- Paso Doble *****
- First Street ****
- Luttrell Lad ****