Minella Rocco the £260,000 purchase from Brightwells makes his chase debut at Haydock Park tomorrow.
Trained by Jonjo O'Neill and owned by JP Mcmanus and now ridden by retained pilot Barry Geraghty, the stunning son of Shirocco was favourite for the Grade 3 Betfair Fixed Brush handicap hurdle on Saturday but the decision has been made to head here instead. On paper an easier assignment ??
Last season Minella Rocco started off at Kempton where he was up against West Wizard of Nicky Henderson's, a horse with a tall reputation. Despite this he was sent off a well backed second favourite and could be called the winner a long way from home seeing off the challenge and scoring by 6L.
Next time out he was to head to Newbury, where it was apparent the potential of that first win had not gone unnoticed. There he started at 2/5 Fav and never came out of second gear, sauntering up the Newbury home straight with Royal Vacation ( a winner himself first time out this season) a further 7 lengths behind.
Minella Rocco was then to head to Aintree where he was a late non runner but at the time his trainer reported to the sporting life:
"Minella Rocco is a big, nice, chasing-type of horse. He is a horse I am looking forward to really. They are the horses you look for each year to wing you along to the next season. They are the dream.
"He was very good at Newbury, it was not the strongest of races but you can only beat what is in front of you."
He looks like being one of the leading lights of the Mcamanus Geraghty association.
Up agaisnt him is Silsol, trained by the champion trainer Paul Nicholls and ridden on this occasion by Sam Twiston-Davies. Silsol is a 158 rated hurdler who won last seasons Welsh Champion hurdle at Ffos Las, before reappearing this season with a determined win at Carlisle in a trappy little novice chase. There he was all out to repel Maximiser, but that run will no doubt have done him the world of good and he will be no push over.
An intruiging little race to get the weekend racing going...