Past Winners » First Avenue


I am also getting First Avenue on side at 22/1. His three runs over hurdles this season have been just about the best three of his hurdling career, and conditions have come very much in his favour now.

He improved on the flat last summer, particularly on soft ground, once getting to within a neck of the talented soft-ground horse Aiken at Epsom in April (the winner, who won off 91 there, ended the season rated 112), and he has carried that progression back to hurdling this winter. He was beaten just five lengths by Get Me Out Of Here, and even less by Brampour, off disadvantageous terms in a conditions hurdle at Kempton in October, and he ran a cracker over today’s course and distance on soft ground on his next run.

Really well backed just before the off, he was held up by Nathan Adams but made smooth progress early in the home straight to come right through the field, and he probably would have won had he not fallen at the final flight. On his next run he finished fifth in the Ladbroke at Ascot when perhaps he was given a bit too much to do, and that was a much more classy race than today’s – the top weight was rated 155 in the Ladbroke whereas the top-weight today is rated just 141.

Laura Mongan’s gelding has been a little below par in two subsequent runs on the all-weather at Kempton, but the return to hurdling and soft ground should see him in a different light. But for that fall at Sandown he would have posted a career-best performance, and that bodes well for today’s race over course and distance and on similar ground. Laura Mongan’s horses are in good form, and Nathan Adams, who injured himself in that fall, is back on board today and his 10lb claim will be handy in the conditions.

He is best-priced 25/1, but best to back him at 22/1 with one of the firms who are paying five places.