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Aintree '99: Lord to bring off the master plan; TOPSPEED.

LORD LAMB looks to have been laid out for the Barton & Guestier Top Novices' Hurdle (2.00) at Aintree today.

The Mary Reveley-trained seven-year-old, an excellent second to the smart mudlark Major Sponsor at Newcastle in January, will be better suited by these quicker conditions-a view supported by his times on the Flat. He comes here ready to peak after a pipe-opener on the Flat at Doncaster.

Escartefigue has the speed to repeat last year's victory in the Martell Cup Chase (2.35), which came in a very smart time. He is top-rated on the strength of a two-length second to Florida Pearl at Leopardstown-a race run 11sec quicker than a hunter chase won by the smart Elegant Lord.

Of his rivals, Cheltenham winner Majadou looks the quickest, if his stamina lasts out over this longer trip.

The Arkle first and second, Flagship Uberalles and Tresor de Mai, renew rivalry in the Sandeman Maghull Novices' Chase (3.10). That was only a fair renewal on the clock, however, and Dawn Leader, who skipped the Festival, can win if reproducing his very fast time at Sandown in February over a longer trip. Clifton Beat should not be overlooked either.

Hors La Loi clocked a very smart time when winning the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham and can follow up in the Glenlivet Anniversary Novices' Hurdle (4.20). Martin Pipe's four-year-old was receiving the generous weight-for-age allowance at the Festival and ran out an easy winner, but, with a 4lb penalty against his own age group, he has a stiffer task. He could be run close by Triumph Hurdle flop Simply Gifted.

Scrahan Cross is unexposed yet still best in at the figures for the Chivas Regal Novices' Handicap Chase (4.50). But he needs holding up until the last minute and bets should be kept small.

Merry Masquerade could complete a double for Reveley in the Barton & Guestier Handicap Hurdle (5.20) after a fast-time win at Newcastle, while Elegant Lord is top-rated for the Martell Fox Hunters' Chase (3.45).

SELECTIONS: 2.00 Lord Lamb (nap), 2.35 Escartefigue, 3.10 Dawn Leader, 3.45 Elegant Lord, 4.20 Hors La Loi, 4.50 Scrahan Cross, 5.20 Merry Masquerade.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Author:Willoughby, James
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Apr 8, 1999
Words:370
Previous Article:Aintree '99: Joe Mac's signs are all positive; POSTMARK.
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