He needs to bounce back from two disappointing runs but we have not lost the faith yet. He may have had enough for the season when going off favourite, and being pulled up, at Aintree last April but we thought he would run a big race on his reappearance at Newbury, as he had been going really well at home. In fact, I think I said at the time that he is one of our better workhorses in the yard. But he failed to pick up in the straight, and perhaps he simply needed the run a lot more than we thought. On the plus side, he has been dropped 3lb and I still think he is capable of winning handicaps off this current mark, even if the handicapper did hit him pretty hard for what was a very impressive performance at Newbury last season, the form of which has worked out pretty well. And the new handicap rules have really worked in our favour here. I think a month or so ago the BHA brought in a rule that you can run in a handicap if you are within 2lb of the band, so as he is now rated 131, he can run in this 0-130. That’s a big help.
This is a horse we have always loved since we got him in the summer. He showed plenty of ability in the pointing field, putting a couple of falls behind him when winning last year, and I was delighted by how he shaped, and travelled, when second on what was pretty testing ground at Haydock in November. The winner may have disappointed slightly in his next bumper but we pulled 12 lengths clear of the third, Cadeyrn, and that one came out and won a good race at Chepstow on Boxing Day. He had easier options at Chepstow and Doncaster in the next couple of days but it is a measure of how highly we rate him that he takes his chance here. Of course, it will be very tough against the likes of Capitaine and Finian’s Oscar in a Grade 1 on his hurdling debut but we will at least see what we have. The more rain the better for him.
I have won on him a couple of times over this sort of trip and on decent ground, but we had our finest moment when second to Many Clouds in the 2015 Grand National. He didn’t run his race in last year’s race at Aintree and has struggled since too – though he did finish a fair third here over course and distance in November – including with his jumping when falling at the first last time. He is weighted to go well here off a mark of 147 – that is only 1lb higher than when winning a veterans’ chase at Doncaster last February – and has each-way chances in a highly-competitive race, as you’d expect for the 100k prize money. The less rain in the next 24 hours the better for him.
I am actually two from two on this horse. He is a decent 2m handicap hurdler on his day and it looks like he ran a lot better when he was seventh at Kempton over Christmas. The handicapper has dropped him another 2lb, which always helps, and he is back down to a winning mark. He seems to act on any ground, too, so I think he probably has a fair each-way shout. I also see he is wearing blinkers for the first time, too, and hopefully that will help him as well.
Find 32Red’s latest racing odds here – we offer price boosts on every UK and Irish racing event, as well as enhanced multiples and jockey specials. If you’re still up for a flutter, be sure to check out our award-winning casino too!