Clearly, he has an awful lot to find with most of these and we look to be playing for places at best. But he comes here in good form and I do think the better ground will see him step forward. However, realistically, his mark of 130 tells you that winning looks to be off the agenda in this company.
Dinaria Des Obeaux
I think Triumph Hurdle fourth Ex Patriot is probably the horse to beat in this Grade 2 – though Willie’s Orion D’Aubrelle is very interesting on his debut for the yard – but Dinaria Des Obeaux is obviously closely matched with him. We were awarded the race here in February when Ex Patriot hampered us on the run-in and if my filly returns to that kind of form then she has chances. But whereas Ex Patriot improved to finish fourth in the Triumph, my filly disappointed in the race. And, ideally, she would want softer ground than she is likely to get here. But she was too keen at Cheltenham and the ground was too quick, so I would expect a better run from her here, especially if we get a drop of rain in the next 24 hours.
He is a horse who will be better in time and over a fence, but he showed a lot of guts when winning for me over 2m4f at Punchestown in February. He obviously doesn’t have many miles on the clock and the step up to 2m6f shouldn’t be a problem, but a mark of 135 is probably only fair on what he has achieved so far and he is another who ideally would want it softer. But he clearly is a horse with plenty of improvement in him.
Gordon’s Sutton Place is probably the one to beat but if he doesn’t win I hope the stable have the winner in Tombstone. He was very disappointing when favourite in the Coral Cup last time – I wasn’t as sweet on him as many were going into that handicap but he obviously ran no sort of race there – but he is a lot better than that and he was very impressive when earlier beating Jezki at Gowran, even if the runner-up is not the horse he was. Perhaps a return to a smaller field will help him – he didn’t enjoy the experience at Cheltenham and didn’t jump or travel at all – and we haven’t lost our faith in him just yet. I sat on him at Gordon’s recently and he seemed fresh and well. We all have Sutton Place to beat, but I would like to think that I have a fair shot.
I didn’t have an easy choice picking from our 14 in the race! But my pin landed on General Principle as he comes into the race in great form, is improving and has a nice racing weight off 10st 5lb. Clearly, this will be a lot different test to the small-field novice chases he has been winning but I think a mark of 140 is fair. He is going into the unknown in this 30-runner handicap and up to 3m5f for the first time but I hope he is up to it. He has had plenty of experience this season and novices seem to go well in this race.
It is clearly a wide-open race and last year’s winner Rogue Angel gave me a great ride from the front for a long way in the Grand National before emptying. If that race hasn’t left his mark, then I certainly wouldn’t rule him out. But I could have chosen most, if not all, of our 14 as they all have claims of sorts, such as Tiger Roll and Lord Scoundrel. I think the winner could come from the bottom of the weights, though.
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