He was a smart bumper horse last year and we had pretty high hopes for him over hurdles this season. It hasn’t gone entirely to plan with a couple of disappointments along the way but he ran a really good race when second to a decent horse at Aintree in November and we have given him a break since that below-par run at Newcastle in December. If he comes back to that Aintree form, then hopefully he will have winning claims in this – this race is now down to just four runners, after all – and I think the step down in trip will suit him, too.
Bells ‘N’ Banjos
He has been off since October but I wouldn’t worry too much about that, as we have been waiting for decent ground for him and we have had one eye on this valuable staying prize for a while. And he goes well when fresh. He has won on soft, but I hope it stays more good to soft, as I think he is a better horse on better ground. He certainly shaped as if worth another try at this trip – he didn’t run badly at all in the 4-miler at Cheltenham when he was a big outsider – at Cheltenham last time and I think he is probably fairly handicapped off a mark of 132, too.
He won his bumper here on good to soft a few years ago and he comes here in good form, having run well when second at Southwell following a switch to hurdles last time. The handicapper has eased him 1lb up the weights for that but hopefully that will be neither here nor there and, if we do get rain on Saturday, then he has winning form on soft, too. It looks a good ride to pick up, and hopefully the first-time cheekpieces will help him, too.
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