He progressed steadily in novice hurdles last season and ended the campaign with an excellent third in a competitive 2m4f Sandown handicap hurdle. I think the cut in the ground will suit on his chasing debut and he has been going, and schooling, well at home in preparation for this. He has had his problems in the past but he is a horse with talent and the ability to progress, and hopefully that will be over fences. He has been racing over 2m4f but hopefully the step down to 2m – well actually it is more like 1m7f – will be okay on this ground.
This is quite clearly a tough ask for her against much higher-rated opposition, but the race will tell us a lot. She won first time out last season and kept on progressing, winning four on the bounce – it was gutting to miss Cheltenham at the last minute with her – and ended off the season with a decent fifth at Fairyhouse in April. She clearly needs to improve to enter into the reckoning here but we think the potential is there and the step up to 3m really promises to suit, too. She could surprise some of these, but at the very least we will find out where we are at with her.
He is very much a public horse, so everyone knows all about him. Clearly, he is 11 going on 12 now, but you wouldn’t know that from his homework. I sat on him last month and he felt great, and everything I have heard from the stable since has been positive. His Betfair Chase and Ascot wins tell you he was as good as ever last season – he was devastatingly good when beating Coneygree at Haydock – and I guess it’s just a matter of how straight it is. To that end, I think Colin has put more work into him that he did last year when third in this race – and don’t forget he won it first time out the year before – and it helps that the Grade 1 penalty is only 6lb this year, and not 10lb like it was last season. The penalty change is a massive help. The ground sounds like it could be ideal for him, so everything is in his place for a big run. It won’t be the end of the world if he is beaten here – this is a very good renewal and we are giving 6lb to the likes of Coneygree, remember – but hopefully I will be smiling come around 3.25pm. I love this horse, and I can’t wait to get back on him.
He improved as last season went on and he was pretty impressive when winning by 5 lengths for me at Chepstow in April. The handicapper has obviously had his say and put him up 7lb but that was deserved I suppose, and the runner-up has won a couple over fences since. He does have form in testing conditions but it will probably be in his favour if we don’t get any more rain, and I’d like to think that he will give a good account of himself here. He has been going well at home.
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