He was taken out of Aintree because of the soft ground, and it looks like our patience has been rewarded here with this drier spell. As I said last week, I can’t get my head around how badly he ran in the Albert Bartlett. He just never turned up, and I was never really happy with him at any stage. I know he had previously won the Challow in testing ground, but I do think a decent surface shows him in a better light. And you could easily argue that his third to On The Blind on good to soft here in November, when he was giving the winner 5lb, was his best effort yet. The step down to this trip isn’t an issue but he does carry an 8lb penalty for that Grade 1 win at Newbury and the opposition looks strong. But I am hopeful he can bounce back to form on a track where he has run some of his better races; he is the class horse of the race, as it stands.
He was given a break after finishing a fair third at Haydock in December – like a lot of Tom’s horses, he has been waiting for this better ground – and his record suggests he goes well after an absence, so that’s another positive. The handicapper has dropped him 2lb too, so he is now 3lb lower than when third over 2m5f on good ground here in October. I think he has a real each-way chance off this mark.
He shaped well on his first start for us when fourth to Baden in the Grand Military Gold Cup at Sandown last month. That was on soft, but he ran a couple of good races on quicker ground in Ireland, so the drying conditions won’t be a problem. The handicapper has given him a real chance too, dropping him to a mark of just 122, so hopefully he is set to run really well. There is a possibility he is better going right-handed but we couldn’t turn down this race.
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