Apple Of Our Eye
He has to bounce back from a poor run at Doncaster last time but that was back in November, so hopefully he is fresh and well here and ready to return to the form of his placed efforts in the autumn off a 1lb higher mark than this. Good ground suits him well.
He clearly has a lot to find with the form horses but he is not without a chance. He won three times on the Flat in France, and was second in a good race at Chantilly, and he looks to have shaped with a fair bit of promise when fourth to the very smart William Henry at Newbury in December. The bare form of that race is obviously some way detached from what is needed here in this Grade 2, and it could be that he only has place claims at best, but he clearly is unexposed over hurdles and we know he was very decent on the level.
This race has been very kind to me. I have won it three times in the last seven years, including Nacarat off 11st 8lb in 2012, and I give Theatre Guide a good chance of following up his win in this race last year. I think he is good enough to win a Graded race and, while no contests of this nature are easy to win, I have to admit that I have seen more competitive 100k handicaps. But that is good news for those of us that are in it, and Theatre Guide absolutely bolted up by 10 lengths for me last year, the only downside of that win meaning he has to race off a 14lb higher mark here. To be fair, he has won in the meantime too, and the merit of his nose defeat of Perfect Candidate in first-time blinkers at Cheltenham in December has been franked since, with the runner-up winning well for me at Exeter earlier this month. Theatre Guide didn’t run up to his best in the Welsh National last time but that’s an extreme test – and he ran below-par on his only other start over that 3m5f trip – and 3m round here, a course he likes, will suit him much better. It’s just a question of whether the handicapper has got hold of him now, but like I said I think he is a Graded horse and I give him a decent chance off 11st 11lb. You have to respect a few in here but the one I fear most is probably Viva Steve, a horse who I also know very well. He didn’t look to stay 3m5f at Warwick last time – if anything he travelled too well into the race, and he also made mistakes – but he won well at Ayr in November and he also ran a blinder when second to The Last Samuri over course and distance last season. I give him a big chance, too.
I don’t know much about him to be honest, so I am as much in the dark as you. But Trevor Hemmings always buys a good type of horse and I see he is a Scorpion half-brother to a couple of point scorers and Henry has had a few bumper winners this season as well.
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