This will be the first time I have sat on him but I think he has chances off his light weight. Soft ground seems to suit him well enough – in fact he looks to handle good and soft ground alike – and he has won over this trip, and the way he finished over 2m3f at Ascot last time suggests that the step back up in distance will suit him. He has been dropped 1lb for Ascot, too, and every little helps.
He clearly has his work well and truly cut out if the big guns like Bristol De Mai bring their A-game to the table, and we do carry a 4lb penalty as well, but you know what you are likely to get from Perfect Candidate around here. Namely, a very bold show. Okay, he was a 50/1 chance and outclassed when pulled up in this race last season and comes here after a lack-lustre run in the Veterans’ race at Sandown last time but he had earlier won off a mark of 152 here and options are limited for a horse now rated 156. He is a very good horse on his day, and this is his track. I rode him in blinkers at home on Tuesday morning and they had an immediate impact, so he wears them for the first time in a race here. They will obviously need to make a big difference on the track, though.
Aye Aye Charlie
He has run some good races in defeat at Aintree and around here, most recently behind Tikkanbar on New Year’s Day, and I don’t think we have seen the best of him yet. But I have to admit that his winning chances aren’t obvious in what looks a strong Grade 2 with plenty of depth. It wouldn’t surprise me if he ran better than the betting is probably going to suggest, though, and a mark of 136 tells you he is a promising horse in his own right.
She was very impressive when beating Wholestone first time out at Wetherby and, although she has run very creditably since, I don’t think she has performed to that level in her two subsequent starts. Again, there was clearly no disgrace in those defeats against Beer Goggles at Newbury and behind Wholestone here last time, but I would like to think that she is better than that. I don’t like to make excuses when our horses get beaten, and Wholestone was very impressive last time, but I think there are plenty of reasons to think it could be a totally different ball game on Saturday. She has to carry a 6lb penalty again for that Wetherby win, which makes life tough, but I wouldn’t be underestimating her, even in a field this deep. She comes here in great form at home and I can’t wait to ride her.
I rode him when he finished in midfield in the Aintree bumper last April and am delighted to see the progress he has made over hurdles, making it two from three with a smooth win over an in-form rival at Kelso earlier this month. I think a mark of 134 is probably fair enough on what he did at Kelso, the ground shouldn’t be a problem and he is clearly lightly-raced, so there are plenty of reasons to be very hopeful of a big run.
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