I won a couple on him last summer when he was suited by this trip and decent ground, so hopefully they won’t get any more rain at Kempton and good to soft will be okay for him. He clearly hasn’t shown his best on his two starts this season, most recently over hurdles at Ascot, but he returns to fences off a fair mark – he is only 4lb higher than when winning at Southwell in May, and the placed horses have all won since – so hopefully he can spring back to form off what is a nice racing weight. However, he obviously does need to show a lot more than of late.
This is a great ride to pick up. I schooled him on Wednesday morning and he felt fresh and well. He does handle soft, but he prefers decent ground, so hopefully good to soft will be fine for him. He is a horse I obviously know really well from a couple of years ago – actually, the last time I rode him we beat Vautour in the Champion Chase at Punchestown – and he is a high-class performer on his day. He clearly didn’t run up to his best in the Old Roan on his reappearance in October and hasn’t been seen since but hopefully he will leave that form behind him here and, as he hasn’t won for a while, the conditions of this race suit him very well. I say he hasn’t won for a while but few, if any, of these can match the level of his third at Punchestown back in April and he sees out this 2m4f trip well enough, for all that he may be better at two miles. If he runs up to his best, then he is definitely the one to beat at these weights, for all it is a competitive and quality race.
I Shot The Sheriff
I was pretty confident of a bold show from him at Newbury last month – I said as much here beforehand – and all looked to be going to plan entering the straight there. But I wasn’t happy with him after jumping 3 out so, given his fragile history, I thought it was prudent to pull him up straight away. To be honest, I thought he had gone wrong or broken down there, but thankfully the issue was just with one of his shoes, which clearly was what was troubling him there. So that was a relief. He joined us from Tony Martin’s prior to that Newbury run and we really liked what we saw of him at home before then, so hopefully he can finish the race here and show us what we have on our hands. From his Irish form, it looks like this 2m5f trip with a bit of cut is ideal, and I think his mark is fair. He certainly travelled like a fairly decent horse at Newbury. I worked and schooled him earlier in the week, and he comes into this competitive handicap in good form. Hopeful, if not confident, would be my summary.
I rode him three times a few years ago, winning on him at Wincanton. He doesn’t look to have run that well since coming back from his summer break, though his Ascot run two starts ago wasn’t that bad. But at least he has come down very quickly in the weights in a short spell, being dropped 12lb, and is now 6lb lower than when an excellent second in the Summer Hurdle at Market Rasen in July. He is definitely handicapped to go close if coming back to that sort of form.
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