Disappointing news out of Ireland late on Sunday with Willie Mullins confirming former Arkle winner Douvan would miss the season through injury. Last season’s champion novice chaser Altior has not seen the track so far this season and trainer Nicky Henderson suggests his Arkle winner may go to the Champion Chase without a prep run.
If Altior turns up fit and well on the day he will be very hard to beat, but at this stage he makes little appeal at 5/4 with BetVictor for the 2m Champion Chase. Douvan’s stablemate Min is 3/1 with Tingle Creek winner Politilogue 4/1 at BetVictor and 7/1 Bar.
Fakenham are optimistic of passing this morning’s 8am inspection with the ground currently described as soft. Aza Run (2.10) has been raised 6lbs for winning at Uttoxeter last month but the runner up has subsequently finished second off a 4lbs higher mark and the hope is that he can follow up around these tight turns.
Mortens Leam (2.40) ran his best race yet when runner up on his chase debut at Wetherby and a repeat would make him very hard to beat for local trainer Pam Sly although the selection does step up in trip this afternoon. It is possible that the selection was flattered by his proximity to Ami Debois at the Yorkshire track, but he is bred to appreciate this step up in trip.
Olly Murphy saddles Mullaghboy making his chase debut and it will be interesting to see if this recent winner over timber attracts market support.
I have been looking forward to seeing William Hunter (3.10) step up to 2m 4f for the first time having shaped with promise in two starts at the minimum trip so far this term. This represents a drop in class for Alan King’s runner who has hurdled well since switching his attentions to jumps.
Nicky Henderson’s No Hiding Place will have to settle better than he did at Huntingdon on his first start over hurdles and a bigger danger may be Rio Quinto who showed promise in two starts in points when trained in Ireland.
No problems expected at Catterick where there is a quality Beginners’ Chase over an extended three miles. Point winner Impulsive Star was progressive last term over hurdles and was a ready winner here over timber back in January. He must go close, but I thought Tomngerry (1.20) ran a terrific race on his return from an 18-month lay-off over timber last month and gets a narrow vote on his chase debut.
The selection is another winning point-to-pointer who has yet to win over 3m over hurdle, but shaped like a thorough stayer over timber and this looks an ideal starting point. Shades Of Midnight and Alzammaar have the chase experience, but they look vulnerable and I will disappointed if one of the chasing newcomers didn’t land this valuable prize.
West Of The Edge (1.50) had been prepared for the abandoned Borders National over fences by Dr Richard Newland but is 9lbs lower over hurdles and talented conditional Charlie Hammond is excellent value for his 7lbs claim. The selection ran well at Sedgefield over timber on his reappearance and he gets the each way vote.
Espoir De Teillee (2.20) cannot be opposed in the two-and-a-half mile novice hurdle despite his 7lbs penalty for last month’s facile C&D success. The selection cost £220,000 at Goffs Sales last year and is beginning to repay the promise he showed in his sole Irish point when coming down at the last with the race at his mercy.
Return Ticket (3.20) finished third over C&D on debut last month and can break his duck at the second time of asking in the Bumper for Malcom Jefferson who has saddled the winner of this corresponding race in the past.