The big betting race today is the Welsh Grand National from Chepstow with Nicky Henderson’s recent Newcastle winner Beware The Bear the 8/1 market leader at BetVictor. He must go close but my two against the field are Wild West Wind (12/1 with BetVictor) and Mysteree (2.50) with marginal preference for the latter who is making his seasonal reappearance for Michael Scudamore.
The selection (also 12/1 at BetVictor) has a great record when fresh and this is the 9-year-olds first start since finishing second to Chase The Spud in the Midlands National at Uttoxeter back in the spring. The latter reopposes this afternoon but is 13lbs worse off with Mysteree and this slightly shorter trip ought to suit Michael Scudamore’s charge who is an each way recommendation.
On decent ground, The Unit would have every chance of reversing Newton Abbot form with Shantou Rock (1.20) but there is rain forecast overnight at Kempton and that might suit Dan Skelton’s charge more than the Alan King-trained runner.
The Unit was beaten just two lengths last time behind two potentially top class novices and a flat right-handed track clearly suits but he is not the same horse on soft ground.
Midnight Tune (1.55) has been raised 5lbs for winning at Wincanton last time and she is taken to follow up in the mares’ handicap hurdle stepped back up to three miles for Anthony Honeyball. The third horse at Wincanton (Petticoat Tails) won at Wetherby yesterday and she can take this step up in class in her stride.
Politilogue (2.30) would be receiving 2lbs from Special Tiara if this were a handicap but the selection is improving at a rate of knots and is taken to lower the colours of last season’s Champion Chaser. The selection did of course beat Fox Norton to land the Grade 1 Tingle Creek at Sandown last time and he should get a good lead into the race from the front-running Special Tiara.
The 3m Handicap Chase at this meeting is a particular favourite of mine and the hope is that Brandon Hill (3.05) can go one better than when runner up at Ascot on his reappearance and first start for Tom George. The selection was a winning point-to-pointer in his native Ireland and the handicapper has left him on the same mark as when second to Walk In The Mill who gave the form a boost when third in a better race at Ascot on Saturday from a 7lbs higher mark.
I will be taking a close look at the market for the 2m Handicap Hurdle where Chatez (3.40) gets the vote for Alan King despite the fact that he hasn’t jumped a flight of hurdles in public for 1056 days. The selection ran a great race when a staying on second at Leicester over a mile on the flat back in November and that effort should have blown the cobwebs away.
The selection was actually tailed off in this corresponding race three years ago when a well backed favourite and he is 8lbs lower in the weights this afternoon.
At Wetherby, Three Ways (1.00) will be staying on while others have had enough in the 3m Novice Chase and if his fencing improves, he could make up into a very decent staying handicap chaser for Gavin Sheehan and Jamie Snowden.
Duke Of Navan (2.05) only got as far as the second at Newbury last time in a race that is not working out particularly well, but I thought the selection ran a cracking race at Aintree on his reappearance and gets the vote in the Castleford Chase over the minimum trip.
Over in Ireland and it is difficult to oppose Mengli Khan and Min in the Grade 1 contests and I am more interested in the chase debut of Bunk Off Early (12.40) in the Beginners Chase at Leopardstown.