Chepstow are optimistic they will beat the elements and be able to run today’s rearranged Welsh Grand National this afternoon although conditions are sure to be extremely testing.
Having put up Mysteree (2.05) for the original contest over Christmas I see no reason to desert Michael Scudamore’s 10-year-old although the 12/1 available at the time has gone and the selection is now just 8/1 at BetVictor. Robbie Dunne takes the ride on a horse with an outstanding record first time out and I would be disappointed if he doesn’t go very close on his belated seasonal reappearance.
Pure Vision looks like making up into a better chaser than hurdler having scored at Ffos Las from a 7lbs lower mark last time for the inform Anthony Honeyball. The further he went the better he looked last time and today’s additional quarter of a mile should be well within his compass.
That said the same sentiments could be said about the mare Socksy (1.00) who was a good winner on her first start over the larger obstacles at Ayr (2m 4f) and she looks ready for a step back up to three miles.
Nicky Henderson has We Have a Dream (1.35) in the Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown but the trainer has advised that his first choice engagement is the Grade 1 Finale Hurdle and the recent Doncaster winner can take the step up in grade in his stride.
At Sandown, Midnight Jazz is fitted with cheek-pieces for the first time in her bid to go one better than last year when she finished runner up in the listed Mares’ Hurdle. The vote, however, goes to Dusky Legend (12.45) who has run well over fences so far this season and was not beaten at the time when coming down two out at Newbury last month.
The selection is not the biggest horse in training and she might appreciate reverting to timber although I do think she can win over fences going forward – albeit on better ground.
The Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle is a sub-standard affair with Nicky Henderson’s Claimantakanforgan a significant non-runner on account of the forecast heavy ground. Western Ryder is BetVictor’s 6/4 favourite having given weight and a beating to his rivals at Cheltenham last month, but marginal preference is for the unbeaten Kalashnikov (2.25) who has won a Bumper and two hurdles for the yard of Amy Murphy.
The selection will get further in time and has the scope to make up into a top-class chaser but he will appreciate this stiff two miles under testing conditions. The selection is 2/1 at BetVictor and gets the narrow vote.
The form of the Ian Williams’ yard is a concern for followers of Gas Line Boy (3.00) but the selection did us a favour at Aintree before Christmas and a 6lbs rise is fair given he met interference out in the country and still came home nearly five lengths clear of his field. The selection is 5/1 at BetVictor and I will be disappointed if he didn’t reward each way support.
Jonjo O’Neill take off a valuable 7lbs from the back of Our Merlin (3.35) who is 23lbs higher than when scoring at Taunton last time. That success was the selection’s third facile win on the spin and the hope is that he can take today’s rise in grade in his stride.
At Wincanton, the mare Antartica De Thaix must go close in the valuable handicap chase but first time out might be the time to catch Uhlan Bute (2.40) for Venetia Williams. The selection will carry less than 10st taking into consideration his amateur jockeys claim, and he would have won first time out last season but for coming down two out.
Samcro misses the Grade 1 Naas Novice Hurdle on Sunday but Next Destination (1.45) looked a future star when scoring at Navan in Grade 2 company last time and can take this for Willie Mullins. The selection looked in trouble two out last time but found another gear going to the last and was well on top in the end.
Moyross is a horse I am looking forward to seeing over fences next season and has impressed in two starts over timber this term, but stable jockey Sean Flanagan deserts him for Athenean and Moyross may find things happening too quickly, back over this 2m 4f trip.
At Plumpton on Sunday I hope to see Finnegan’s Garden (3.10) follow up his recent fluent C&D success from a 6lbs lower mark. That race rather fell in his lap with his market rival an early casualty, but he will only carry 9st 9lbs with Tommy Dowling’s claim and he can see off the challenge of the frustrating top-weight Bramble Brook.