Mister Malarky has been the big mover in the early part of the week for the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury on Saturday and Colin Tizzard’s six-year-old is 8s from 12s with BetVictor for the valuable prize. Tizzard has Elegant Escape, West Approach and Robinsfirth also entered for the three-and-a-quarter-mile handicap chase but, if money talks, it looks like stable jockey Robbie Power will be aboard Mister Malarky at the Berkshire track.
At Thurles today I’m looking forward to the chase debut of the winning pointer/bumper/hurdler Royal Rendezvous (12.15) who might not be one of the stable stars at the Willie Mullins yard but is an exciting recruit to chasing. The selection was keen to post and refused to settle when pulled up in Grade 1 company over 2m 4f at the Punchestown Festival. Today’s 2m 2f trip looks ideal although Paul Townend might be in for a bare-knuckle ride if the selection is not amenable to restraint on his reappearance.
I think the drop back to 2m 2f will suit Hilltop Supreme (12.50) who was outstayed at Naas over an additional quarter of a mile last time. The selection remains a maiden after 12 career starts and is 2lbs higher than last time, but this intermediate trip promises to suit.
At Ffos Las Deja Vue (1.00) is confidently expected to go one better than when second at Fontwell to one of Jamie Snowdon’s – Early Morning Rain – who is held in some regard by BetVictor’s brand ambassador. The selection – a winning pointer on soft ground – drops back to the minimum trip and jockey Aidan Coleman looks sure to make it a true test in the mares’ only maiden hurdle. The newcomer Memphis Belle is bred to be decent and a market move for Evan Williams’ mare would be worth noting.
The betting (25/1) suggested the trip of 2m would be on the sharp side for Golden Whisky (1.35) on his chase debut at Chepstow but this brother to RSA Chase winner Topofthegame ran a race full of promise when a staying on third. I’m sure he will get further in time, but this step up to an extended 2m 3f should see him in a better light.
Special Princess (2.40) has been given plenty of time – 40 days – to get over her winning reappearance when she overcame a 581-day lay-off to score over 3m here last month from a 10lbs lower mark. The handicapper has seen fit to raise her 10lbs and she drops back in trip by half-a-mile but that was her first start for Rebecca Curtis and she looks open to further improvement despite her rising ten.
Fergal O’Brien has his string in tremendous form and at Taunton I am interested to see what the market says about the chance of Benechenko (2.15) returning from a 581-day absence. The selection has a history of going well fresh, is a winner between the flags and has the scope to jump a fence. He gets the each way vote with Connor Brace taking off a valuable 3lbs.
Robert Havlin got embroiled in a battle for the lead from a wide draw on Casanova (6.30) at Wolverhampton last time and a line should be drawn through the form. The selection was drawn out wide in stall ten – of 10 – last time but has stall one this evening at Chelmsford.
The hope is that Havlin will not have to use as much petrol from his plum draw to get into a decent position although this is a hot handicap. The Gill Brothers is a progressive three-year-old who looks a big danger for Stuart Williams.