West Approach was an early casualty in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury at the end of November and Colin Tizzard’s chaser is 8lbs higher at Cheltenham tomorrow in the BetVictor Handicap Chase than when scoring at the Gloucestershire track last month. West Approach heads the market at 7/2 with BetVictor for Friday’s 3m 2f handicap one of the feature races on the opening day of the track’s two-day December meeting.
They go at Warwick today and in the 2m 5f Maiden Hurdle Welsh Saint looks sure to go close for Nicky Henderson, having run well when runner up at Exeter on his seasonal reappearance last month. The 5-year-old won a Bumper here back in March on good ground and he must go close, but I felt Firak (12.50) ran a race full of promise when fourth to Oliver Sherwood’s Severano at Chepstow on his first start for Dan Skelton back in October.
That form has been franked by the subsequent Newbury win of the Sherwood horse and winning Irish pointer Firak – who will make a very good staying chaser in time – gets the vote.
The Charlie Longsdon yard have been hitting the bar of late, but I hope Shanroe In Milan (1.55) can give the yard a welcome winner in the 3m chase. The each way selection is back down to his last winning mark and I thought he ran well for a long way at Ludlow last time having shaped with considerable promise on his seasonal reappearance over timber at Worcester.
A market move for the chasing newcomer Idee De Garde would be worth noting for the Skelton’s although he was a bitter disappointment at Uttoxeter last time, and he looks the type who may be best caught fresh.
The each way vote goes to Rough Night (3.00) who found the tight right-hand turns against him at Wincanton on his chase debut when a well beaten fourth. He has been dropped a couple of pounds for that effort, has the scope for the larger obstacles and will appreciate the return to a left-hand track. Alex Hales’ six-year-old will get further in time but he can reward each way support.
At Taunton Story Of Friends had the third six lengths back when second at Kempton over the minimum trip last time giving every impression, he would appreciate a step up in trip. The winner of that Kempton race – Flashing Glance – did little for the form at Wincanton last time, however, and preference is for Vaziani (2.35).
The selection finished runner up to an inform rival at Plumpton last time from a 4lbs lower mark and his sole career success came over 2m here as a juvenile. Trainer Robert Walford claims 7lbs from his gelding with leading conditional Bryan Carver taking over in the saddle.
The ground was bordering on soft at Fakenham last time – and not good as the official going description stated – when Viking Ruby (3.40) unseated her jockey at the last when still a length down and likely to finish runner up. If the ground is as described – good to soft – for today’s card at Taunton, then I think she has a good chance of following up her C&D win from October – albeit from an 11lb lower mark.
At Newcastle Rath An luir (1.45) cost connections £100,000 after winning a point in his native Ireland two years ago and ran a good race on his first start since when fourth at Ayr last month. He is entitled to come on plenty for the run. Orrisdale has won two of his three career starts but must give the selection 7lbs and that might be the difference.
At Chelmsford this evening Fox Power (5.20) has his first start since winning a listed race at Newcastle back in the spring. That was his first start in five months, so we know he goes well fresh and James Doyle takes the ride in this valuable mile handicap.