Kimberlite Candy was cut from 40 to 25/1 with BetVictor for the Grand National at Aintree in April after outstaying his field in the Classic Chase – one of the premier National trials – at Warwick on Saturday. Hat-trick seeking Tiger Roll remains 5/1 market leader for the great race and Gordon Elliot gave an upbeat report on his stable star last week suggesting he is bang on target for the Cross-Country Chase at the Cheltenham Festival – a race he will also be trying to win for the third successive season.
There is a good twilight card at Wolverhampton including a qualifier for the Stayers’ race on all-weather Championship Day on Good Friday. Richard Hannon’s Raymond Tusk won a similar contest at Newcastle over 2m last month beating Funny Kid (5.50) by half-a-length, but I feel the French raider may get his revenge this evening and book his place in a race that he won a couple of years ago at Lingfield on Finals’ Day.
Maxine Guyon – who has been in the saddle for six of the gelding’s seven career wins – is back in the plate today and I don’t expect him to lock horns with Raymond Tusk until the last possible moment. The latter was beaten just 5L in the Melbourne Cup previously and is a worthy favourite but I just favour Funny Kid on this occasion and expect him to be played fast and late in this short home straight.
There are three Irish challengers in the opening extended mile handicap, and I think Eloquent Poet (4.20) should improve for the step up in distance for Adrian McGuinness who also saddles Dame Rapide who is the mount of Hollie Doyle.
The each way selection is bred to appreciate today’s mile and the filly stayed on well having raced in the front rank when fifth in a stronger race at Dundalk over 7f last time. Sean Davis takes off a valuable 3lbs on the daughter of Poet’s Voice.
Richard Kingscote rode Kaser (6.20) to win over today’s C&D last month but he is claimed by Tom Dascombe to ride Sha La La La Lee this evening and I hope the latter – who likes to race prominently – can help set the race up for Kaser who is only 2lbs higher this evening than when scoring here last time out.
Never Alone (6.50) has been gelded since disappointing at Newmarket on his third start as a juvenile and Charlie Appleby fits his charge with blinkers for the first time this evening. He would be a good thing if he returned to the form of his Sandown second on his penultimate start and he did cost 1,200,000gns as a yearling. He will earn connections nearly £3,500 if he wins this evening.
The Warren Greatrex yard remain a bit hit-and-miss but Young Lieutenant (12.35) will surely go close in the opener at Lingfield if he is more amenable to restraint than was the case in listed company at Haydock last time. A repeat of his hurdles debut when second at Wetherby would make him tough to beat although the forecast heavy ground is an unknown.
Flight To Milan is fitted with cheek-pieces for the first time and is well treated at present, but is he a strong enough stayer for this two-and-a-half-mile trip on heavy ground. I wonder. If Crossley Tender’s jumping holds up, he will be a threat to all, but the vote goes to Colonel Keating (1.35) who drops back in distance having been campaigned over an additional half-mile of late. His third here on his seasonal reappearance is not bad form for the grade and trainer Richard Rowe suggested his horse was unsuited by Leicester’s good to soft ground. There should be no excuses on account of the ground today.
Epsom Des Mottes (3.10) escapes a penalty for winning at Ayr in a conditional jockey’s event last week and Phil Kirby is looking to strike before the handicapper has had his say. The selection got a soft lead last time, but he won’t today with Gary Moore’s High In The Sky in the field given the latter made all when scoring at Plumpton last week. He carries a 7lbs penalty this afternoon.
An all-hurdle card at Punchestown, save the concluding Bumper, and in the 3m handicap hurdle the vote goes to Howaya Aoife (3.25). The selection only got as far as the second last time but Ricky Doyle – who was in the saddle when the mare scored here from a 6lbs lower mark back in November- returns to the plate.