Cheltenham Festival Race Previews, Thursday 12/03/2020

Thursday March 12th

Cheltenham 1.30
Marsh Novices’ Chase Class 1 Grade 1
2m3f168y – Going: Soft (Good to Soft in places) Over the New Course – 12 runners

Hasn’t lived up to promise as a hurdler and beaten 78 lengths in the Arkle at Leopardstown doesn’t bode well
At the age of 12 has been reinvented as a novice chaser, and in Flogas at Leopardstown challenging Battleoverdoyen when in close to 2 out, led going best home turn, pressed on, mistake last and challenged by Easy Game, hard driven, stayed on, held on well from Easy Game last 100 yards. Chance, if not a stand-out
Itchy Feet*
Overcame mistakes after a hold-up ride to win Scilly Isles at Sandown, running on well to beat Midnight Shadow: ran well to be 3rd in last year’s Supreme
Weakened out of contention in Arkle at Leopardstown last time and something to find, particularly over this too-far trip
Midnight Shadow
Left in front by Champ’s fall 2 out and held on from Paint The Dream in Dipper at Cheltenham: similarly good run in Scilly Isles, led 2 out but collared by Itchy Feet last. Likely to go well
Mister Fisher
Overcame a drop in trip to win Lightning at Doncaster in January, nudged along in last going to 3 out, pulled wide, good headway looking strong going to 2 out, shaken up, found more and led approaching last under a ride, the better jump, ridden out to beat Al Dancer. Doesn’t have a lot to find
Poker Play
Winning chasing debut but stiffer tasks his undoing, blundered badly 11th, lost place and tailed off behind Oldgrangewood last time
Reserve Tank
Hasn’t lived up to his promise, beaten in two from three and having little response to Danny Whizzbang at Newbury last time. On the evidence of this week so far Colin Tizzard’s stable doesn’t appear to be in form
Might have beaten Fakir D’Oudairies but for falling in Drinmore at Fairyhouse, was nudged along at one point but loomed up travelling the better when going at the second last; no answers to Faugheen at Limerick on Boxing Day, readily dropping away from the second last. Here’s where we see if that run was too bad to be true
Tornado Flyer
Readily outpaced behind Faugheen at Leopardstown in the Flogas, not jumping well (worst error 3 out), and something to find
Saint Sonnet
A lot to find after his win at Catterick on debut for current stable, not impressing with jumping and not putting the race to bed until the run-in from mid-grade company
Annie Mc
Unbeaten over fences, jumps soundly, but something to find – steep step up in grade

Shortlist: Faugheen, Itchy Feet, Samcro

Cheltenham 2.10
Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle Class 1 Grade 3
2m7f213y – Going: Soft (Good to Soft in places) Over the New Course – 24 runners

 Sire Du Berlais
Won this last year but races lazily and doesn’t jump well (actually didn’t when winning last year). Now blinkered first time; Gordon Elliott has a 16% strike rate with blinkered first time runners since 2008 (2 of last 10 such runners successful)
Not the force of old: given a bit to do but qualified when 5th in the Haydock Qualifier,  late ground and took the place post. Not sure what to expect but well treated
The Storyteller*
Reverting from chasing, shaped well in Leopardstown Qualifier over Christmas, never put in the race, ridden into 2 out with around 12 lengths to find, stayed on one pace approaching last, hung left, sustained effort and closed on those ahead, passed a couple close home and going on well at the end. Chance
Unexposed: staying-on 2nd to Third Wind in the Wincanton Qualifier, a mistake at the last costly and closing final strides. On breeding shouldn’t stay this new longer trip
Rocket Lad
Weakened badly and tailed off at Cheltenham behind Harry Senior, and traipsed round at the back at Musselburgh making mistakes last time, completing tailed off – seems out of sorts
A Great View*
In 2018 a blunder at the second last cost him a better finish behind Delta Work and Glenloe. In good nick after a good show in the Punchestown Qualifier won by Mary Frances, headway going comfortably and no more than 3 lengths off leader 3 out, shaken up, stayed on under a ride going to 2 out, sustained effort and chased 1st 2 off home turn, one pace under pressure as they went clear approaching last, kept on under a ride, stayed on run-in and closed on 2nd last 150 yards. Chance
Stoney Mountain
Didn’t jump well and got there eventually when winning Grade 3 handicap at Haydock in February; unseated only chase start; not really a factor in the Warwick Qualifier. Likely to be found out here – might turn up at the end
Third Wind
EBF Final winner didn’t cut much ice only novice chase start and reverted to hurdles to win Wincanton Qualifier on Boxing Day, prominent, in close to 6th, niggled along coming off home turn, ridden 2 out, stayed on well to lead approaching last, jumped slightly left, driven out to beat Jatiluwih. Ground drying out might not be ideal
Kilbricken Storm
After running okay behind Paisley Park in Cleeve at Cheltenham, was outpaced off the home turn in a steadily-run race when taking 3rd to Welsh Saint in the Haydock Qualifier last month; concerned about the form of the Tizzard stable this week, at least up to now, but the 2018 Albert Bartlett winner is well treated
Dingo Dollar
Came under a ride around six out in Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster last time; made running and faded to 3rd in the Newbury Qualifier; most likely a sitting duck here
Progressing hurdler won here on New Year’s Day but was off the bridle the whole way, reminder after 7th, struggling with two to jump then came to life approaching the last – not how this race is won (usually)
Fred The Foot
Good winner at Musselburgh on New Year’s Day, mistakes but stayed on well having pressed on early enough – 3 lengths clear turning for home; a little below that in the Musselburgh Qualifier, but not knocked about till the run-in. Drying ground a positive
Welsh Saint 
Staying-on 3rd at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day then took advantage of a steadily-run race when winning the Haydock Qualifier, travelled best approaching 2 out as produced to challenge, mistake, pushed along and challenged leader appraoching last, led jumping, hard driven, stayed on well to beat Silva Eclipse. Not bred to stay 3m and the Haydock race, despite the attritional conditions that day, was anything but a proper test at the trip
Dream Berry*
Nearest finish when 10 lengths 7th in the 2018 Martin Pipe. Off more than a year but great comeback in the Sandown Qualifier in December,  arguably travelled best home turn, headway to track leaders approaching 2 out, shaken up 2 out, stayed on and challenged for 2nd approaching last, took the place, 2 lengths down jumping, kept on, no extra under pressure when lost 2nd then left 2nd when Special Acceptance’s rider fell off inside last 100 yards, stuck to task. Often ridden with kid gloves
Burrows Park
Off the bit a long way out and got a strong ride when winning at Hereford two starts ago; struggling under a ride in the last mile of the Lanzarote at Kempton last time – can’t see this winning
Despite going nowhere most of the way in the 2018 Champion Bumper he got up from Carefully Selected. Lightly raced so far over hurdles and ran well in the Punchestown Qualifier on February 19th, 10 lengths last approaching 3 out, ridden and stayed on well to pass several approaching 2 out, put under pressure after it and kept on without making an impression approaching home turn, in contention for a place approaching last, no chance with 1st 2, mistake last, hard driven, ran on last 150 yards and was closing well on the 3rd final strides. Proved he needs a trip – yet more or less ran the same way as in the Champion Bumper; the jockey working harder than other riders and the horse’s best work not coming until the final six furlongs. Vulnerable
Tout Est Permis
Faded in the closing stages of handicap hurdles at Leopardstown in December and February, looking short of pace, and tailed off in Red Mills Chase at Gowran Park last time. Others preferred
Won at Market Rasen in November then stepped up when 2nd to Skandiburg at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day, led after 4th, niggled along after 10th, plenty of challengers when not fluent 2 out, niggled along home turn, stayed on in front approaching last, headed jumping, hard ridden, stayed on to pull clear of 2nd but no impression on Skandiburg last 175 yards. No stand out but might run well for a long way
Copper Gone West
Improved this season in mares’ company and good 2nd to Indefatigable at Warwick on February 8th, prominent, mistakes, put under pressure approaching 2 out, stayed on, hard driven between last 2, looked held last, kept on, no further impression. High enough in the weights and jumping needs work
Royal Thief 
Has won twice at Thurles: good 5th to Mary Frances in the Punchestown Qualifier, disputed lead when mistake 5 out, niggled along and disputed lead 3 out, soon more firmly pushed along, faded when steadied into and all over the place 2 out, hard ridden, no extra home turn and kept on same pace. Perhaps made a bit too much use of but looked short of pace at the end; likely sitting duck
Guitar Pete
Readily outpaced when the pace picked up in the Haydock Qualifier last month and remains unproven at 2m6f or more
Sunset Showdown
Three wins on good ground in the Summer; proved himself on heavy when runner-up to Tobefair at Cheltenham in October, edged closer approaching 2 out as disputed 3rd, travelled best of the field approaching home turn, niggled along straightening, shaken up on landing last, hard ridden, 1st 2 pulled clear, driven and no extra final strides. Checked out from the second last when 10 lengths last of 5 to Theo’s Charm at Uttoxeter last time. Not to be dismissed
Kansas City Chief 
Mistakes and in rear with two to jump behind Delta Work in this race in 2018. Always first two till running out at the last at Doncaster last time, ridden and tended to wander from the third last but looked the most likely winner at the time. Hard to fancy given how things went two years ago
Doubly Clever
Progressive in the Summer but when last seen was off the bit in the final mile behind Fleur Irlandaise at Kempton in November: unproven at further than 2m4f

Shortlist: The Storyteller, A Great View, Dream Berry

Cheltenham 2.50
Ryanair Chase Class 1 Grade 1
2m4f127y – Going: Soft (Good to Soft in places) – 8 runners

On collateral form, the match between A Plus Tard** and Min should go the way of the Henry De Bromhead-trained gelding – he looked like someone headed for the Queen Mother Champion Chase when he beat Chacun Pour Soi at Leopardstown over Christmas, and the latter beat Min* at Leopardstown in February, in theory putting A Plus Tard 7 1/2 lengths in front of Min, the winning margin in both races officially 3 3/4 lengths. Connections of A Plus Tard are probably wishing they’d gone for the Queen Mother given how that ended up, but what’s done is done. Where Duc Des Genievres is in the scheme of things is summed up by his being defeated by Bun Doran in the Desert Orchid at Kempton over Christmas, the latter well held behind Politologue in what melted down to a sub-par Queen Mother, and although Frodon was back to winning ways at Kempton in January it was only by a length from Keeper Hill, who is mid-140s as far as I’m concerned, and Frodon could do with the ground being softer – there’s a bit of rain in the overnight forecast, but not hour after hour of it. The same for Aso, who’s now blinkered first time after going nowhere near his top-drawer effort to chase Frodon home in this race last year, the pair of them utterly legless at the end – after failing to stay 3m in the Charlie Hall at Wetherby Aso’s been off his game in the Peterborough at Huntingdon then the King George, tailed off behind Clan Des Obeaux in the latter. None of Riders Onthe Storm, Saint Calvados (who himself would want it heavy) or Shattered Love look good enough to figure.

Selection: A PLUS TARD – Alternative: Min

Cheltenham 3.30
Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle Class 1 Grade 1
2m7f213y – Going: Soft (Good to Soft in places) – Over the New Course – 15 runners

A lot of hopefuls going against Paisley Park** then, but the result is expected to be the same as as it was this time last year. Even with a steady pace that wasn’t ideal in the Cleeve Hurdle – the whole field within five lengths coming off the home turn – he found the necessary when ridden for another decisive success. It’s really hard to see anything other than more of the same, and he’s likely to account for Summerville Boy again – the latter arguably going best on the home turn, but it doesn’t matter how hard ridden Paisley Park is with three to jump – he’ll keep finding.

The presence of Apple’s Jade* is intriguing though; you know what she can do – she just doesn’t always do it these days, for whatever reason. In the Grade 1 over 3m at Leopardstown over Christmas she smashed it, making all to beat Unowhatimeanharry with reopposing Bacardys well behind; in the Galmoy at Gowran Park in January, she pulled up. Now equipped with blinkers first time, we don’t know what we’re going to get – but at likely odds the chance might be worth taking.

After Emitom won the Rendlesham at Haydock last month, connections immediately announced they were coming here, but he has nearly two stone to find to get near Paisley Park. Former winner Penhill‘s form has lagged his career-best for nearly two years now – the horse who beat him in the Boyne Hurdle at Navan, Cracking Smart, didn’t exactly advertise the form in the Coral Cup, finishing fourth eventually after going nowhere most of the way – and it’s hard to see anything else getting involved.

Selection: PAISLEY PARK – Alternative: Apple’s Jade

Cheltenham 4.10
Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate Handicap Chase Class 1 Grade 1
2m4f127y – Going: Soft (Good to Soft in places) – Over the New Course – 24 runners

Snow Falcon
Regressive profile since winning at Gowran Park in October, several mistakes last time at the same venue behind Chris’s Dream, and not been a factor on either visit to Cheltenham (the first five years ago)
Mister Whitaker
Well held here in January behind Oldgrangewood, outclassed last time behind Santini but still very tired and pulled up on the run-in. Makes the odd mistake nowadays and doesn’t jump off the page off a high 152
Death Duty
No form since returning from a lengthy absence, mistakes and weakened with three to jump to be a tailed-off 4th behind Chris’s Dream in Red Mills Chase at Gowran Park last time
Siruh Du Lac
Made all to take this last season, but showed nothing only start this, behind Happy Diva in Betvictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham in November,  vigorously pushed along at the top of the hill, hard ridden and weakened approaching home turn, soon well held, tailing off when pulled up before 2 out. Obvious pace angle
Robin Des Foret
Cracking effort when 3rd in Caspian Caviar Gold Cup, but arguably found little; same story last time in Grade A handicap chase at Leopardstown won by Glamorgan Duke, dropped out rear, headway and prominent 2 out, travelled best, chased leader home turn, firmly pushed along passing omitted last, hard ridden in 2 lengths 3rd final 175 yards, looked heavy-legged and weakened inside final 100 yards, lost 3rd then lost 4th post. Found little, ungenuine effort, looked the winner and didn’t even make the 1st 3. The winning of this sort of race is clearly in him but he’s no certainty to go through with it. Last 10 year-old to win this was Holmwood Legend in 2011
Simply The Betts*
Much improved effort to beat Tuesday’s winner Imperial Aura in the novices’ handicap on the Festival Trials card, up with the pace, chased new leader approaching 3 out, ridden approaching 2 out, stayed on, led last, ridden out, stayed on well. Up 9 lbs but unexposed
Two fine runner-up finishes from his last two starts, headed late by Warthog in the Caspian Caviar and again on the Festival Trials card in January, rear of main group when mistake 4 out, not hard ridden between there and 3 out, at most niggled along after and gradually edged closer, some 4 lengths down 2 out, pushed along, stayed on, still 2 lengths to find last, hard ridden, stayed on, closed on Cepage last 150 yards but always held. Still a question over what he’ll find under pressure but chances of bettering last year’s 3rd in this race
Happy Diva
After beating Brelan D’As to win the Betvictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham in November, left in front by Slate House’s fall, gave Lady Buttons a race in Silver Vase Mares’ Chase at Doncaster (reopposing La Bague Au Roi 3rd), hard ridden approaching last in a three-way go, upsides jumping, hard driven, stayed on well, led 150 yards out, sustained effort, caught by Lady Buttons final stride, went down with honours. Hard races perhaps took their toll as she was lagging those efforts  when 4th to Domaine De L’Isle at Ascot last time, within 3 lengths straightening, steadied into 2 out, half a chance approaching last, all out, relegated to 4th last, driven and weakened run-in. Not now sure what to expect
La Bague Au Roi
Been largely consistent and gave of her best in Listed Silver Vase at Doncaster on December 29th, was joined up front approaching 3 out, headed, hard ridden, stayed on and was upsides Happy Diva as pair disputed lead 2 out, hard driven, sustained effort, still upsides jumping last, driven and faded run-in, stuck to task, 3rd to Lady Buttons. Tough task last time but did okay in Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown behind Delta Work, midfield when mistake 14th, made up ground and in main group 3 out, ridden, dropped some 4 or 5 lengths off leaders and struggling to stay in touch with them nearing 2 out, hard ridden and kept on approaching home turn without making an impression. Chance in her first handicap
Clondaw Castle
After blowing out in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup returned to form last time at Warwick when beating Two Taffs, tracked leaders 12th, ridden into 4 out, steadied into 3 out, moved best as loomed upsides leader home turn, niggled along, soon more firmly pushed, stayed on join leader 2 out, asserted under a ride approaching last, ridden clear run-in. The flip side is he’s now three double-digit defeats from three visits to Cheltenham
Kauto Riko
In this race last year niggled along after 11th, more firmly pushed along after 12th, struggling 13th, well back 4 out and passing beaten ones to take 19 lentghs 8th to Siruh Du Lac. Apparent stand-out run when 2nd to Top Notch in Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon at 100/1; last time jumped okay and looked like giving Definitly Red a race turning for home at Kelso only to get tired passing the omitted fences in the straight. That run is ‘don’t know’, but his run in this last year suggests ‘no chance’
Vision Des Flos
Apart from a win in a match hasn’t cut the mustard as a novice chaser, and checked out readily behind Itchy Feet in the Scilly Isles at Sandown last time, niggled along when prominent after 4 out, ridden and weakened 3 out, reminder, weakened further before 2 out, tailed off last of six finishers. Dropped out quickly in last year’s Coral Cup
Ben Dundee
In the 2018 County Hurdle, weakened nearing the last to run 11th to Mohaayed; in last year’s novices’ handicap chase, ridden after 2 out with a chance of 2nd, a bit slow last and outpaced, driven and kept on, took 3rd last 150 yards, no impression on 2nd. No chase wins since his beginners’ at Punchestown in November 2018. best this season 2nd to Minella Times in good handicap at Navan in December but looked the winner and didn’t win, surviving a horrendous blunder at the 2nd, gradually closing and leading on the bit before the second last before having no answer to Minella Times’ late surge. I’ve a feeling this one will flatten out when it matters
Only just got home by a nose and a short-head in Grade 3 handicap chase at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day, prominent 12th, brushed 4 out, travelled comfortably approaching 3 out, niggled along approaching home turn, soon more firmly pushed along, stayed on approaching 2 out, led there, ridden and stayed on approaching last, jumped slightly right, driven out, idled under strong pressure, headed 75 yards out, found a bit more last couple of strides and led post from Saint Calvados. Having won at Newbury the time before is on a hattrick and has claims
Imperial Presence
Front-runner who was last seen in Caspian Caviar Gold Cup, led jumping well till ridden and weakened approaching 2 out, kept on a bit after last till flattening out in the last 100 yards to run 5th to Warthog. In April ran a pretty much identical race when 4th to Mister Whitaker in Silver Trophy, and suspicion is that he’ll be a sitting duck
Deyrann De Carjac
Consistent novice, won competitive novice chase from Pym at Huntingdon in November and has backed it up with two good runs behind Champ, last time in Dipper at Cheltenham which Champ would have won if he’d stood up; couple of mistakes, niggled along going to 4 out, effort and stayed on into closing 3rd home turn, ridden and keeping on when left 2nd 2 out, hard driven, one pace when went left last, all out, driven up the hill, faded and lost 2nd to Midnight Shadow 150 yards out. Lacks size and sometimes fades in the closing stages
Louis’ Vac Pouch 
In the 2018 Pertemps Final, mistakes before hard driven approaching last with most of the field still in front, well held when left alone nearing last. Best run for new connections when 2nd to Secret Investor in Future Champions at Ayr last April, every chance but hung left approaching last, looked held jumping, driven, kept on, drew well clear of 3rd, no impression. Last seen out spurning a good opportunity to win in a jumpers’ bumper at Newcastle, moved best early in the straight but no answer to All Hail Caesar final furlong. Others preferred
Not much recent form, 2nd to Whisperinthebreeze at Leopardstown in February 2019 but didn’t find the necessary when ridden after the last, closed on by the 3rd late, and when in with a chance of beating O O Seven at Punchestown, changed legs approaching the last and a blunder finished him off. Seems to fail to stay longer trips, tailed off over 3m both runs this season. Hasn’t won the races he should have and, in four Cheltenham Festival appearances, has been beaten 22 lengths or more when completing, usually with the word ‘weakened’ in my pen-pictures
Seemed a doubtful stayer going in to the 2m3f handicap chase at Wetherby on January 23rd but smashed it, up with the pace final circuit, pulled clear with The Paddy Pie from 4 out, pair clear, left well clear 3 out, mistake 2 out, well ahead last, decisive from Beau Bay. He was the only horse to give his running there, but such were the style marks that he’s hard to leave out here
Highway One O One
A hard race at Kempton over Christmas seems to have knocked him off form – pulled up behind Cepage here at the Festival Trials card, pushed along and lost place from 13th, dropped away, tailed off when pulled up before 3 out; and again got out of contention in Grade 3 handicap chase at Kempton last month. Best watched for the moment
Was 4th in the 2016 Coral Cup. Hasn’t had his day in the sun yet but hinted at better at Leopardstown when 4th to Glamorgan Duke, midfield, mistake 6th, good headway approaching 2 out and chased leader away from it, niggled along home turn, pushed along approaching omitted last, put under pressure, one pace run-in, carried head to one side, kept on last 100 yards and took 4th post, no impression on those ahead. No change of pace there, but he’d made ground quite quickly from the third last to the next. Could be good to go
Springtown Lake
Pulled up after two serious mistakes in Betvictor Gold Cup but returned to form last two starts, finally getting second chase win at Warwick last time, made ground to chase leader 5 out, travelled much the best when ridden into 4 out, effort delayed upsides leader, pushed along a length down home turn, effort and led/mistake 2 out, hard ridden, stayed on well to draw clear, 4 lengths up last, left further clear, ridden out, stayed on well, unchallenged from The Bay Birch. No form at previous Festivals (mistake 3 out and all done on the home turn in the novices’ handicap in 2019) and suspicion is that this isn’t his track
Royal Village
Several mistakes and off the bridle from halfway when winning Class 2 handicap chase at Southwell in August; travelled better when last seen out at Market Rasen in October but lacked in the finish, led 4 out, the better jump 3 out, hard driven, looked all out and didn’t go away from Copper West, a length up 2 out, hard driven, was joined last, headed 150 yards out, weakened and lost 2nd final strides. Not for me
Not Another Muddle
At last year’s Festival was 5th in the Grand Annual, keen early and errors, good ground to dispute 4th some 3 lengths off leader home turn, hard ridden approaching 2 out, hard driven, one pace between last 2, looked held last behind Croco Bay. Not out since April, not ideal to come here on seasonal debut, particularly with the suspicion that 2m is his best trip – last time out run at Fontwell in April 2019 behind Romain De Senam backs that up to an extent, held up and keen, mistake 1st, led 2 out, not fluent last and went from a length up jumping the last to a length down at the line

Shortlist: Simply The Betts, Oldgrangewood, Blazer

Cheltenham 4.50
Daylesford Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle Class 1 Grade 2
2m179y – Going: Soft (Good to Soft in places) – Over the New Course – 22 runners

Willie Mullins has won all four runnings of this race to date and has the form pick this time, last year’s runner-up Concertista*, prominent on the bit 2 out, shaken up 150 yards off last, effort and ran on to lead nearing it, in close and went left, hard ridden, stayed on, headed by Eglantine Du Seuil close home, and comes here in good nick after chasing up Black Tears – who ran so well in the Coral Cup on Wednesday – at Leopardstown last time out. Main opposition is Floressa*, who took on some decent mares at Doncaster last time and acquitted herself well, niggled along approaching 2 out, more firmly pushed along approaching last, challenged for lead jumping, headed by Lady Buttons, was bumped 200 yards out, driven, lost 2nd but was coming back at the runner-up Irish Roe in the final strides. She holds the front-running Timetochill on that form (the latter making the running to the second last at Doncaster then checking out). Ludlow handicap-scorer last time out Getaway Totherock is yet to race over the minimum trip and was off the bridle to reach a challenging position going to the home turn, and for one against the pair who I think are the big two I’m looking at Ard Abhainn*, who won well in a Listed novice at Thurles in January, chased leader before in close to 3 out, pushed along approaching home turn, put under pressure after 2 out, stayed on to lead nearing last, ridden out, stayed on well to draw clear; or alternatively Minella Melody, who’s beaten that rival before and improved last time to win a mares’ Grade 3 at Fairyhouse, disputed lead under a ride approaching 2 out, upsides between last 2, stayed on though hung right going to last, the better jump and asserted early on the run-in.

Shortlist: Concertista, Floressa, Ard Abhainn

Cheltenham 5.30
Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Amateur Riders’ Handicap Chase Class 2 0-145
3m2f – Going: Soft (Good to Soft in places) – Over the New Course – 24 runners

Forgive the slapdash, but whilst respecting its long history, this isn’t one of my favourite races. I’m against Le Breuil over this shorter trip than last year’s National Hunt Chase, and I’m looking at Deise Aba*, winner of the Masters at Sandown last month and the mount of Will Biddick, who was excellent on Lamanver Pippin in the NH Chase on Tuesday (haven’t seen it mentioned in dispatches, but there was one hell of a recovery at the first fence on the final circuit – nine out of ten riders would have been unseated), Paddy Power Chase runner-up Fitzhenry* (had an excuse last time, badly hampered at the last when in contention behind Glamorgan Duke at Leopardstown), the consistent The Kings Writ (not sure about the drying ground for him though), Ardlethen who ran well for a long way in the Towton at Wetherby last time, Kilfilum Cross* who needs this sort of trip, and Cloth Cap, who can make the odd mistake – another concern with him is that he found little when collared by My Old Gold at Doncaster last time. The only point of the Edinburgh National at Musselburgh where Bob Mahler looked like winning was the post, not at any stage of the previous four miles, and I’m against Noel McParlan’s mount for that reason – the rider’s arms will get a thorough workout.

Shortlist: Deise Aba, Fitzhenry, Kilfilum Cross

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