Stratford Race Preview, 31-10-19

Thursday October 31st

Second last fence omitted
in all chases

* indicates Horses on Shortlist
** indicates Selection

Stratford 3.25
Charlie Longsdon Racing Handicap Chase Class 3 0-140
2m3f98y – Going: Soft (Heavy in places) – 13 runners

Kilfilum Cross
Won one from five over fences; best run when 2nd to Any Second Now in Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir at the Cheltenham Festival in March, pushed along after 4 out and good ground going down the hill to be prominent 3 out, every chance approaching home turn chasing leader, effort and led straightening, pushed along, wandered, led a length 2 out, hard driven, stayed on, ran down last to left, headed soon after it, hard driven, one pace, 1st 2 pulled clear, no impression on going-clear winner last 100 yards. Possibly feeling the effects when well beaten behind Molly The Dolly at Ayr in April when last seen, a few mistakes,  pushed along after 14th, losing ground on 1st 2 next, lost place under a ride and well held home turn, tailing off 4 out, no more, 4th beaten 36 lengths. All wins over 2m7f or more to this point but the dam won at 2m, so with the going in his favour gets the benefit of the doubt
Western Miller
Not out of the first two in three races at Stratford and made all here in June, looked well, clear much of the way, hard ridden 2 out, stayed on from home turn, Blairs Cove was upsides last, found more under pressure run-in and won by 2 1/2 lengths. Added a win at Southwell next time, beating Wolfcatcher by 13 lengths, and another victory might have been on at Uttoxeter last month when last seen, slight error 10th, blundered 11th, dropped rear quickly and pulled up immediately behind Lovato. Tough task and ground perhaps not ideal (only one good runner-up on soft over hurdles),  but not un-doable
King’s Odyssey
Good 3rd in the 2018 Brown and Merriebelle Plate (Mildmay of Flete) at the Cheltenham Festival, half a chance 2 out, stayed on, faded after last, hard driven, no more last 125 yards and beaten 7 lengths. Was moving comfortably when fell 7th in the latest running of that, won by Siruh Du Lac, and hasn’t been out since. Best effort last season was on first start, runner-up to War Sound at Aintree in November 2018, chased leader 11th, in close to 12th, led approaching 3 out. pushed along, stayed on, led 2 lengths 2 out, hard ridden, 1st 2 pulled clear, headed approaching last, beginning to look held when mistake, ridden and kept on, no impression, beaten 6 lengths. No other form, weakening when falling behind Aso at Newbury, well beaten at Chepstow, then the Cheltenham fall. Is the wrong side of ten now, but ground conditions fine
Bennys King*
Having joined Dan Skelton, won both outings for the yard last season with the second a 2m5f handicap chase at Market Rasen on Boxing Day,  led 9th, drew clear 10th, going much the best in a 4 or 5 length lead turning out of back straight, pushed along off home turn, in close ot 3 out, ridden, stayed on, stuck to task under a hand ride approaching last, ridden out, stayed on well and maintained clear lead, workmanlike and decisive by 12 lengths from Pookie Pekan. Had something in hand there and, if fit and ready, could be more to come
Starts the new season unbeaten in two chases, following up success here at Stratford on March 11th with another at Kempton five days later, chased clear leader, himself clear of the rest, 1st 2 had gone 20 lengths clear of 3rd by 5th, ridden into 8th, moved comfortably, reduced gap to Envoye Special to 3 lengths, drew upsides when jumped left 3 out, travelled much the best going to 2 out led and went left again, pushed along and asserted approaching last, led 4 lengths jumping, at most pushed out, eased late, readily and decisive by 7 lengths from Envoye Special. Progressive when last seen
Kept busy last season; a little inconsistent but still useful – only win of last season at Haydock on January 19th, always first two, led going best approaching 3 out, niggled along, led a length and not shaken up in earnest 2 out, soon pushed along, joined approaching last, hit it, hard ridden, stayed on well under pressure last 100 yards, pulled clear of Zalvados, won by 2 lengths. Subsequent 2nd to Lillington at Newbury in March best subsequent form. Could be competitive if on a going day
Progressing mare landed a hattrick last season, the last leg of which was a 0-120 for mares at Warwick in November 2018, set good gallop, steadied into 5th, ridden into 10th, field closed up back straight, ridden into 11th, mistake 12th, ridden into 13th, brushed 4 out, ridden 3 out, stayed on to draw clear home turn, stayed on approaching 2 out, safe with the race when pecked on landing last, ridden clear hands and heels, stayed on well, eased late, unchallenged by 5 lengths from Black Tulip. Stepped up substantially in class, not up to it in Listed Lady Protectress Chase at Huntingdon in January, disputed lead (with none other than Grand National runner-up Magic Of Light), felt the pinch and made mistakes/lost place back straight, well beaten when fell last behind Happy Diva. Not sure where the handicapper’s got this one’s 132-mark from and opposed here, her wins coming on good to soft or better ground too
Aintree My Dream*
Shaped well to a point on reappearance at Chepstow on October 12th behind The Bay Birch, midfield, keen, headway 3rd,  led after 5th, ridden into 6th, mistake 8th, ridden into 9th, was a length up home turn, pushed along 5 out, headed 4 out, ridden and disputed 2nd till mistake 3 out, lost place, well held when hit 2 out, no more, beaten 13 lengths, which I’ll admit is a lot less than I was expecting him to be beaten. With the run behind him, given that he beat Western Miller at this track – which is Miller’s patch – back in April (held up that time, led 2 out and driven out last 100 yards), off the 132-mark that he’s got here, and back wearing a hood (which he did here in April and which he didn’t at Chepstow), this time he has a big chance
In a first-time visor, showed improved form when winning handicap chase at Uttoxeter in March last year, made most, some 8 lengths ahead 4 out, pushed along, stayed on, about the same ahead 3 out, sustained effort going to 2 out where further ahead, hard ridden going to last, ridden out from Terry The Fish; wasn’t up to tougher tasks, at Cheltenham in April reminder going down the hill to 3 out, the better jump there but ridden approaching home turn, hard ridden and slight lead 2 out, hard driven, headed last, hard driven, faded behind Bob Mahler, and disappointed to varying extents on three further starts in May and June. With cheekpieces on for this reappearance and much competition for the lead, not sure anything much can be expected
Best run over hurdles at Cheltenham in October 2018, lost a bit of ground when not fluent 6th, headway from 3 out and prominent again going to 2 out, pushed along nearing home turn, ridden and one pace approaching last, in close, put under pressure, hung left up the hill, faded a little,  kept on last 125 yards when 4th to Canardier – nothing else near. Only chase start in a good beginners’ at Uttoxeter on October 6th and shaped well till falling,  jumped left 1st, in close to 3rd and 8th (rather throwing his head in the air at the latter), niggled along 11th, headway and every chance 4 out, hard driven 3 out with a chance, hampered 2 out, driven, staying on and every chance when fell last, would have been beaten around 2 lengths behind Erick Le Rouge. Well treated on best hurdles but this is some ask for a horse having only his second chase, having fallen the first time
Town Parks
Best effort last season when staying-on 2nd to Adrrastos over 2m at Hereford in March, niggled along going to 9th, a length down 3 out, kept on going to 2 out, hard ridden and outpaced after it, turned for home some 6 lengths back in 3rd, hard driven passing omitted last, finished well, ran on strongly to go 2nd close home, beaten a length and a half. This trip will be more suitable on reappearance but his trainer Kerry Lee has a poor record with fresh-runners over the last three years (4% strike rate with horses, like this one, reappearing after 200 days or more)
Rose Sea Has
Before joining present connections, tried to make all at Pau on his chasing debut in December 2018 and went off in a big lead till was closed on, driven last 200 yards and was collared by Bel Apsis last few yards. In three starts for Dr Richard Newland (highly tried in Adonis Hurdle at Kempton on the first of them when well held behind Fusil Raffles), this four year-old has shown nothing  to suggest he’s worth a rating of 130 (equivalent to 120 for elders), or that he’ll stay 2m3f or more
Atlantic Storm
Exposed handicap chaser, all of whose wins (three of them at Stratford) and runner-up finishes have been over around 2m on good or good to soft ground. Was a well-held 5th to Cobra De Mai in this race last year and can’t see a good run for this one happening over 2m3f on soft (poor record on this ground)

Shortlist: Bennys King, Timoteo, Aintree My Dream

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