Wetherby Preview, 26/12/2019

Wetherby
Boxing Day

Wetherby 2.10
888Sport Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase Class 1 Grade 3
3m45y – Going: Soft – 10 runners

Lake View Lad
Last season won the Rehearsal at Newcastle, then this race last year, pushed along approaching 4 out, switched inner to middle, stayed on under a ride 3 out, drew upsides Captain Chaos 2 out, led approaching last and asserted nearing it, driven clear run-in; was 3rd in Ultima at Cheltenham subsequently before pulling up in Grand National. On reappearance, was below his best in the latest Rehearsal at Newcastle, mistake 8th, shuffled back and last of main group 9th but travelled comfortably till pushed along after 12th, pushed again home turn with some 6 lengths to find on leaders, hard driven after 4 out, no impression approaching 3 out and looked well held, losing ground on those ahead when mistake 2 out, no more. With Top Ville Ben and Jonniesofa ruining each other’s chances up front it should have set it up for this one as much as it did for eventual winner Takingrisks, and ‘LVL’ probably isn’t in as good form this time round
Top Ville Ben
Desperate conditions by the time the Charlie Hall at Wetherby was run probably weren’t in this one’s favour and he dropped away once headed with four to jump, dropping to last 2 out and tailed off behind Ballyoptic. Was better all round in Rehearsal at Newcastle but had his win-chance compromised by getting involved in a battle with Jonniesofa up front from the 13th, along with that rival travelled best home turn, opened up a 2-length lead on straightening, ridden along from 4 out, stayed on in front, sustained effort and pulled some 8 lengths clear by 2 out, steadied into last, all out and looked empty, driven out, was headed 50 yards out, lost 3rd last stride. Agony on the run-in, still clear 100 yards out but the scrap for the lead taking its toll as first Takingrisks then Captain Chaos, neither of whom looked a likely winner turning in, went past to relegate him to 3rd. A 3-lb rise to 154 adds insult to injury, but still half a chance here if the Rehearsal hasn’t left a mark
Wakanda
In 2017 was a head runner-up to Get On The Yager in this race, was up to 2 lengths behind going to last, the better jump, hard driven, stayed on, headed close home and one pace last 75 yards; last year behind Lake View Lad, unable to go with 1st 2 before mistake 3 out, well held next. Took his one win of the campaign when beating Robinsfirth in Peter Marsh at Haydock in January, headway and prominent 15th, pushed along turning out of back straight, niggled along approaching 4 out, soon ridden along, stayed on, chased leader 3 out, hard ridden, lugged left, only a neck down 2 out, hard ridden, stayed on, the better jump and led last, hard driven, stayed on strongly last 150 yards to assert. Not seen out since pulling up behind the same horse in Grand National Trial at Haydock in February, had dropped to last when mistake 9th, not fluent 11th, ridden into and not fluent 13th, tailing off when mistake 14th, pulled up before 16th. First time out isn’t the time to catch this one (in common with his stable’s horses in general) and little expected
Bennys King*
Last Boxing Day won a 0-125 handicap at Market Rasen under Bridget Andrews (rides here), led 9th and finding plenty from the home turn to draw clear of Pookie Pekan. Not at his best on reappearance but resumed progress when winning Sir Peter O’Sullevan Memorial over 2m6f at Newbury last month, chased leader 7th, in close to 12th, led 5 out, niggled along home turn, soon more firmly pushed, staying on when mistake 4 out, sustained effort and drew 3 lengths clear 3 out, about the same in front 2 out, hard driven approaching last, kept up the gallop, driven out run-in, pulled clear run-in, workmanlike and decisive by 6 lengths from Sametegal. Not stopping at the end there, looks likely to stay new longer trip
Jonniesofa*
After having the hardest race a horse could possibly have at Haydock in December 2017 when 2nd to Lastbutnotleast in a novices’ chase, it was no surprise that he was off the track for nearly two years. Made a winning comeback at Ayr on November 2nd when beating Blakerigg, then once again had a hard race in Rehearsal at Newcastle, his taking on Top Ville Ben for the lead doing for his chance; prominent, keen, chased leader 4th, ridden into 13th, disputed lead there, along with Top Ville Ben up front travelled best of the field home turn, chased rival 2 lengths down on straightening, hard driven after 4 out, couldn’t find more under pressure from 2 out, lost 2nd last, driven and still a chance of getting the place till no extra last 75 yards, lost 3rd last couple of strides, 6 lengths 4th to Takingrisks in the end. If waited with a bit more he’d be able to stay this trip, so not without a chance
Guitar Pete
Winning reappearance in Listed handicap over 2m3f at Wetherby on November 1st, chased leaders under a push 4 out, sustained effort and every chance 3 out, ridden, stayed on, led approaching 2 out, ridden and stayed on to draw further clear approaching last, ridden out run-in to beat none other than Happy Diva, who subsequently reversed that in the betvictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham in which Guitar Pete was a tailed-off 8th, mistake 12th and lost place/pushed along away from it, rear going down the hill towards omitted 3 out, tailed off from 2 out, no more. Not out of the first two in four visits to Wetherby, despite reservations over the trip this he’s a contender
I Just Know
Finest hour when taking the North Yorkshire Grand National at Catterick off a mark of 131 in January 2018, ridden 3 out, hard driven approaching 2 out, led 8 lengths there, driven further clear of Billy Bronco approaching last. Nothing much since, falling first Becher’s in that year’s Grand National. Tailed off over hurdles at Wetherby on reappearance and was looking likely to tail off when pulled up in Anne Duchess Of Westminster Memorial at Bangor, pushed along and losing ground 7th and 8th, mistake 9th, pulled up before 10th. With regular jockey Danny Cook having chosen the same owner’s Wakanda, probably best watched here
Lachlan Bridge
No form for current connections, getting furthest in a race when pulled up in Durham National at Sedgefield, mistake 12th, mistake 17th and niggled along away from it, weakening and in rear when mistake 18th, tailed off 19th, mistake 21st, pulled up eventually behind The Caller. Has refused to race the last twice, at Wetherby in November (looked burly in the paddock) and in Rehearsal at Newcastle last time, very reluctant to race and begrudgingly went about 100 yards. Seems most unlikely to start, let alone run a race
Rocco*
Already been given a couple of tough tasks in this first season over fences and came through the first of those when staying on well from the home turn to beat established campaigner King’s Odyssey at Stratford in October. Below form next time then produced his best form yet last time out at Leicester on December 11th, tracked leaders 14th, pushed along home turn, going worst of the field approaching 4 out, hard ridden and outpaced after 3 out, effort under a ride from 2 out and stayed on on outer approaching last, lost ground and jumped it in last some 2 or 3 lengths down, switched outer to middle and put under pressure, stayed on well last 200 yards, took 2nd half a furlong out, went away from the 3rd and closed on Pistol Whipped a little bit close home, always held. Did well after he was the first to come under a ride and jumped soundly – looks well in to me
Didero Vallis
Two wins last season over 2m4f on soft ground, before failing to stay 3m when well behind Walt in Grade 3 handicap chase at Kempton in February. Seems some way off being on top of his game so far this season, last time 5th to Hogan’s Height in Grand Sefton over the National fences at Aintree, tracked leaders, in close to 4th (water), lost ground before mistake 8th, briefly niggled, back tracking leaders next, mistake 11th (Foinavon), pushed along after 4 out, mistake 3 out, held place under a push, every chance home turn, hard ridden approaching 2 out, put under pressure soon after, faded approaching last, looked held jumping, put under pressure and weakened further approaching The Elbow, no more last 150 yards. With the trip against him here (record over 2m7f or more 0P78, beaten 24 lengths or more when completing), easy to eliminate

Shortlist: Bennys King, Jonniesofa, Rocco

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