The 8yo Little Josh is the oldest horse to have won this in the last decade and there hasn’t been a winner aged 10 or older since Clear Cut in 1975 emphasizing that this is a race for the younger progressive type of chaser. Weight has been a significant factor over the past decade but three have carried more than 11st. These include Old Vic, from the Pipe yard who won with 11st 7lbs in 2005.
Course form has been most significant with 16 of the last twenty winners having previously hit the Bulls eye on the track. The Irish have had little success, with Eddie O’Grady’s Tranquil Sea in 2009 being their sole success since 1980.
The Pipe family have had great success with Martin winning eight times in his illustrious career and son David hitting the back of the net three years ago with the 7yo Great Endeavour .
The stable is represented by Easter Meteor on Saturday and is well worth considering. Having been brought down in this last year when travelling strongly, he turned out a fortnight later at Newbury , and ran Cantlow to whom he was Conceeding 3 lbs to 1 1/2 L. Brought down in a 2 miler at the festival he was put away for the season and now reappears representing the Pipe academy. Highly likely to have benefited from the change of scenery and the Pond House methodology, it would be no surprise to see him figure prominently on Saturday.
Alan King’s Uxizandre ran a marvellous race at the festival when just being run out of it by the classy Taquin Du Seuil, 2 1/2 ml. He was’nt stopping at the finish, and having won over 3ml on soft ground as 4yo hurdler there should be no stamina issues on Saturday. He went on to collect the Cl1 Gd1 chase at the Aintree festival and is undoubtedly a class act. Unfortunately this leaves him with a hefty 11st 12lbs to carry. Nevertheless he is one for the short list.
A winner over the new course at Cheltenham 2ml 5f on heavy ground in January, where he beat the Feltham winner Annacotty, the ex Donald Mc Cain trained Indian Castle is interesting. He went off the 7/2 fav for the Kim Muir at the festival but was never really in contention. Now in the hands of the very capable trainer Ian Williams, with his nice racing weight, and proven ability in testing conditions. He is another for the short list.
Favourite at the time of writing, Jamie Snowden’s Present View has a lot to recommend him. A winner over course and distance at the festival, in only his fourth race over fences. He made a very satisfactory reappearance 4 weeks ago in a 2ml novice hurdle at Cheltenham. He had the race at his mercy when making a mess of the last and went down by a hd to the very useful Vicente. He did sustain a severe cut to his leg and missed some work, but his upwardly mobile trainer is not unduly concerned. With a nice racing weight of 10st 12lbs he must have a great chance on Saturday.
Last years winner John’s Spirit again showed his liking for the course when winning from Persian Snow, Ericht, and Astracad, four weeks ago. However he will be racing off a mark 17lbs higher than last year, so perhaps the one to take out of the race is Phillip Hobbs’s Persian Snow.
He has plenty of course form, has a nice racing weight, and confidence would be further enhanced if we have plenty of rain.
Evan Williams’s progressive 7yo chaser Buywise is very interesting. He showed great reseloution at the festival in March where despite a series of mistakes and a bad blunder two out he stayed on into fifth behind Present View. He wasn’t exactly foot perfect a month later, again at Cheltenham when winning by 9L from Astracad. He made an eye catching reappearance at Ludlow when winning a 2ml novice hurdle three weeks ago. He is another who will be well suited by testing conditions so plenty of rain would be very much in his favour. The one slight reservation would be with his jumping but in the hands of his master trainer it will be no surprise to see a much improved performance in this department on Saturday.
Selection. Present View.
E.W. Buywise .