Saint Are, our e.w. Suggestion in last weeks National, ran a great race to finish 2nd at the rewarding odds of 25/1, so let’s hope we can point you in the right direction in this weekend’s Scottish equivalent.
Having won the race once and been placed three times from only ten runners, over the last decade, anything proud Scot Alan King enters must be treated with respect. His representative on Saturday is the 7yo Beneficial gelding Sego Success, who on only his second attempt over the larger obstacles, beat the well backed favourite, If In Doubt (won next time out) over 3m1f at Wetherby last November. He followed up six weeks later with quite a fetching performance when winning a Cl1 listed novices chase over Warwick’s demanding course. Strongly fancied for the four mile National hunt chase at the Cheltenham festival, He got seriously knocked about, and his jumping suffered, so it was to his credit that he was still in contention until between the last two fences. He faded to finish 5th 17l behind the runner up, and favourite for Saturday’s contest, Broadway Buffalo. Given a more trouble free passage at the weekend, the very progressive Sego Success, with his nice racing weight of 10st5lbs must have a good chance of being involved at the business end on Saturday.
Following his fine run at the Festival Broadway Buffalo’s chance has to be respected, but he has had a busy season and perhaps Saturday’s contest is something of an afterthought. He also does seem to reserve his best for an easy surface, so conditions are unlikely to to suit.
Paul Nicholl’s Sam Winner looked a likely type for this when beating The Druids Nephew and Saint Are over 3m31/2f at Cheltenham in November, and confirmed He was on the up, when beating the classy pair Medermit and Ma Filleule at Aintree four weeks later. Three weeks after that He again ran another good race when finishing 3rd in the Gd1 Lexus chase at Leopardstown. He reappeared 14 weeks later in the Gold Cup where he was pulled up before the third last, when he may well have needed the race. He remains the class act in Saturday’s contest, will not be inconvenienced by good ground, and must have serious prospects of emulating Grey Abbey in 2004, the last animal to hump 11st12lbs to victory.
Jonjo O’Neill’s Catching On, in March, won a 3m61/2f Exeter handicap very easily off a mark of124, and eleven days later was backed in to 5/2 fav to win the Midland Grand National at Uttoxeter off 130. The race may well have come too soon as he never got into his stride, and fell at the 8th. Now racing off a mark of 139 He doesn’t look particularly well handicapped, but with his attractive weight of 10st3lbs and coming from this yard, He is difficult to dismiss.
Last years runner up Trustan Times, has had a disappointing season and as a result is 2lbs lower in the handicap than last year. His shrewd trainer used the same race (Pertemps hurdle final) at the Cheltenham Festival, as he did last year, as the horses final prep for this. While it is true that Trustan Times has been disappointing over the season, it is worth remembering that the stable was badly out out of form all winter, and it would be no great surprise to see him to the fore again with his feather weight of 10st2lbs.
Tony Martin sends Gallant Oscar over from Ireland, and this lightly raced 9yo looks nicely weighted with just 10st1lb. He ran like a stayer at the Festival, when a running on 3rd behind The Druids Nephew and Grand Gesture. He had previously finished 4th in the Thyestes Chase, in awful conditions, to the Gold Cup runner up Djakadam,so does appear to be well treated at the weekend.
Peter Bowen is represented by Al Co and Edmund Kean. Al Co won last years renewal for the stable, but having got no further than the first last week at Aintree, and being 5lbs higher than last year, perhaps the more interesting of the two is Edmund Kean. Having been pulled up in his previous two races Edmund Kean, last time, ran very promisingly at Stratford when going down by a neck to Midnight Lira off a mark of 127. Bound to be suited by the step up in distance, and despite being 3lbs wrong in the handicap, it is not impossible that he might emulate Joes Edge, who won from three pounds out of the handicap in 2004.
Selection: Sam Winner
E.W. : Gallant Oscar