Betfred Summer Plate Handicap Chase 2m 5 1/2f Market Rasen Saturday

Following last week’s stellar program on the flat, this week’s offering are of a considerably lower order, so let’s take a look at one of the Summer Seasons top jumping events, The Betfred Summer Plate.

Paul Nicholls has failed to hit the back of the net with any of his eleven contenders over the past decade, although three of them have been placed. However this year his 7yo son of Turgeon, the French bred, Alcala, looks a likely type to fill in this particular gap in the Master of Ditcheat’s C.V. A winner of three of his seven chases, he looked an improved animal when comfortably taking a Newton Abbot, Class3 handicap (2m5f Gd/Sft) at the beginning of June, off a mark of 135, and confirmed that good impression when, taking the step up to Class2 level in his stride, he comfortably defied a seven pounds higher mark, again at Newton Abbot, (2m5f Gd/Fm) twelve days later. He kept on well to deny the 2/1 fav, Brother Ted by 4 1/2L, and had the useful Midnight Cowboy another length back in third. This was an excellent effort by the French bred,
(they have a good record in the contest), who has won going right handed, so with proven ability in a large field, Alcala off his new mark of 147 is definitely worth considering.

Nicky Henderson’s 7yo, Days of Heaven is another very much on the up. A winner of seven of his fifteen starts, he has won his last three chases, showing progressive form on each occasion. He won at Kempton (2m good) off a mark of 136 in March, at Stratford, (2m 3 1/2f good) off 142 in May, and last time, fifty five days ago, he won off a mark of 148 at Haydock (2m4f good). Clearly progressive, the slight reservation about his prospects on Saturday is the trip.He doesn’t seem to have had much petrol left in the tank at the end of his races, and might just be found out by the extra 1 1/2f in a race always run at a pretty frenetic pace, particularly off his new mark of 151.

Henryville, trained by Henry Fry finished 4L behind Days of Heaven in that Haydock heat 55 days ago, and now meets his conquerer on 4lbs better terms. As a four times winner at the trip there are no stamina doubts about the Fry horse, but his new mark of 152 giving him top weight of 11-12, looks a big ask so Henry’s best chance of collecting on Saturday, may lie with his second contender, the ex Irish 8yo, Art Of Payroll. Trained in the Emerald Isle until recently joining the “Fry” operation, he was rated on a mark of 128. He won a beginners Chase over 20f at Down Royal at the beginning of May, his first win from twelve attempts over the larger obstacles, (placed seven times). His record isn’t exactly awe inspiring but he did have the well supported favourite 24L back in third at Down Royal, and will be well suited by Saturday’s trip, so with his nice weight of 10-09 and in the hands of ace trainer Fry, is well worth considering.

Jonjo O’Neill runs his 2014 winner, It’s A Gimme, and the 10yo races off a mark of 134, only 2lbs higher than for that victory. He hasn’t won since, but showed that he was no back number when finishing second at Stratford off a mark of 133 six weeks ago, and it would come as no surprise to see him in the mix again. However the same owner/trainer combination, O’Neill and McManus, are also represented by course winner, I’dliketheoption, and this 6yo son of Presenting has plenty to recommend him. He took some time to get into a rhythm over the course 9 weeks ago, (2m3f good) but the further he went the better he got and finished strongly to win by 3 1/2L and 22L from Voix d’Eau and Yorkist. As a son of Presenting he will enjoy the likely good ground and looks nicely treated on a mark of 132 giving him the light weight of 10-06 to carry.

Owner McManus, has a third string to his bow with the 8yo Cup Final, another son of Presenting. Previously trained by Nicky Henderson, he is now in the hands of Ben Haslam and he demonstrated his wellbeing when going down by a nose to Midnight Shot in a two and a half mile Novices Chase at Hexham thirty three days ago, where the pair were 17L clear of the third horse. With a win in a 24 runner Punchestown handicap on his C.V. Saturday’s large field should hold no fears. As three of his four wins have been achieved going righthanded, and there are no stamina doubts, this lightly weighted animal, (10-06), is another well worth considering.

Selection : Alcala

E.W. : I’dliketheoption

John Gray

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