Always very competitive this 3ml 1 1/2f handicap chase has been dominated in recent years by the Nicholls and Pipe stables, who between them have won eight of the last ten runnings.
Paul Nicholls is represented this year by the two second season chasers, Just A Par, and Benvolio. The former would seem to be his best chance of adding to his previous successes. If Just A Par could reproduce the form he showed when beating First Intention at Newbury by 14l last November he would look well treated here off a mark of 143. However he disappointed in his next three races, particularly the last of them where he finished 52l behind Holywell at Aintree in April. He does seem to be suited by testing conditions so coming from this stable, particularly if conditions deteriorate , it would come as no surprise to see him involved at the sharp end on Saturday.
Last year’s winner Standing Ovation, represents the Pipe stable and comes here off a promising first run of the season at Cheltenham three weeks ago. Considered to be a better animal going right handed his second to Roalco de Farges at left handed Cheltenham was very encouraging. He is racing off a mark 11lbs higher than last year but still has a nice racing weight of 10st 13lbs. One reservation about his chance on Saturday would be a lot of rain, as both his previous record and his breeding ( by Presenting ) would suggest that top of the ground conditions are preferred. Given a dry week he must have a very serious chance.
Another of Saturday’s contenders who definitley needs it to stay dry is Alan Kings Pantxoa. He has been running well all summer and looked very reseloute when stepping up to 3ml 3f two weeks ago where over the course he won off a mark of 139. If it stays dry he is worth considering of a mark of 143 on Saturday.
Emma Lavelle’s Court by Surprise ran a nice trial for this when beating According to Trev very easily at Exeter seventeen days ago. He has been raised a severe looking 9lbs for Saturday, but having performed so well in last years renewal, when finishing third, he is still considered.
Harry Fry who is in such scintillating form runs Opening Batsman whom, if recapturing his form of Febuary 2013 would look very well treated indeed. Any strong market moves should be noted, but perhaps a watching brief for the moment is the best advice.
One who should be taken very seriously indeed is Neil Mulholland’s progressive chaser The Young Master. This 5yo won his first chase, a cl4 at Worcester at the end of September by 27l from Master of Milan,and then upped in class,he took a competitive looking amateur handicap at Cheltenham three weeks ago by 4 1/2L from Charwingworth with that good yardstick Balbriggan, a further 4L back in third. Raised 9lbs for Saturday, this highly progressive horse to whom all ground comes alike looks well treated and is one for the short list.
Colin Tizzard’s Golden Chieftain would be well suited by plenty of rain.
He ran with plenty of promise in the same race as Standing Ovation at Cheltenham on his reappearance three weeks ago where he finished 12L behind him. He was still in contention until tiring between the last two fences and is bound to have come on for the race. If the ground does come up soft it is not hard to envisage him being involved.
Tim Vaughan’s Ackertac is an interesting runner. In a twenty three runner handicap at the Cheltenham festival he finished 2L behind Standing Ovation to whom he was giving 11lbs. He made a satisfactory reappearance three weeks ago over an inadequate 2 1/2ml and is now 6lbs better off with Standing Ovation for the 2L at the festival. Another worth considering!
Win Selection. The Young Master and E.W. Ackertac .