Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle - 1:30 cheltenham
Eighteen have been declared including Gilgamboa, Splash Of Ginge and Garde La Victoire whose connections have decided to take the bull by the horns and head for this Grade 1 race rather than the Vincent O’Brien County Hurdle. A little surprising in the case of Gilgamboa having won Ireland’s County Hurdle equivalent race but J P McManus does love a Supreme runner and he has others for the County. Gilgamboa (Boylesports Hurdle) and Splash Of Ginge (Betfair Hurdle) have both won big handicaps this season but only Brave Inca of Supreme winners over many years had run in a handicap hurdle and that wasn’t one of the major ones.
There will be a good battle to see who starts favourite between the speed horse, Irving, for the home team and Vautour for the Irish who is likely to make a three-mile chaser in time. Both are trained by stables that know what it takes as Nicholls (Irving) has won it twice and Mullins (Vautour) on three occasions.
This hasn’t been a good race for favourites though to start at under 3/1 as only three of the last 18 to start at 3/1 or less have won. The ground is coming more in favour of Irving but Vautour has the proven Grade 1 winning form where he beat a dual Grade 1 winner in the Deloitte which has also been the best novice guide to the Festival in the last 20 years featuring eight winners, Champagne Fever being the latest last year. Irving won the Dovecote which was a good guide in the 1990s but has gone quiet as a guide since 1994. If he is successful, he will be rare ex-Flat winner in recent times as ex-bumper horses have filled 17 of the last 18 win and place positions. The one ex-Flat horse to place in this race in the last six years was Binocular and he went on to win a Champion Hurdle! That statistic is also against Fantasy King, Sky Khan and Three Kingdoms. It should be pointed out that ex-Flat horses have been heavily outnumbered in recent years though.
Mullins also has Wicklow Brave and there is a suggestion that if he was owned by the stable’s principal patron, Rich Ricci, and not Vautour then Ruby Walsh would be aboard him instead. Then again, it would be hard to get off a Deloitte winner. Wicklow Brave needs to jump slicker but he has loads of speed and the drying ground will be in his favour and Paul Townend rides. He reminds me of Go Native who won this race five years ago. Valseur Lido is the third Mullins runner and should not be forgotten especially as two of his three Supreme winners started at 25/1 and 40/1. He has looked smart winning both his starts for the powerful Gigginstown team and the only thing that puts me off him is that only one of the last 19 winners had not run in the last 68 days (16 of those had run in the previous 45 days) and a setback means we have not seen him since Christmas. The John Ferguson-trained hat-trick seeking Three Kingdoms has been off for 74 days so is in a similar boat.
The main trend is that 15 of the last 17 winners won last time out which doesn’t inspire me much for the chances of Fantasy King, Garde La Victoire, Germany Calling, Josses Hill, Sky Khan, The Liquidator, Western Boy or Wilde Blue Yonder much. The latter would have won but for a last flight fall though and Josses Hill, although beaten, was only caught close home in a Grade 1 race and Western Boy gave Vautour a real race in defeat last time out.
Geraghty has decided to ride Vaniteux rather than Josses Hill (or been told to) and he is the Henderson number one now. The stable have won this race twice but not since 1992 and have thrown the kitchen sink at it in recent times with the likes of Sprinter Sacre, Binocular, My Tent Or Yours, Oscar Whisky, Darlan, Amaretto Rose and Spirit Son all running well but coming up short. If that collection of A-List horses couldn’t get the job done for Seven Barrows, can Vaniteux who has only come into this race recently off the back of excellent homework since he won well at Doncaster? I don’t think he will be far away. What The Liquidator has in his favour is that four of the last 11 winners finished in the first four in last season’s Weatherbys Champion Bumper in which he finished fourth before adding the Grade 1 equivalent at Punchestown but the Grade 2 race he won here in November has been a poor guide with winners only finishing 0900409 here.
This has been Ireland’s best race at the Festival winning 12 of the last 22 runnings despite being outnumbered and provided Vautour isn’t very well backed and usurps Irving at the head of the betting (as the record of favourites isn’t great), he would be the standout trends pick being a Mullins-trained (3 wins), Deloitte winner (best guide) who won last time out, is unbeaten over timber and did not race on the Flat. Very similar comments apply to his stable mate Wicklow Brave who has won his last five races but didn’t win the Deloitte as he won a Grade 2 instead showing loads of pace and this drying ground will be in his favour. It is not often Walsh is the wrong one though. Being ex-Flat means that Irving doesn’t make a trends-based short list and neither can any horse beaten last time out so and those that had been contesting handicaps as they don’t win the Supreme as a rule so the final short list selection is Vaniteux from a stable with two wins in the race and a host of placed horses of late and he makes most each-way appeal. Sgt Reckless is a last time out winner and ex-bumper horse but seven is older than I would like.
Racing Post Arkle Trophy - 2:05 cheltenham
Nine runners so for third year running we have a field of single figures but at least no odds-on shot like in 2012 and 2013. Champagne Fever looks like starting favourite to become just the second horse since Flyingbolt in 1966 to win three different races in as many years at the Festival (Bobs Worth being the other) and, to be frank, that is why he isn’t much bigger than 5/2 rather than what he has done since winning the Supreme which equates to winning a beginners’ chase in three starts.
That said, the race time and the way he jumped in that beginners’ chase was impressive so it was a surprise to see him make a bad mistake two out when he looked like he might win a Grade 1 at Christmas which knocked the stuffing out of him to the extent that he finished only third one place behind Trifolium (the winner Defy Logic is out for the season). It could easily be that getting involved with a pace duel with the winner that day led to his mistake but the upshot is he only finished third and he has not run since as Mullins has not been 100% happy with him and as only two of the last 27 winners had not won or finished second last time out, trends-wise, he looks a favourite to take on.
Ted Veale also fails on this stat and should be in the Grand Annual as far as I am concerned and only runs here as Tony Martin has thrown his toys out of the pram as wasn’t happy with the handicap mark he was given of 146. What did he expect running third to Dodging Bullets here in November? He is a maiden over fences and was fourth last time out so is not for me and I hope whatever he does here they may still consider running him in the Grand Annual on Friday.
In addition to Ted Veale being a maiden over fences so is the enigma, Grandouet, who has all the ability and could run into a place if he jumps well and everything drops right but I can’t tip up a maiden over fences in the Arkle and the only reason because it’s just too obvious and I can never recall such an instance. In his favour is that Henderson has won the race five times and the ground has now come right for him and his second to the Champion Chase-bound Hinterland in a Grade 1 is the best British form in the race as far as I am concerned. If he jumps well and gets a good toe into the race, on this ground and given how he swings away, he has an each-way chance and especially as he is the second best hurdler in the field (and the best two hurdlers have won 7 of the last 13 runnings between them) but he can’t be a trends pick being a maiden and he did unseat on his chase debut and only one Arkle winner in the last 17 years had fallen or u.r over fences before.
The best hurdler in the field is the former Champion Hurdler, Rock On Ruby, rated 167 over timber just 1lb better than Grandouet and five of the last 13 winners were the best hurdler in the Arkle. He is also 2-2 over fences (beat a total of three horses) and the ground is coming right for him but he is also a nine-year-old and we have to go back to 1988 to find the last of those to win the race and he is small enough which doesn’t make jumping fences easy for him. So he has positives and negatives to weigh up.
I think Trifolium is the solid one to run his race, the place-only banker of the contest if you like. He jumps great, he comes here in great form having bolted up in the Irish Arkle and although he likes cut, he was also third beaten just half a length in the Supreme two years ago so he should handle the ground and we know he handles the course. Although seven of the last eight Irish-trained winners ran in the Irish Arkle, we do have to go back to 1995 to find the last horse to complete the double.
Some believe the race fell into his lap as Defy Logic broke a blood vessel and Felix Yonger didn’t like the ground so he isn’t as good as he looked but that might be a dangerous assumption to make as he had to be reined back after some of his jumps and Bryan Cooper excelled on him riding him for the first having in the right place unlike Davy Russell on his previous two starts when beaten when firstly he set a mad gallop and then gave him too much to do. Like 9 of the last 10 winners Trifolium has won or placed at the Festival before as have Rock On Ruby, Champagne Fever, Ted Veale and Grandouet. The other four haven’t.
The ground is coming right for Valdez but does he have the class as he ran off 134 on his last hurdles start when also beaten whereas 13 of the last 14 winners were rated 142+ over timber? That said, the one odd one was Voy Por Ustedes also trained by Alan King.
Dodging Bullets won the Wayward Lad Chase like the last two Arkle winners after winning the November Novices’ Chase which has long been a good Arkle guide so has been winning the right races. There was no disgrace in failing to give a Champion Chase contender in Module 3lb last time on bad ground but ultimately he was worried out of it which makes me question whether he wants a battle.
In-running punters might be interested to know just one of the last 32 winners made most of the running. Connections of Champagne Fever, who made all to win the Supreme, have said they don’t want to kick on this time bearing in mind what happened at Leopardstown last time so seeing who will lead will be interesting. Maybe Western Warhorse who made all last time and is fitted with a hood for the first time.
Rock On Ruby
Only one of the last 23 winners started bigger than 11/1 so concentrate on the main hopes. Of those, 15 started second, third or fourth favourite and as I have to oppose the favourite, Champagne Fever, having failed to finish first or second last time out, the next three in the betting appeal more from a trends perspective anyway. Especially Trifolium who has been placed in a Festival novice hurdle before like five of the last ten winners and arrives here off the back of an impressive win and jumping performance. I find it hard to believe he won’t be thereabouts at worse. Having won two of the best trials and representing a trainer with two runs in the race and who jumps well to boot, then Dodging Bullets is also unlikely to be too far away. Although he has not been placed in the Festival in two starts, he did look like he might win the Triumph on just his second hurdles start two years ago but committed too early and finished fourth in a big field. Being ex-Flat, the ground is coming in his favour and he was taking on a 157-rated second season chaser when just failing to give him 3lb last time and that chasing form sets the standard. Take your pick if Rock On Ruby is a trends horse or not as being a nine-year-old says he isn’t but being the best hurdler race with Festival form figures of 212 says he is. As not many nine-year-olds of his calibre have run, I am inclined to prefer the positive trend over the negative trend and he will start in one of those three favoured positions in the betting but I do fear a little that his jumping may need time to warm up in a race where they take no prisoners.
Baylis & Harding Affordable Luxury Handicap Chase - 2:40 cheltenham
A maximum field of 24 have been declared and Cantlow was favourite last week but I doubt he will anymore as McCoy has chosen Alfie Sherrin of the J P McManus runners so Robert Thornton rides him off top weight but he is rated 151 and there has been no winner of this race rated 150 since 1983. In fact 143 has been the cut off for the last 14 runnings though four recent winners won off 142 or 143. He was ante-post favourite for this handicap last year but was instead switched to the Byrne Group Plate and then withdrawn at the start on veterinary advice. horses rated 144+ I therefore can’t put up on any trend-based short list in addition to Cantlow are Vino Griego (goes well at Cheltenham and was second in the Byrne Group Plate last year), Pacha Du Polder (not run for 296 days but his owner put him up as an each-way charity bet on Saturday on a preview panel but Nicholls is 0-16 in this race and only had one horse place), Restless Harry (won either side of a good fifth in the Argento Chase), Golden Chieftain (a surprise 10l winner of this race last year when bottom weight but now races off a 14lb higher mark), Hadrian’s Approach (not the best jumper but third in last season’s RSA) and Holywell (a novice who won last season’s Pertemps Final in first time blinkers and they are back on for the first time this season having worn cheekpieces in all chase starts).
Most thought Alfie Sherrin, who won this race off a 5lb lower mark two years ago, would struggle to get a run but he did so with ease in the end and it is significant McCoy rides rather than the top weight, Cantlow, who was favourite last week. Alfie Sherrin has only run once this season when an eye-catching fourth in a valuable fixed brush hurdle handicap at Haydock in November. He is trained by Jonjo O’Neill who loves this race and who has saddled two winners and two seconds since 2002 and his owner, J P McManus has owned three winners in the same time. Expect him to be very well tipped up. However, I can’t touch him from a trends perspective as he is 11 and just one of their last 44 to run has placed and he was a well beaten fourth. Others too old on that stat are The Package and Fruity O’Rooney who have also run very well in this race in the past finishing second.
O’Neill also runs the novice, Holywell, but a mark of 146 looks stiff according to his trainer and I am unconvinced he jumps well enough as he is a small horse. However, the blinkers are back on for the first this season and there is no better trainer than O’Neill with new headgear angles at the Festival. Novices have won three of the last ten runnings (would have been four had Bensalem not fallen two out, probably) and in addition to Holywell they are represented by Green Flag (runner-up in the Grade 1 Kauto Star Chase), Muldoons Picnic (more experienced with eight chase starts) and the Tony Martin-trained Wrong Turn who has been winning handicaps (stable won with this with a novice that had been running in handicaps in 2006).
Given the field size, this is a good race for punters most years as nine of the last 13 winners had started in the first four in the betting, positions currently occupied by Alfie Sherrin, Hadrian’s Approach, Holywell and Cantlow though Green Flag, Time For Rupert or Wrong Turn could be backed into such a position being hot on their heels in the market.
Seven of the last 16 winners had placed at worst at the Festival before and qualifiers are Alfie Sherrin, Holywell and Golden Chieftain (first), Vino Griego, Time For Rupert, Fruity O’Rooney, Ackertac and The Package (second), Cantlow and Hadrian’s Approach (third). Time For Rupert is also interesting as he showed a lot of zest when second in probably the best ever veterans’ chase ever run last time out (and being ten years of age he is not ancient) and he was fifth in the Gold Cup just five starts ago and he is running off just 138 and only found Big Buck’s too good in a World Hurdle.
Six of the last 11 winners won last time out which is a fine strike rate so that is a tick for Restless Harry, Holywell, Hadrian’s Approach, Ma Filleule, Wrong Turn and King Massini. No winner has contested the Hennessy Gold Cup for 24 years which is surprising being the best staying handicap chase earlier in the season and Hadrian’s Approach (unseated rider) is this season’s only representative.
Time For Rupert
I like Green Flag best of the novices as Holywell is higher than ideal off 146 (last 14 winners no higher than 143) and they have a good record in the race. Trained by Lucinda Russell, her horses usually also outrun their odds at the Festival notably Brindisi Breeze. He races bang off 143 and four of the last six winners won off 142 or 143. Tony Martin won this race with a similar type to Wrong Turn when Dun Doire struck eight years ago and he is interesting having won his last two starts and has got in off a low weight. He only got up close home last time so may be better than the Handicapper thinks. Six of the last 11 winners also won last time out. One of that pair may squeeze into the top four in the betting which has been a good place to be as might Time For Rupert who has quality course form which has been a good thing for this race, he ran well last time out and has plummeted down the weights to a very eye-catching handicap mark for a horse that was fifth in the Gold Cup five starts back. At double-figure odds I quite like his each-way chance and a couple of horses as old as ten have ten have won this race in the last seven years. Eleven is just too old though which is the only thing putting me off Alfie Sherrin. I will just give the mare, Ma Filleule, preference over King Massini of the last-time-out winners for the final berth as Henderson has had five placed runners from 15 runners since his Marlborough won in 2000 including Carole’s Destiny who was second as a mare.
Stan James Champion Hurdle - 3:20 cheltenham
Just nine runners but a fantastic renewal despite no Annie Power (right decision) and Un De Sceaux (wrong decision). That would suggest a huge confidence in Hurricane Fly by Willie Mullins in his bid to become the sixth three-time winner but is the drying ground going against him and only two ten-year-olds have won in the history of the race since 1927 (and they won it the next year)? Then again, true champions are trends busters and this 19-times Grade 1 winner has broken three stats in this race already. He may need a personal best this year however in the face of the stiffest opposition he has faced in the race.
Statswise, however, all the leading hopes have at least one negative trend to overcome and the British pair of The New One and My Tent Or Yours have been winning the wrong races as just one winner of the International Hurdle (The New One) from the last 24 to run has won and just one Christmas Hurdle winner (My Tent Or Yours) from the last 22 to run has won. Beaten horses in those races have a far better record for reasons explained in my book. On that basis, it can be argued that The New One might be the better stats horse (though maybe not as explained in the conclusion) as he was second in the Christmas Hurdle in addition to winning the Neptune which has been a far better guide than the Supreme in which My Tent Or Yours was outbattled into second last year. The New One has a very similar profile to Rock On Ruby the year he won it having been beaten a nose in the Neptune and he also fluffed the final flight in the Christmas Hurdle when appearing likely to win. Then again, My Tent Or Yours won the Fighting Fifth in which Grumeti was third and that race featured three Champion Hurdle winners on the spin followed immediately by the winner placing for the next three years.
The big stat against Our Conor of course is being a five-year-old as they are just 1-90 since 1985. However, six of the last 19 five-year-old to run have placed at worst including Katchit who won. He could just be exceptional having won the triumph in extraordinary fashion and exceptional five-year-olds can win the Triumph as Sir Ken, Persian War, Night Nurse and See You then have proven and he is only being trained for one day so I expect him to improve fitness-wise on his two runs this seasons. By and large, however, horses don’t win for the first time during the season in the Champion Hurdle.
Jezki wears a hood for the first time to help him settle and the presence of the pace-making Captain Cee Bee will help him and probably also My Tent Or Yours in the first part of the race. He has been beaten by Hurricane Fly twice and My Tent Or Yours (is 1-1 with Our Conor) but he has been in the first four at the meeting before unlike Melodic Rendezvous who missed the Supreme last season with a setback and the ground looks to be going against him. He did win the Kingwell Hurdle however and five winners since 1990 ran in that Wincanton trial.
My Tent Or Yours
As mentioned earlier this is an odds trends race this year as they all have a negative to overcome so, rightly or wrongly, I have concentrated on the big stat which is that 25 of the last 30 winners won last time out so, on that basis, I can’t have The New One, Our Conor, Jezki, Ptit Zig, Grumeti or Captain Cee Bee on that trends so the short list rather picks itself. I wouldn’t blame you if you took a different approach though as strength of trends are open to many interpretations. My Tent Or Yours is given the main trends vote having run in the right races this season, he keeps winning and his yard have won the race five times before. Hurricane Fly is older than ideal at ten but he is a winning machine and Mullins thinks he is even better this season than ever before and you have got to love the way he keep sticking his neck out, more so than ever in the Irish Champion Hurdle last time out. I am not convinced the ground will suit Melodic Rendezvous but he is an under-rated horse who keeps winning and won what is often a good trial at Wincanton so, as being the only other last-time-out winner in the race, he completes the short list.
OLBG Mares Hurdle - 4:00 cheltenham
This is all about Quevega of course gunning for a sixth win in the race and as she keeps winning the race there are no real trends to talk of so straight to the conclusion. I do think it is a better race than last year though.
Willie Mullins believes Quevega is ahead of schedule and will be fitter in this race than for the last two years where he thought she looked heavy in the paddock (there is nothing of her to my eyes) so she deserves to be odds-on to win this race for the sixth year running even if it is a better race than last year and maybe all the others she has won as well. She would have won easily last year but for clipping heels with a rival so I wouldn’t fear the French-trained runner-up Sirene D’Ainay for her and I don’t think ten is too old for a mare with so few miles on the clock. Her stable mate, Glens Melody, might be the most interesting each-way alternative as she is tough and finds under pressure and will relish the hill in my view despite flopping here in December taking on the boys and is a Grade 1 winner of a mares race in Irelnd. Ideally the ground would be softer for Highland Retreat to show her best but she won what is by far and away the best British guide to this race at Ascot, a contest that would have thrown up three winners of this race of Quevega had not been around. The ground, however, is coming in Doyly Carte’s favour and she has winning form at the course in the spring so she is also worthy of each-way consideration. I am not convinced Cockney Sparrow will stay (never tried the trip) or handle undulations (best runs on Flat courses) and she arrives here off a heavy fall last time.
National Hunt Chase - 4:40 cheltenham
A different race these days where class tells and the last three winners started favourite having been officially top rated and contested a Grade 1 race during the season. Foxrock is currently favourite, he was third in the Grade 1 Topaz Chase behind two live RSA hopes and has won twice since so he is a big player for Ted Walsh (who excels with staying chasers) and Katie Walsh. However, he is only a six-year-old and five and six-year-olds combined are 1-65 since 1989 which has to be a concern. Rogue Angel is also six. Two of the last three winners did run in the Topaz Chase though.
Foxrock is not top rated however as he is rated 144 as that distinction belongs to Shotgun Paddy who is rated 151 after beating Carruthers in the Betfred Classic. Actually, he is 5lb clear top rated on that victory over Shutthefrontdoor on 146 and I think the race will be fought out by the trio who head the betting as this does not look a deep race at all this year. Whether he will appreciate the ground is the main concern with Shotgun Paddy who can also get a bit low at his fences. Shutthefrontdoor makes plenty of appeal as he heads for this easier race than the RSA or 3m handicap for Jonjo O’Neill who has won this race on five occasions and J P McManus has owned four winners. He has not run since disappointing in December but he has had a wind operation since then and had looked smart on his previous two runs including when second in a staying novice chase here in November which has featured two of the last three winners, so there’s your trends horse and I can see him being backed into favouritism with Nina Carberry booked who has led over the last fence in front in this race for the last three years. I fancy she may be able to hang on this time.
Suntiep represents last season’s successful trainer-jockey combination and Willie Mullins has trained him for this race but he has only run in two chases and all 12 winners since the race conditions were dramatically altered have run 3+ times over fences.
Midnight Prayer represents Alan King who won with Old Benny and his Godsemejudge was third last year before winning the Scottish National. Midnight Prayer is not unlike the latter having also impressed at Warwick and he will stay but being a nine-year-old is just a little older than ideal.
There are some very slow horses in this race which is also shorter on runners than usual so those towards the head of the market can dominate. Even though Foxrock meets two big trends (if he holds on to favouritism that is), he also fails on a big pattern (age) so I have reluctantly let him pass. Shutthefrontdoor has the form, handles the course, jumps well, ran second in a good trial of late, has had a wind operation since his last run and represents connections who are mustard in the race so he is the one to beat on trends. Shotgun Paddy is top rated like the last three winners so has to be seriously respected, especially with Derek O’Connor on top but drying ground is the worry for him. The hope is that the longer distance could offset that like it did for the mudlark, Back In Focus, 12 months ago.
Rewards4Racing Novices’ Handicap Chase - 5:15 cheltenham
With seven of the nine winners being sent off in the first five in the betting, two of which started favourite, perhaps this isn’t the nightmare race it can appear at first glance? Inaugurated in 2005, the first eight winners had all either won or finished second on their most recent start from less than 50% representation so over half the field are statistically up against it; Up To Something, Grandads horse, Baby Mix, Art Of Logistics, Pendra, Attaglance, Close House, Tony Star, Ohio Gold, King Vuvuzela and Gardefort.
Of the remaining nine that won or were second last time out it is worth noting that four of the last five winners won last time out which is a positive for Ericht, Persian Snow, Present View (won the same race as Hunt Ball at Kempton before he won here), Ahyaknowyerself, Festive Affair, Buywise and Buthelezi.
Six of those nine winners were having their handicap debut and certainly do not dismiss maidens over fences. Finger Onthe Pulse recorded his first chase success in this race and a maiden over the larger obstacles has placed in each of the last four years including filling three of the first five positions in 2012. Ohio Gold was placed last year and is still a maiden over fences and I can see him place again given his experience. He was also fourth in the novice handicap chase at Cheltenham on Festival Trials day race that supplied last season’s 1-2.
Another quirky stat is that a horse wearing headgear for the first time have finished placed at huge odds in each of the last five runnings from only ten that tried (and four of those were in 2009) and Dessie Highes has turned to a first-time visor to Art Of Logistics who was fifth in the Grade 1 Drinmore Chase earlier in the season and did not enjoy testing ground last time out when fourth in another Grade 1 dropping to 2m.
All but one winner was beaten on their first two chase starts but I am not sure that is so relevant any more as trainers know they can’t be too cute these days with such a compressed handicap as they won’t get a run otherwise, as connections of the leading fancy The Romford Pele have just found out who misses the race having been trained for it all season.
Nicky Henderson had been knocking on the door with three runners-up until his top weight won last year and he supplies the top weight again this year in Ericht. In fact, the top weight has won for the last two years. From just seven runners Jonjo O’Neill has gone close twice supplying the runner-up in 2007 and 2009 and he runs Festive Affair and Dursey Sound. Philip Hobbs has trained a winner and a second and runs Persian Snow.
Ericht gets in the short list by virtue of being trained by Nicky Henderson who has a fine record in the race (a win and three seconds), being top weight like the last two winners and a last-time-out winner like four of the last five winners who should start in the top five in the betting like seven of the nine winners and this is his handicap chase debut like six winners. Persian Snow is also a last-time-out winner from a stable with a good record in the race as does Festive Affair for Jonjo O’Neill (two runners-up) and J P McManus (a winner and two seconds) after winning in his third chase start after two defeats and has his handicap debut here. Manyriverstocross should enjoy the hurly burly of the race and ran in Grade 1 races on his last two starts and will run well but he has a habit of placing in big handicaps so is maybe more of an each-way or place-only horse. Therefore Present View gets the final berth after hack1ng up at Kempton last time in the same race Hunt Ball won before he won here and he has point-to-pointing experience to boot plus, being by Presenting, this drying ground will suit. Ohio Gold placed last year and could easily do so again despite being a maiden over fences as they have a good place record. Although he doesn’t meet enough stats to warrant a trends-based short list position, Art Of Logistics is interesting in a first time visor if you read my article on page 4 of my book, especially regards this race.