The feature three miles six furlongs handicap chase, sponsored by Brewin Dolphin, looks set to be a hard fought contest on the heavy ground with 13 runners lining up.
Speedsters won’t be the first home in the stamina sapping affair, and those with bags of staying power to last out the marathon trip plus proven form on the ground will come home in front.
Anthony Honeyball has his team in cracking order and As De Fer is an interesting runner off a very light weight. He was second on his seasonal reappearance at Ffos Las last month where he was beaten four lengths over the three mile trip and the slow pace may be to his liking.
Philip Hobbs saddles Woodford County who finished third in the Eider in February and the Midlands National in March. The handicapper has relented a few pounds and Cieran Gethings claims 7lbs.
Jonjo O’Neill won this race three years ago with Arbor Supreme in 2012 at 16-1 and he saddles Auvergnat while Nigel Twiston-Davies saddled Major Malarkey (10-1) to win in 2013. He relies on Sybarite.
A conditional jockeys’ novices’ handicap hurdle begins the first of seven races and with David Dennis flying along in recent weeks, Kings Song will be a popular choice. He was an easy winner at Ludlow 11 days ago where he trounced the field by a wide margin in a novice handicap chase. Back over hurdles today, if he’s on song he should go close with Hill Fort and Arthur’s Queen others to consider.
Shammick Boy is a big price in the Foot Anstey Handicap Chase, but he was travelling well for a long way in the Southern National 19 days ago in a race where just six of the 13 runners finished on the testing ground. Jake Bament takes 10lbs off his back and this step back in trip could be to his benefit. It’s a decent race with several in with a shout including Otago Trail who could be leading the field home.
The two mile novices’ hurdle could prove informative with Philip Hobbs saddling Vieux Lille who has his first start over hurdles having won a bumper in tidy style at Wincanton last month. Mr Mix is also sure to improve for his third at Stratford in October. There are several promising types lining up in a race that is sure to be informative for the remainder of the season.
Never Says Never is bidding for a hat trick in the two mile handicap hurdle. He’s been paying his way this season with a brace of wins – the first at Exeter two weeks ago, and then again at Lingfield on Tuesday. He carries a seven pounds penalty with Harry Cobden’s claim negating that. Sue Gardner, who’s been enjoying a good run of form, saddles Doctor Look Here, second here at the beginning of the month, and Badilou will have improved for his UK debut a month ago.
The Harry Dutfield Memorial Novices’ Chase looks a tight race, with Arkle Trial third Calipto, Golden Doyen and Tea For Two among the runners. The latter is a 153-rated hurdler who counts the Lanzarote among his successes and makes his chasing bow today.