We have another quality renewal of this race in which last year’s winner Gold Present will be a warm order, trained by the increasingly powerful Nicky Henderson and coming into this second time out after a wind operation.
There are plenty in with chances though, many preferring this track over the likes of Cheltenham and many potentially loving this soft ground. In any case, here are the best six in the race as we see it:
Gary Moore’s six-year-old was a good fourth here in a Grade 2 behind Politologue in November though it’s possible in what was a hot race he was rather dragged along by better horses and so back in handicap company he may not be the very best treated horse in the race at the weights.
The three-mile trip is a bit of an unknown too though there is always the potential for that to drag some improvement out of him so overall his profile is pretty sound and he has a chance of making the money at the very least.
Nigel Twiston-Davies’ gelding may well outrun his odds which at the time of writing stand at around the 20/1 mark. Producing a high level of form when fourth to Top Notch last November (the same race in which Benatar was fourth this season) and again in handicap company here last month, his mark of 146 may not be what stops him.
He has had 15 goes now over the larger obstacles though and so we know what to expect, but on a day when plenty will be floundering as the race gets going in earnest this one will keep going for rider Tom Bellamy making him a decent each-way play perhaps.
On the book it’s easy to see why this one is at the top of the market. Having won this race last year (beating Frodon), Nick Henderson’s runner has also had a wind op and opened his season with a good third to Politologue and that line of form is very much what is taking the eye.
Up to now however he has put up his best form when running on ground a little better than this and so attempting to win this off a 5lb higher mark in different conditions will be no cake walk, so all things considered there may just be better value to be had elsewhere. Solid each-way claims though.
The son of Sinndar was second in his reappearance in a good race at Carlisle though has gone up 3lbs for that run. It’s easy to see this horse improving plenty as the season goes on and so on that basis we cannot rule him out here, though he may want better ground to show his very best form and so all things considered he is more of an each-way shout.
Very definitely overpriced; Minella Daddy was well beaten over this course and distance last time out as an 11/4 favourite but had previously shown plenty of improvement over fences including at Ascot and on softer ground.
As long as he can bounce back to the sort of form he showed when running second off a 1lb higher mark in a Listed handicap over C&D in February he must have a serious chance at big odds under Sean Bowen.
You cannot win a race like this on potential alone but nor can you win it based purely on a proven track record. Those who can stay this sort of trip in soft ground and are thought to be getting better and therefore are ahead of their handicap mark are just perfect and in Thomas Patrick we have the ideal candidate.
Having pulled-up at Newbury last time there is always a chance he’s not 100%, but as always we trust the trainer and so if Tom Lacey is happy then so are we. His run at Sandown in November when second to Elegant Escape can be upgraded as so often the pace is unsatisfactory in these four-runner events and so it appears he is capable of comfortably outrunning his mark of 148.
It would be great to see Minella Daddy run a big race at a nice price and all things considered Gold Present is indeed a solid contender, though based on potential versus current handicap mark this THOMAS PATRICK is the one to be on we feel.