This intriguing early season three-mile Grade 3 race features a bunch of horse we will hear so much more from as the campaign develops, so whatever happens make sure you don’t concentrate only on whatever happens to win the race.
There is a clash of progression from last season with good early season form from this year and it’ll be intriguing to see what measures up best.
Adrien Du Pont
Paul Nicholls’ charge fell on his final start at 2m4f back in April during the Scottish Grand National meeting at Ayr but looks just the type to carry on improving this season, especially for a step up in trip to three miles.
He’s not one in this line-up that needs to have the ground very soft which can certainly play to his advantage this time around and so with a clean round of jumping on a sound surface we should see this young chaser start to come of age.
A second to Top Notch in the Oaksey Chase in the spring reads very well now and, despite a less than auspicious start to this campaign at Chepstow, we should see more evidence of what is overall an improving chaser.
A winner of nine of his 29 races overall for well over £160,000 this is not a horse to take lightly in this race, especially given that most of his wins have been achieved when the ground has been better than soft which again should be the case on Saturday.
Geordie Des Champs
The excellent Rebecca Curtis has guided this horse to a 33% strike-rate despite running 3rd and 5th on his last two starts and it would be no surprise whatsoever to see him take another leap forward if fully fit and well to begin this campaign in earnest.
Despite easy small field wins on heavy ground its thought she should appreciate a better surface and so his fine winning ratio could yet be improved in this.
Nigel Twiston-Davies is a man we’re keeping a good eye on in the early weeks of the season and having now taken charge of this horse from Jonjo O’Neill he may have another more than capable soldier to go to war with.
This chap finished last season with two unsuccessful attempts at Cheltenham – a non-runner at the Festival and then an 8th placed finish in the Silver Trophy but before that had risen in the ranks pretty well.
The 9yo won this race last year off a mark of 142 on good ground and is a fair bit better than that now, so coming in this year off 147 in fact looks very good on the books and he may well prove pretty hard to beat.
An 11yo now but one who is in form following his win over this trip at Chepstow recently, though at this stage of his career it would be a brave man who would say with confidence that he can accept a 7lb hike in the weights then go on to a win a Grade 3 just at this point in his career.
Gary Moore’s 8yo gelding is race fit having run an excellent second at Chepstow three weeks ago and has to rank as one of the leading lights in this race.
He is clearly on the upgrade having also finished last campaign with a win at Cheltenham in the Silver Trophy and given a liking for decent ground it would seem his new rating of 149 would not necessarily be enough on its own to stop him at this stage.
Traffic Fluide will be popular in the betting ring no doubt and it’s easy to see why given that he’s race fit and obviously in form, but despite all that we can’t get away from the fact that last year’s winner GO CONQUER is an even better horse now and his new weight is not the thing that will stop him.
King’s Lad and Art Mauresque also rate pretty highly in what is a competitive race for the amount of runners, but sticking with the Twiston-Davies runner on this occasion may just pay off and hopefully at a nice price too.