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With more rain forecast this is going to be a real test at the trip and I fancy that Henry De Bromhead’s CHRIS’S DREAM can gallop his rivals into the heavy going at the Eadestown track. The selection has a cracking strike rate over fences – four from nine – and there is a strong argument to suggest that his best run to date came in the Troytown Chase at Navan, when he treated his 22 rivals with utter disdain.
That run was probably matched by his all the way success in the Grade Two Red Mills Chase at Gowran Park when he once again galloped his rivals into submission. This step up to the highest grade obviously requires more, but I suspect he could have a few of these in trouble by halfway and we know that the lightly raced eight-year-old will keep up the gallop.
Samcro looks sure to have come on for a rather lifeless third behind stablemate Battleoverdoyen (would love to see him aimed at the Champion Chase) at Down Royal, while last year’s winner Min has to be respected, but this is a hugely better renewal. I will actually be having a saver on the complete outsider Tornado Flyer, who has about 8lbs to find with the best of these but will absolutely adore these conditions. He has a track record of 1141 and if Robbie Power gets the fractions wrong here on the main selection, I reckon Tornado Flyer has a big chance of picking up the pieces and hitting the frame at the very least.
This seven-year-old was always going to make up into a better chaser than hurdler (rated 129), and although MAHLERVOUS is still a maiden after four runs over fences, the potential remains. His last run at Sandown Park over 2-and-a-half miles was a cracker, caught close home by the classy Severano (third 6 lengths away). This extra yardage is perfect for the son of Mahler, who looks a galloper pure and simple with a solid jumping technique to boot.
Of his rivals, Mighty Thunder needs to step up again as he bids to follow up his two wins at Hexham, so providing he jumps better than at Carlisle, Elf De Re could pose the most problems. The slower pace over this staying trip will enable him to measure his fences better and he stable comes here in good form.
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Bottom weight, Nakadam, jumped brilliantly and stayed on dourly to win a four-miler at the stiff Hexham track recently, but this really is a different kettle of fish at this sharp Borders’ course where there is no rest bite. The stamina packed gelding is also slightly out of the handicap and in a better race may have to settle for a place at best unless the ground deteriorates appreciably, in which case he would be worth a second look.
However, on good to soft this looks a really cracking opportunity for Rose Dobbin’s charge BIGIRONONHISHIP to successfully defend his Scottish Borders National title. Yes, most of his form has come on deeper ground, but he handles this kind of surface well enough and despite being a nine-year-old he has very little mileage on the clock. This will be his 15th run under rules and only his 12th chase start, with three wins to date in that category.
Of course, off a career high mark of 132 he will almost certainly need a career best effort, but this doesn’t exactly look like a strong in-depth renewal and there is more to come from this strapping gelding.
Of the remainder, I have the most regard for the seven-year-old Classic Escape who survived a bad mistake at the penultimate fence at Southwell to hand out a 13-length beating to Manofthemoment. The handicapper has handed him a mighty 10lbs penalty for that success, but this will only be his fifth start over the larger obstacles.
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