Prestbury Park is going to take one hell of a pounding on Wednesday night and you bet that come Thursday and Friday conditions will be much more testing than on the opening day.
Combine that with the fact that they will be racing on the new course, which is a much deeper test of stamina and you know exactly what to look for on Gold Cup day #lungbursters!
Let’s start with the big one, the Gold Cup (15.30), and even on good to soft ground I have my reservations about the nutter that is Might Bite.
As talented as he is, would he really stay three and a quarter miles on a stiff track?
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Remember he was coming to the end of his tether around Kempton in the King George over three miles…oh and then there’s the factor of his run-out clause halfway up the hill.
My mole in the Nicky Henderson yard tells me that Lord De Boinville will keep his partner to the far side of the track so he can’t see the exit gate, but even that may not be enough to see him swerve the inevitable road to defeat.
Mud, mud glorious mud, that should be our motto on Thursday night! The layers will be falling all over themselves to cut Definitly Red, Edwulf and Native River and I fancy all three.
So, grab those prices now before they take a sharp incline in the betting and combine the trio in cross-forecasts and a tri-cast as well.
Unioniste was Paul Nicholls’ big hope for the Welsh National 15 months ago, but he could never get into the contest and finished 12th behind Native River off a handicap mark of 145.
He has taken like a duck to water to the amateur ranks though and has hacked up in admittedly two poor hunter chases at Wincanton and Fontwell.
However, the biggest factor in his favour in the Foxhunters Chase at 16:10 is the deep test of stamina.
Even accounting for the rather error prone David Maxwell on board, he will be one of only a handful of the 24 runners capable of seeing out the extra two and a half furlongs and he looks great each-way value at 20/1 ahead of the likes of Sir Jack Yeats and Foxrock.
Sire Du Berlais ran a hugely eye-catching second last time out at Fairyhouse and looks ready to strike in the Martin Pipe at 16:50. He could have run in the more competitive Coral Hurdle on Wednesday, but Gordon Elliot has been shrewd about him and this looks easier despite the numbers on show.
Staying on strongly in the closing stages of the Lanzarote, back up the Elliot horse with the unexposed Nicholls’ runner Diese De Bieffes. Off a mark of 137 he looks kindly treated with more left in his locker. Lough Derg Spirit offers us the chance for the tri-cast!
Most of the market leaders in the Grand Annual want much better ground, but I think it is massively interesting that Nicky Henderson has side stepped the likes of the Ryanair and Plate to go for this last chance saloon contest with Le Prezien.
I will grab the 12/1 with both hands on him for this cavalry charge, hoping that he gets into some kind of rhythm and then outstays his rivals up the final climb that he has negotiated so well already this season.
Gumball is the forgotten horse in the Triumph Hurdle at 13:30, but I reckon this is between the super mare Apple’s Shakira and the runaway mare Stormy Ireland. The latter may just set it up for the former.
Mohaayed has been saved for the County Hurdle by Dan Skelton and with Bridget Andrews claiming 3lbs the combination look set for a huge run at double figure odds 14:10, while the Albert Bartlett (14:50) will be a race of the survival of the fittest and that brings Mr Whipped right into the equation along with the underrated Chris’s Dream.