Three races from Aintree, Four from Wincanton. What’s not to love?
Evan Williams’ The Last Day made Whatswrongwithyou work for it at Ffos Las in a novice chase and is proven on the ground. He sets the standard here. However, Ian Williams’ Solar Impulse ranks the main danger. He raced in France earlier this year on soft ground and slipped the field to win by 20 lengths.
This is a cracker of a race with Venetia Williams’ Cepage having a great record when fresh so that fact he hasn’t run since December is not a concern. His run behind Frodon – who went on to win the Ryanair Chase at the Festival – is strong and he loves soft ground.
Irish import Ridersonthestorm interests me, so keep an eye on the market. He was highly thought of by former trainer Tom Taafe. He’s having his first run for Nigel Twiston-Davis and could hit the places at least.
Skandiburg was beaten a short head at Market Rasen but is among the market leaders here. Rosy World will improve for the step up in trip as her dam was beaten into second in the final of this Pertemps series at Cheltenham years ago. Jacks Last Hope has won his last two and is on the up.
However, Vive Le Roi is the one that catches my eye. A return to the form that saw him win on soft ground at Newbury last November looks good enough to win this contest.
A mares’ handicap hurdle starts the live ITV action at Wincanton and Organdi sets a really good standard but has been clobbered by 11lb by the handicapper for winning at Ludlow. That will make life very difficult.
Kalahari Queen could be well handicapped on her second place over hurdles at Newbury behind Roksana but lacks a recent run. Litterale Ci interests me here as this ground suits and she was second off a similar mark in this last year. I am staying loyal to Organdi though.
Reserve Tank is one of the rising stars of the novice chase division but is an odds-on favourite. He ran ok at Chepstow, but got beaten in his first two races last year so could be better in the second half of the season. If You Say Run gets the sex allowance from her rival and could expose any flaws in the favourite’s armour.
I saw Fusil Raffles schooling this week at Nicky Henderson’s stables and he was electric. They have high hopes for him this season and I want to see him win. His main rival looks to be Grand Sancy, who won a nice race at the track last year and rated as the biggest danger.
Present Man is trying to win this for the third year in a row. He is 4lbs higher this year and that is going to be tough. He loves the track though and this is his Gold Cup as the owners are heavily involved in the racecourse.
Harry Fry’s Just a Sting is good at this time of year but they have reached for the cheek-pieces and that puts me off him. Give Me a Copper ran really well first time out last season, but then disappointed while White Moon would probably have won at the track but for falling late on. He’s had a wind op though and rates as a danger.
The Young Master has actually won this before, but was subsequently disqualified on a technicality. He was in great form last season, but has paid the price by shooting back up the ratings and is now 14lbs higher than when winning at Chepstow on his reappearance last year, but backed that up at Cheltenham. Was a fine second in the end of season Gold Cup at Sandown.
The Young Master has a lot going for him and he gets the nod.
*Prices correct at time of posting