These relatively new Veterans’ Chases have become very popular with a hugely valuable final at Sandown early next year.
Sametegal has been a bit unlucky in his career to date with several injuries hence he has only visited the race course on only 25 occasions. He rates the best handicapped horse in the race, but is priced up accordingly so the each-way play against him has to be the Tom George runner, Activial.
The 10-year-old grey has only run 27 times himself (15 chases) but has a cracking record when fresh.
He raced off a career high rating of 151 when close-up in the Ultima Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival two years ago behind Beware The Bear and now finds himself running off a mark of just 142.
If we can garner anything in double figure odds then he is well worthy of an each-way play in this competitive renewal.
Despite the relatively big field for this renewal of the Old Roan Chase I thought that it was short on quality with Nuts Well set to run off a mark of 155.
Crievehill made great strides last season and I suspect he will be given a hugely positive ride to bring his guaranteed stamina into play. But that in turn could play into the hands of Midnight Shadow.
Sue Smith’s charge has a nice pull in the weights with Itchy Feet in Scilly Isles Novice Chase form at Sandown Park and the Midnight Legend gelding has run well at this venue before both over hurdles and fences. He gets the vote over the potentially well handicapped Vision Des Flos who could bounce back from a disappointing season following a wind operation.
Despite a 7lbs penalty, Fairway Freddie is not out of this competitive novices’ handicap chase especially as this quick surface will be in his favour in tandem with the Nick Gifford team in cracking form at the moment.
With Statuario likely to be taken on for the lead up front, the top weight Finalshot looked the bet for Henry Daly.
He reportedly ran a bit flat last time out at Uttoxeter when third of four, but an early mistake may well have been the reason and with Richard Patrick taking 3lbs off here, the seven-year-old is a now back down to 1lb below his last winning mark.
Jobsonfire made great strides at the end of last season winning three on the bounce with his rating rising from 88 to 117 and there could be more to come.
However, it is the Paul Nicholls’ trained youngster that could be the pick of the weights here. He has always been held in some regard at home but never really fulfilled that high ranking last season when he seemed to not to see out his races.
I am hoping a wind operation will have cured that problem and I know that Saint De Reve has been pleasing his in-form trainer at home.
There is a bundle of pace on in this Class 4 handicap hurdle and that could suit the top weight Viva Vittoria trained by Emma Lavelle.
The six-year-old is back down to her last winning handicap mark of 116 and has the added bonus of having a run under her belt when a fair fifth of 14 at Warwick over this intermediate distance. The fact that he has been dropped 1lb is another plus and she can successfully give the weight away to the likes of Fubar and Echo Du Large.
Paul Jacobs’ Sunday selections:
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