With a run under his belt, the Rebecca Curtis trained charge should arrive at the A1 track tight fit and with the promise of further light rain he can take advantage of the majority of his rivals arriving here off the back of a break. By and large a good jumper, I expect amateur rider Peter Bryan to make the most of his partner’s guaranteed stamina and set a solid pace at the head of affairs.
Although he went up 2lbs for that second placing at Ffos Las, Financial Outcome is in real terms 5lbs lower here due to his rider’s claim and makes the most of the weight he receives from the enigmatic Cesar Et Rosalie and unexposed Grange Ranger. The last named also looks as though he will benefit from a thorough test at the trip and could be fairly well treated off a rating of just 115 less his young rider’s seven pound claim.
Stayers’ Hurdle champion Lisnagar Oscar will find it a really tough task giving weight away to his eight rivals in the West Yorkshire Hurdle at 14.45. Next Destination is interesting on his first start for 920 days for Paul Nicholls, while Wholestone is almost guaranteed to be tight fit by connections for this valuable contest and is as consistent a staying hurdler at this level in training.
However, they may all have to take a bow in the direction of ROKSANA. The Skelton charge has only had one chance to race over this trip and on that occasion she was beaten a length and a half by the classy Santini in a grade one hurdle at Aintree. Getting all the allowances, the daughter of Dubai Destination looks the most obvious answer to this historical contest.
This looks a somewhat below par renewal of this Listed handicap hurdle with the mare Malaya in need of a stiffer test of stamina and Kid Commando too short in the betting for my liking. I am going to take a chance on the Tom Lacey runner. Winner of two of his last three starts, this son of Fame and Glory stayed on strongly to defy a mark of 136 at Musselburgh in March and a six pound penalty may not stop him here.
That day Sebastopol travelled like the wrath of god through the race and was always getting on top after the last flight. The biggest danger could come from Hand In There as the Emma Lavelle charge looked badly in need of the sharpener last time out and has been dropped 2lbs by the assessor.
Brewin’upastorm and Cheltenham Festival winner Imperial Aura will be fancied by many to dominate the feature Colin Parker Memorial Intermediate Chase at the Cumbrian track. However, the former looked a far from natural jumper last season, while this looks merely a stepping stone for the latter, possibly to Cheltenham next month.
So the call has to be the Tom George trained Black Op who looked a much safer conveyance over the larger obstacles last season and certainly won’t be inconvenienced by any further rain. The nine-year-old gelding has a good record when fresh and I fancy that a stiff two and a half miles when the mud is flying looks his optimum set-up.
With his stable absolutely flying at the moment I cannot see past Fergal O’Brien’s six-year-old Bathiva in what looks a moderate contest for the grade. Last season, he ended up scooting up some nine lengths clear in a novice handicap chase at Taunton when, apart from the last fence, he jumped like an absolute stag.
Some seven pounds higher here, he looks set to defy that kind of uplift if putting in a similar round of fencing and this could merely be a stepping stone to much better things. The best of his nine rivals could well be top weight I’dliketheoption trained by Jonjo. The nine-year-old may well have found the ground at Plumpton a shade too quick last time out and has been dealt a very kind hand by the handicapper having been dropped a full 5lbs in the weights down to a mark of just 117.
Paul Jacobs’ tips for this weekend’s racing
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