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AL DANCER is taking his time to find his form this season, but showed a lot more last time out at Sandown Park in a handicap hurdle and, with Thomas Doggrell taking 7lbs of his back, he could well defy top weight in this 3m handicap chase.
There is still a chance that Sam Thomas will keep the grey to hurdles (has now qualified for the Pertemps Final at the Cheltenham Festival), but his handicap mark still looks very workable over the larger obstacles. If he runs, he is the play. If not, I won’t be having a wager in the race.
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With more rain forecast, we should get a good test in this traditional slog without having the hock deep ground associated with this famous staying handicap. The weights have been stretched by the old boy Native River, set to carry the top mark of 166 with another former winner Elegant Escape closest to him in receipt of 10lbs. Scottish National winner Mighty Thunder along with the Irish raider The Big Dog, 2018 runner-up Ramses de Teillee and of course last year’s hero Silver Reprieve are also worthy of a mention.
But, the most interesting runner in my book has to be another entrant from across the Irish Sea in the form of the Jessie Harrington trained seven-year-old DISCORDANTLY.
The selection has endured problems with his jumping so far in his career, but there were promising signs he had ironed out those mistakes with a fair sixth of 16 in the Troytown at Navan on his first start for eight months. Set to race off a 2lbs higher mark and with natural improvement to come, the shape of this race could suit him down to the ground.
The leading players look fairly clear for this ultra-competitive staying handicap chase. Last season’s Grade Two Ten Up novice chase hero Coko Beach is gradually running into form and stepped up on his seasonal debut with a 15-length sixth of 11 behind Smoking Gun in a 3m 5f handicap chase at Fairyhouse, seemingly not quite getting home. This drop back to a bare 3m with a promising young 7lbs conditional on board makes him of each-way interest.
An eye-catching fifth in the extended 2m handicap chase at this meeting last year, A WAVE OF THE SEA confirmed the promise of that form in the Class B Matheson Chase two months later when running down his 20 rivals from the end of the back straight for a last gasp success.
Since then, the five-year-old has successfully made the step up to 3m and still looked to have more left in the locker when a cracking two-and-a-quarter length second in the Munster National at Limerick.
Simon Torrens has struck up a cracking relationship with the youngster, who has to be ridden patiently, and with form figures of 3151 at the Dublin track, the son of Born To Sea is given the vote. He is preferred to the likes of the top weight, Braeside and the Henry de Bromhead-trained Le Musigny. The last named is stepping up to 3m for the first time in his career and gets in off a feather weight here.
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14:10 Chepstow – Al Dancer
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