Last year’s Scottish National winner Vicente, recently bought privately by Trevor Hemmings, has been the best-backed horse in recent days for the Grand National and was cut from 20s from 33/1 at BetVictor for the Aintree spectacular.
The entries, but not weights, came out yesterday for the Topham Chase on Ladies Day and at first glance, my two against the field would be Stellar Notion for Ireland and Warrior’s Tale representing Paul Nicholls. I presented the champion trainer with the prize after Warrior’s Tale jumped superbly to win a BetVictor sponsored race at Newbury earlier in the month and we both nominated the Topham as his next port of call.
At Ludlow this afternoon Kerry Lee looks to have found a gilt-edged opportunity for Gino Trail (3.05) to pick up another valuable prize. The 10-year-old has run consistently well all season and is a class apart from his three rivals.
Taws (3.40) didn’t get home over three miles at Doncaster last time and will appreciate stepping back in trip. The form of her second, beaten less than five lengths, at Exeter to Finians Oscar is good form in the context of this race and she may have most to fear from Dan Skelton’s dual winning pointer Whatduhavetoget.
It should be noted that Whatduhavtoget finished eighteen lengths clear of Henderson’s hurdling newcomer Big Robin in a point-to-point back in her native Ireland last February.
There is plenty of pace in the Hunter Chase and the hope is that Galway Jack (4.40) can land his hat-trick having scored at both Wetherby and Leicester last month. The selection came home clear last time under today’s amateur pilot and a repeat show would make him very hard to beat as long as his jockey gets his fractions right.
Secret Door (5.15) has been off the track for the best part of 12 months but leading connections have persevered with the lightly-raced maiden who has bits of form which suggest she should be capable of defying her current mark although she will get further in time. First time out may be the time to catch her and she can make the most of the 13lbs she receives from Favorite Girl who has won her lost couple of starts on the level at Wolverhampton for Michael Appleby.
There is a late start at Cork and I expect to see Bonbon Au Miel (3.30) improve for his reappearance when he finished runner up to the admirable and evergreen Hidden Cyclone at Leopardstown. The selection had not set foot on a racecourse since winning in the French provinces back in September 2014 but he showed he possesses plenty of ability last time and he is taken to beat former Cheltenham Festival winner Flaxen Flare who, himself, is returning from a 689-day absence.
Fiesole (4.05) looked an unlucky loser when coming down at the last at Thurles earlier in the month and he is taken to make amends off a 1lb higher mark with leading conditional Donagh Meyler again in the saddle.
Back Bar (6.10) is unlikely to make up into one of Gordon Elliot’s stable stars but he travelled supremely well at Thurles last time in his first bumper start and can go one better with that initial rules experience under his belt. The selection should have won a point when coming down at the last on his penultimate start and was well backed when failing to land the gamble at Thurles.
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