Stage Set For Westend Story At Exeter7 min read
Thursday’s Thyestes Chase at Gowran Park is one of the big handicap chases of the Irish jumps season and Minella Till Dawn and Chef Des Obeaux head the market at 7/1.
On the same card we could see the reappearance of Willie Mullins Benie Des Dieux who would have won the Mares’ Hurdle, but for coming down at the last at Cheltenham back in the spring.
The mare is 6/4 to make amends for last season in the Mares’ contest in March and 8/1 for the Stayers’ Hurdle – and do note she won over an extended three miles at Auteuil when last seen back in May.
Both jumps cards at Exeter and Leicester are subject to 8am inspections this morning, with frost the concern, although both are optimistic that racing will get the green light.
Leicester have had to abandon five of their last eight meetings due to waterlogging and now they have a cold snap to contend with.
Leicester (13.15): Stick With Bill
In the Leicester opener, Stick With Bill (13.15) drops in grade having been outclassed in the Grade 1 Challow Hurdle at Newbury behind Thyme Hill last month.
Harry Whittingham fitted his Ffos Las winner with cheek-pieces for the first time at the Berkshire track, but he doesn’t stick with the headgear today. He gives 6lbs to his five rivals today and three of his rivals are winners between the flags.
Leicester (14.15): Whitehotchillifili
Mystic Dreamer drops back in trip having finished runner up over 2m 3f at Fontwell last time and she would have been the selection on better ground, having beaten Floressa in a Cheltenham Bumper on good ground back in the spring.
On the forecast heavy ground, however, I just prefer Harry Fry’s recent Wincanton winner Whitehotchillifili (14.15) despite having to give 6lbs to four of her five rivals.
The selection did jump out to her right at Wincanton which is a slight concern although I thought she was still going best when her market rivals came down two out when trying to give chase.
Leicester (14.45): Big Difference
Kildisart was a big disappointment for Ben Pauling at Ascot on Saturday but his string are in better form than was the case for the first half of the season, and I hope to see Big Difference (14.45) run a big race in the 2m 6f handicap chase.
The selection was in the process of running a good race at Ludlow – good to soft ground – earlier in the month and there is no question that he would be better served by faster ground, but I am convinced there are races to be won with this 7-year-old over the larger obstacles.
Leicester (15.45): Rizzardo
What’s The Scoop will have his supporters in the two-and-a-half-mile handicap chase, but he is 0-17 and preference is for top-weight Rizzardo (15.45) who gave it a good go from the front when second over an additional quarter of a mile here last time. Sam Twiston-Davies takes over in the saddle.
Exeter (13.30): Westend Story
At Exeter, a market mover for Nicky Henderson’s Dream Du Grand Val would be worth noting on his chase debut but I didn’t think Westend Story (13.30) was given a particularly good ride at Newbury last time, having made his bid for glory too far out.
This drop back in trip will suit and there can be no excuses this afternoon with the Philip Hobbs yard in such good form.
Golden Whisky was very disappointing in a hot race at Ascot last time and this smaller field will suit. He represents a big danger.
Newcastle (17.45): Majestic Sands
At Newcastle, Majestic Sands (17.45) has not seen the track since finishing 14th of 17 in the 6f Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot when he was beaten less than seven lengths.
The selection had previously won at Leicester on his debut over 5f and he reverts to the minimum trip this afternoon.
He is related to an Ascot Gold Cup winner, Trip To Paris, but he obviously shows enough pace at home and he is a fascinating runner for Richard Fahy.