Weekend Racing: Olly Murphy can Land Timely Hat-trick at the Midlands Grand National6 min read
The Cheltenham Festival 2018 was an Irish bonanza and, at the time of writing, my performance of the week would be Presenting Percy in the RSA Chase who looked a Gold Cup winner in waiting midweek. His quote of for the 2019 renewal might not be the worst antepost price in the world.
The ground looks sure to be extremely testing for Saturday’s Midlands Grand National from Uttoxeter. West Of The Edge finished runner up in the Eider Chase at Newcastle last time and a 3lbs rise in the handicap is fair but marginal preference is for Back To The Thatch (3.35) who was still travelling strongly when coming down in the Eider as they went out on their final circuit.
The selection is and I would be disappointed if this young progressive chaser did not go close although it was too far out when he departed at Gosforth Park last time to be certain that his stamina is guaranteed for this four-and-a-quarter mile trip.
Big River did us a favour at Kelso last time and that form was franked at Cheltenham on Tuesday when the runner up Shantou Flyer just failed to catch our Festival banker Coo Star Sivola. The Lucinda Russell trained eight-year-old is considered a possible Grand National sort for next season and must go close but I do feel Behind Time (2.25) is potentially very well handicapped and must go close if his jumping holds up.
At the time of writing, it has been a disappointing Festival for Jonjo O’Neill with Forza Milan first beaten in the Pertemps Final when attracting significant market support. That tempers confidence behind Fleminport (3.00) who will get further in time but looks very well treated on his handicap debut.
Present Flight (4.45) didn’t get home over three-and-a-half miles at Ayr last time and drops back in trip by a mile this afternoon. The selection has jumped and travelled like a well-handicapped horse on both starts so far this term and I feel this Scottish raider must go close.
Whiskey In The Jar (5.20) has really impressed in his last couple of starts and should land the hat-trick for Olly Murphy. I think this novice is well treated off a mark of 130 and only carries one 6lbs penalty for his two wins given one was a conditional jockey’s contest.
Back To The Thatch
Whiskey In The Jar
At Kempton, I am loath to desert Vocaliser who has done us a couple of favours this winter but Copain De Claisse (2.05) could give Paul Nicholls a welcome winner after a barren first three days at the Festival. The selection finished third on his chase debut back in November when he travelled well but finished third over 2m 3f. The selection would not want any further rain but he is one to keep on the right side of this spring – if it ever stops raining.
Grapevine won a Jumpers’ Bumper on the all-weather here earlier in the month for Nicky Henderson but I hope Sao (1.30) will be more amenable to restraint than when runner up at Wincanton last month. The selection was a winner in his native France for Guillaume Macaire before joining the Nicholls team at Ditcheat and he is considered potentially smart.
I’m pleased to see Brandon Hill (3.15) drop back in trip having been outstayed over three miles in his last couple of starts here so far this season. The selection is a sound jumper and the hope is that he can get a number of his rivals off the bridle from the front.
Copain De Claisse
Potters Sapphire (1.40) flew from the last at Market Rasen over the minimum trip and trainer Lucy Wadham insisted her mare needed to step back up in trip. The additional five furlongs is a positive in the Fontwell opener although the heavy ground is a slight concern.
Clondaw Westie (2.15) was travelling well when coming down with a circuit to go at Wincanton (3m 1f) last time and I am not concerned that Lawney Hill drops her 7-year-old down in trip this afternoon.