Championship Play-Off Final: Michael Owen’s View
Trainer Ben Pauling is confident of a big run from Kildisart in next week’s JLT Chase and punters have latched on to the novice chaser who is now 8/1 (from 12s). The race has been farmed by the Irish since its inception in 2011 – won seven of the eight previous renewals – although I feel the prize will stay in Britain on Thursday. Philip Hobbs’ Defi Du Seuil and Colin Tizzard’s Lostintranslation head the market at 3/1.
The Grand Military Gold Cup is the feature race at Sandown this afternoon. Three weeks ago, Carlos Du Fruitier landed the Royal Artillery Gold Cup and he has every chance of following up for the aforementioned Pauling, but the vote goes to Le Reve (3.40) who bounced back to form when winning at Lingfield last time.
Lance Bombardier Jody Sole is an able pilot for the selection having ridden the winner of this prestigious event twice in the last eight years. Only once in the last decade has the winner gone off a bigger price than 9/2 and you can put a line through most of the field. Rathlin Rose was not out of it when coming down in Carlos Du Fruitier’s race last month and the 2017 winner is a threat to all.
Precious Cargo (2.00) made a winning debut for Nicky Henderson at Kempton last month and he is taken to defy a penalty in the opening novice hurdle. The selection is likely to be plying his trade over fences next season, but he is taken to make it two from two since moving to Seven Barrows.
Dan McGrue (3.05) was pulled up on his first start for 400-days at Wincanton last month when he tired quickly over a trip in excess of 2m 5f. He encounters softer ground and a shorter trip this afternoon and is entitled to come on for his belated seasonal reappearance.
Young Wolf found the combination of 2m and good ground against him at Catterick last time and this step back up in trip and softer underfoot conditions will suit. Barry Geraghty takes the ride on recent Plumpton winner Duc De Beauchene (4.45) and I feel a 4lbs rise is fair.
Precious Cargo (2.00) 4/6
Dan McGrue (3.05) 10/1
Duc De Beauchene (4.45) 9/2
Over at Leicester and as long as the ground is no worse than the official description of good then I hope to see Thomas Blossom (2.50) make a winning start for Richard Harper. The selection won his last couple of starts for Ali Stronge back in the autumn and he is only 6lbs higher than when scoring at Hereford when last seen.
Eastlake (4.00) is a former winner of the Topham Chase at Aintree and the teenager looks to be going down the Hunter Chase route with one eye on the Foxhunters’ Chase at Aintree next month. Crack Irish amateur Derek O’Connor takes the ride and the selection has had a wind operation since his last start in November. Likely favourite Ballotin must give 8lbs to the selection and is five years young than the JP McManus owned recommendation.
Thomas Blossom (2.50) 11/2
Eastlake (4.00) 13/8