Mountainous a Welsh wonder
Channel 4 commentator Simon Holt previews the feature action from Sandown and Ffos Las on Saturday.
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Conditions are bound to be testing on Saturday - should any of the turf meetings survive - but heavy ground is meat and drink to Welsh National hero MOUNTAINOUS who is fancied to follow up in the Burns Pet Nutrition West Wales National at Ffos Las.
Richard Lee's stayer caught the eye travelling well throughout Chepstow's big race and then showed a terrific attitude to hold off Hawkes Point by a head.
- 1pt win Mountainous 2.40 Ffos Las at best morning price - improved when winning the Welsh National and will relish the conditions
- 2pts win Whisper 2.05 Ffos Las - improving hurdler for Ffos Las supremo Dai Walters who can get the better of Saphir Du Rheu
- 1pt win Soll 3.35 Sandown - giant nine-year-old loves the course could be hard to live with in these conditions
Up a reasonable 7lb, he looks to have progressed since finishing third to De La Bech at Chepstow in December and, even on disadvantageous weight terms, is fancied to turn the tables with the winner who disappointed next time at Cheltenham.
A bigger threat could be Alfie Spinner, who finished well ahead of De La Bech in that same race at Cheltenham where going down by five lengths to the useful Mendip Express.
The Nick Williams-trained stayer has run well on his last three starts, though it should be borne in mind that he was beaten a long way in this race last year when third behind Carruthers.
On a line through Mendip Express, Bob Ford is another with chances though was subsequently well beaten at Haydock when finishing well behind Sir Du Bearn and Hunters Lodge.
Even off top weight, Junior would have chances on his best form but doesn't look too hearty these days while Soll would be capable of a big run on his sound-jumping win at Sandown last season.
However, he is again declared at Sandown tomorrow and this race is his second preference.
Earlier, there is an intriguing rematch between Saphir Du Rheu and WHISPER in the Burns Pet Nutrition Welsh Champion Hurdle in which the latter gets a 21lb pull for being beaten an easy nine lengths (into third) by the former at Sandown in early December.
Both horses have won since; Saphir Du Rheu followed up in the Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle at Kempton and Whisper scored by seven lengths in a small field at Newbury.
At the weights, with the top weight having gone up a massive 28lb for his last two victories, Whisper must have chances of revenge in the colours of Ffos Las owner Dai Walters and this race is likely to have been his target for some time.
Also in with a shout is Grand Vision, a useful staying novice two seasons ago, who came back to form when second to Uncle Jimmy at Warwick (3m1f) last time though it remains to be seen how he copes with this shorter distance.
Should Sandown get the go ahead, Oscar Whisky - also in the Walters colours - will be the star turn in the Betfred TV Scilly Isles Novices Chase in which it will be a huge surprise if he can't dismiss his two rivals Benvolio and Manyriverstocross.
The Betfred Masters Handicap Chase offers a more attractive betting heat and the aforementioned SOLL could well add to that course victory in similarly testing conditions last March.
The giant nine-year-old again showed his liking for the course - which invariably favours good jumpers - when a close fifth to There's No Panic on unsuitably faster ground in early December and could be hard to live with in these conditions.
In a competitive line-up, the genuine Pete The Feat, progressive novice Ardkilly Witness and the Paul Nicholls-trained Jump City, a fair second to Planet Of Sound at Kempton last time, are others with chances.