Hunt for a Royale winner

  • By: Ian Ogg
  • Last Updated: February 7 2013, 15:38 GMT

Ian Ogg fancies Shuil Royale to open his account over fences if this afternoon's meeting at Huntingdon survives the inspection.

Sam Twiston-Davies: Teams up with Hunters Lodge

Are Thursday's the new Saturday? Probably not but there really is a terrific day's action ahead with competitive and valuable cards being staged at Clonmel, Doncaster, Huntingdon and Taunton while there's the UAE 1000 Guineas at Meydan and evening fare from Wolver.

Something for everyone surely.

Ruby Walsh is on duty in Ireland and he and Willie Mullins will be hopeful of bagging another hatful of winners while it's interesting to see Richard Johnson head to Huntingdon when he might reasonably have been expected to be at Taunton.

At the Cambridgeshire venue, the useful bumper performer Virginia Ash can reasonably be expected to defy a 7lb rise for landing a touch at Plumpton but I'm not in a rush to go to the funeral having missed the wedding.

The shade of odds-on around the formerly smart Tricky Trickster could look a good bit of business in the Hunter Chase despite a lengthy absence but he's probably best left alone.

A royal winner isn't something that would have gone down well here back in Oliver Cromwell's day but I don't suppose the Lord Protector would have been a big fan of the sport of kings anyway.

Shuil Royale does tickle my fancy though and I think he can get the better of Arbeo et al in the novices' handicap chase.

A decent bumper and useful hurdler, chasing was always likely to be his game and he was in the process of running a big race on his chasing bow when falling.

He proved that he was none the worse for that experience when narrowly losing out to Emperor's Choice (second to Arbeo last time) at Taunton and that form puts him right in the mix.

The better ground is expected to suit and he's been kept ticking over by David Arbuthnot who gave him a spin in a jumpers bumper at the end of last month.

Up at Doncaster, Midnight Oscar caught the eye as Kim Bailey's decent youngster appears to be on a fair mark while there are some potentially smart sorts in the novice hurdles (with that in mind, keep an eye on Taunton's maiden hurdle which has been won by some smart performers of late) but it's another staying handicap chaser that I think is worth an interest.

Hunters Lodge has won twice and finished third twice from his four starts over the larger obstacles and the John Oaksey National Hunt Chase entry looks capable of making further improvement on his return from a winter break.

Fitness is rarely an issue with horses from Nigel Twiston-Davies' Naunton yard and the long straight and emphasis on jumping should play to the strengths of this seven year old who teams up with Sam Twiston-Davies for the first time since winning on his chasing debut.

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