Man On The Spot previews the ITV live races on Saturday from Ayr and Newbury.
Beware The Bear’s winning run came to end in last month’s National Hunt Chase and he will need to be a smart performer to defy a mark of 148 in this. A similar comment applies to Label Des Obeaux and Laurium has been well beaten when tried in this grade before. Minella On Line was put 11lb for winning easily at Plumpton in a race in which only three finished but Keltus has been taking a more leisurely stroll up the ratings and has every chance on his latest second off this mark at Cheltenham. DELUSIONOFGRANDEUR is a non-nonsense novice who jumps and stays. His only failure so far came in a Grade 2 and he looks well treated on an earlier defeat of the 136-rated Vintage Clouds at Catterick. Irish raider No No Mac is one of only two previous course winners and also has the form to get involved.
Sir Michael Stoute has good record in this and bids for a third straight victory with MIDTERM (NAP). The Classic Trial winner at Sandown last season, HE went close in the Prix Neil at Chantilly later in the year and this return to 1m4f will suit. Chemical Charge won a conditions race at Doncaster on his reappearance when Muntahaa finished third but the latter is expected to reverse running on today’s revised terms but Listed winners Dal Harraild and the unbeaten Crimean Tatar need to improve this year to match the selection. Second Step ran below par when well beaten by Dal Harraild at Newmarket in September and has changed yards subsequently while Dylan Mouth has yet to win outside Italy.
Theinval, placed at Cheltenham and Aintree, was due to line-up in a handicap here yesterday. Oldgrangewood has won three times this season but had his limitations exposed last time at Newbury and has a stiff task on these terms. Flying Angel was back to his best at Aintree earlier this month when beating Cloudy Dream, who had earlier finished second in the Arkle. A repeat of that form would make the Twiston-Davies’ novice hard to beat but he rarely runs two races alike. CLAN DES OBEAUX by-passed the big spring meetings to take in a small race at Exeter, which he won. He gives the impression that there is more to come and it shouldn’t be forgotten that he was backed to beat both Whisper and Top Notch in top-class contests at the start of the year.
With her yard in flying form and today’s main rival stepping up in trip, DABYAH will likely start a short price in this 1000 Guineas trial. She was beaten a length in the Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac at Chantilly in October but had won her first couple of starts over today’s shorter distance. Queen Kindly won the Group 2 Lowther Stakes over 6f at York and Richard Fahey’s filly is a threat if lasting home but the remainder have plenty to find on form, including the Ballydoyle filly Rain Goddess. The latter was behind stablemate Hydrangea on her recent comeback at Leopardstown. Urban Fox found current 1000 Guineas favourite Rhododendron too good in the Fillies Mile at Newmarket in October and Glitter Girl was beaten by subsequent Nell Gywn third Poet’s Vanity in the Oh So Sharp at the same meeting. Promising was narrowly beaten in the Prestige at Goodwood when last in action and may prove best of the rest.
L'Ami Serge is a class act but hasn’t won over hurdles in more than two years and has been raised another 3lb since a narrow defeat in the County Hurdle at Cheltenham. Tommy Silver won easily at Plumpton last week but Bertimont is weighted to reverse the form of an earlier run at Taunton. The former’s stablemate Zubayr is started to look well treated and it would be no surprise to see Ozzie The Oscar make the frame but Imperial Cup winner London Prize is a pound out of the handicap, despite a 7lb rise. Mohaayed will also carry more than his allotted weight but he ran a cracker at Cheltenham for one so inexperienced. WINTER ESCAPE’s recent form ties in closely with a few of these but he’s making just his third appearance of the season and has always been held in high regard. Confidence would increase if the market spoke in his favour but he gets the nod in any case. Chesterfield looks back to his best but has been raised 11lb since Aintree.
DREAM CASTLE made an impressive start when winning a maiden at Doncaster in great style. This is much more of a test for Saeed Bin Suroor’s Frankel colt but he may prove up to the task on his way to the 2000 Guineas. Barney Roy also sports Godolphin colours and he, too, made a good impression when landing a maiden at Haydock in September but a couple of these make more appeal. War Secretary won a Listed race at Dundalk for Aidan O’Brien on his recent comeback while Zainhom was second in a Group 3 over a mile at Newmarket in October and further progress is expected from both. Make Time and Via Serendipity are maiden winners stepping up in class but both are entered in the 2000 Guineas.
Ifandbutwhynot has staged something of a revival lately. The five-year-old Romain De Senam is still at the right end of the handicap but Double W's is now on a career-high mark after winning at Aintree. Simply Ned has been locking horns with the best two-milers in the country over the winter and should find this easier but this is likely to be run at a real clip and that will suit VANITEUX. He stays further but was placed off higher marks over this trip before the turn of the year and the booking of Noel Fehily suggests Nicky Henderson means business today. Apterix has done well over fences but may be aiming a bit high here while Yorkist often promises more than he delivers.
Chelsea Lad was progressive last year and Ryan Moore’s presence will ensure he’s well supported on his first start since May. El Hayem is another unexposed type but he’s also returning from an absence having been gelded in the interim. DONNCHA ran some good races in defeat last year and was beaten less than a length in the Lincoln on his return to action. He finished ahead of Zhui Feng on that occasion and should go close again. George William continued his progress with a recent win at Nottingham but is upped in class along with Fastnet Tempest, though Banksea is capable at this level and Luca Cumani sent out the winner in 2015.
Last year’s winner Vicente is one of three representing Paul Nicholls in this year’s renewal. Nicky Henderson also has a trio of runners and the likely favourite in Premier Bond, a close-up third in last month’s Kim Muir on his handicap debut. Shotgun Paddy was only 10th last year but has been placed in the Betfred Classic and the Eider this season and has stamina in abundance. Connections will be hoping that a visor helps him get his head back in front and he could be overpriced. Southfield Royale keeps attracting market support and will be a threat with a clear round while Missed Approach is following a tried and tested route having been placed last month in the National Hunt Chase. Cogry is getting closer now he’s sorted out his jumping and Al Co won this in 2014 when 5lb higher. TRUSTAN TIMES was an unlucky third that day but pulled up when attempting to gain compensation 12 months later. He’s only raced twice since and also changed stables but Mark Walford appears to have nursed him back to health as he was always travelling strongly when scoring over hurdles at Kelso earlier this month and he’s well handicapped nowadays. Vintage Clouds has the ability to win a nice prize but this is a tough race in which to break his duck over fences. However, he’s an each-way price and so is Dawson City, who may well be suited by this marathon trip, arrives in good form and has travelled up from Devon.