2.40 2m5f Grade 2 Silver Trophy Handicap Chase – Rene’s Girl 7/2
Hailing from a yard that are flying at present, in the last 2 weeks, trainer Dan Skelton and jockey brother Harry Skelton have teamed up with 11 winners from 33 runners, a huge 33% strike rate, they team up with just the two today and their best chance comes in this, Rene’s Girl who is one of two mares in the field, it’s her first run in handicap company over fences and has a progressive profile, she had a fantastic novice season last year with 3 wins from 5, 2 in listed company, and finished the season a runner up in the group 1 Aintree Manifesto novice chase showing her class in a strong race behind the late Finian’s Oscar and in front of this years highest rated horse Cyrname. This season while not winning in her 3 attempts she’s ran well, arguably would of won a strong listed beating Mr Whitaker on debut before a big mistake at the last costing her and when last seen in late December, she was a runner up to Lady Buttons while giving away 2lbs to future Cheltenham festival mares hurdle group 1 4th and Aintree’s group 3 Red Rum handicap chase runner up while giving weight to her opposite sex boosting Rene’s Girl form, that was the last time we seen her, but not only does Skelton have them ready at anytime, the mare has a great record when fresh and has possibly been aimed for this for a repeat battle with Mister Whitaker. She’ll love the under foot conditions and when last seen strikes me as an improver when upped in trip, while not necessarily up in trip here, the testing course and finish looks like it’ll see her best.
3.00 6f Group 3 Abernant Stakes – Brando 11/8
Loves this course with a perfect 3 from 3 over the Rowley, all 3 are at this meet and he’s the back to back winner in this very race and chasing a hat trick today. He tackles this race fresh just like he has in the past, so obviously thrives and is versatile ground wise. Brando has arguably improved in his advancing years and was unlucky not to add a group 1 to his name last season with 2 runner up spots, one where just half a length away from a bad draw, his form is head and shoulders above these. Trainer Kevin Ryan is in good form as is his usual called upon man Tom Eaves whose won on the back of the geldings last 5 wins.
4.25 3m Class 2 Handicap Hurdle – Thomas Campbell 13/2
Rated 158 only just last year after back to back victories over the Cheltenham old course, has since struggled in some high class races, but has quickly dropped back down the handicap. He had a stint over fences where impressing with a win from 3 starts and behind some top class rivals in the other 2 runs, before returning to hurdles. He ran a good race in defeat on New Years Day at Cheltenham in a Grade 2, he was caught outpaced but stayed on well screaming for further, he got his wish when last seen at Exeter but was a disappointing well backed favourite which prompted an immediate wind operation. The handicapper has dropped him a further 3lb and is now 14lb under last years mark and 4lb under last winning mark which is further helped by claiming jockey Connor Brace 7lbs which theoretically brings him a huge 21lbs below his highest mark last season, the cheek pieces are reapplied and returns to a course he loves and on ground he thrives on, a huge chance if the wind operation has worked.
Russell Blair Racing