3.25 2m4f Melling Chase Grade 1 – Politogue 5/2
Had an excellent season last year with 4 wins, 2 in Grade 1 company in the Tingle Creek and winning this race beating short priced fav Min by a neck, he made a winning reappearance in a Grade 2 carrying a penalty in November before tackling the King George on boxing day, he never looked at home over first time 3 miles and was sensibly dropped back in trip but went off without his usual hood, he again was a little under par but had excuses. When last seen last month in the Queen Mother Champion Chase he returned back to his best with the trip, ground and headgear all in place he produced possibly a career best behind the mighty superstar Altior when getting 20 + lengths closer than he did last year. With no Altior in this, he looks head and shoulders above this field even Waiting Patiently who finished in front of him in the Ascot Chase with as mentioned missing the hood, this race will be more suited to Politogue and should reverse the placings to claim back to back victories in this.
4.05 2m5f Topham Handicap Chase Grade 3 – San Benedeto 25/1
Ran a career best when winning the Grade 1 Maghull novice chase here 2 years back, many say he was a fortunate winner when Politogue fell at the last, but putting things in perspective the eventual 2nd Forest Bihan who was motionless and travelling all over Politologue on the flat until getting outjumped by the hard ridden faller at the last was firmly put into place by San Benedeto strong finish through the line, he was rated as high as 155 after that race and returned the season after in good form in defeat behind the likes of Politologue and a eye catching 3 lengths behind superstar Altior in the Celbration Chase recording a career high. He returned this season fairly consistent in some tough races with his mark slipping to a handy mark where he took advantage over a similar trip in a grade 3 handicap at Newbury with the winner winning NTO franking the form, he clearly had lots to spare with a far from clear run and the 7lb rise looks very workable not just on the visual current win but also on past form, he loves this time of year with 7 winners from his 10 career wins coming in the months of March, April and May and jockey Nick Scholfield gets the best out of the gelding with 4 wins on his back which included LTO and his career best novice grade 1 win.
4.40 3m1f Sefton Novice Hurdle Grade 1 – Emitom 4/1
There looks a touch of class from this Warren Greatrex gelding whose a perfect 5 from 5 under rules, twice in 2 mile bumpers and three wins over hurdles, he has plenty of natural speed which he showed in all previous runs and plus showed real grit and tenacity when looking well against it after a big mistake but still scored under a double penalty with 138 rated Tidal Flow a good form marker 8 lengths behind. Trainer Warren Greatrex stated after he’s possibly the best he’s ever trained which is a bold statement with 166 rated Cheltenham World Hurdle winner Cole Harden under his wing, obviously not up to that level yet, but shows you how highly they think of this gelding and a potential star.
5.15 2m1f Bumper Grade 2 – Dewcup 6/1
Very rare to see Ted Walsh travel to the English shores these days and you never see him bring bumpers over, he brought over just the one runner last year and has done the same so far this season when bringing over Any Second Now who romped to victory in the Cheltenham Kim Muir handicap, he aims to double his tally with Dewcup who won on his 2nd start in a bumper at Thurles where he eased to the front taking a wide route covering plenty of ground but won by 3 lengths with plenty in hand, the 2nd Blackhillsofdakota won a listed event NTO boosting the form, Ted Walsh handily books his son top jockey Ruby Walsh who had a great Grade 1 winner with Kemboy yesterday and there looks plenty of pace in the race with Ebony Jewel & Book Of Invasions setting it up for hold up horses like Dewcup.
Russell Blair Racing