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16:05

Randox Topham Handicap Chase

2m5f (Grand National Course)

The second of the three races over these imperious fences and unlike yesterday it’s the turn of the professionals in what is seen as a warm up for the big one on Saturday.

 

As always the Topham looks as competitive as ever and with thirty declared I’m going to go for a handful of selections.

 

Current favourite Mister Coffey aims to add to the prize money of trainer Nicky Henderson who isn’t far behind Paul Nicholls in the trainers championship. He’s got some solid form in the book over the past twelve months and went well at the festival last month. Sure to make the frame but with three consecutive second placed finishes I worry his eagerness to win has been tempered and with a penchant for putting in the odd iffy jump I’m not convinced the test that these fences provide will suit Henderson’s charge.

 

Another horse who picked up a place at Cheltenham is the ultra-consistent Spiritofthegames. The Dan Skelton trained ten year old is a horse who’s jumping I love and I think it’s a great move by connections to take on the National fences. He often runs well in big fields and tends to put in great performances at the big meetings. He deserves a big race like this and if you can find a bookmaker paying out on 6 or 7 places I’d be more than happy to take him at a big price.

 

Despite Nicky Henderson training the current market leader it’s his other runner Janika that I prefer. Just like the aforementioned Spiritofthegames he’s got really solid jumping and always seems to put in a decent effort in big fields and at the big meetings. Unlike the Skelton runner however he’s tackled these obstacles before. He took part in this exact race back in 2019 and finished a fantastic 4th that day. He’s now carrying a staggering 19lb less than he did that day and despite some poor performances this season if he can produce a similar effort as the one he produced three years ago he should go very close.

 

A horse who’s got a big weight to carry here is Notebook but that doesn’t put me off too much. Perhaps one of the classiest horses in the lineup having competed in either Grade 1 or Grade 2 level in his last thirteen starts. One of those thirteen races saw him destroy Fakir D’oudairies by 12 lengths and that horse is a short priced favourite for the race prior to this one today. He’s not been seen to good effect as of late but now back in handicap company, if he’s anywhere near his best, he could put some of his rivals to shame.

 

My fourth and final selection fell in this years Welsh Grand National and pulled up at Cheltenham so why I hear you cry am I siding with Irish raider Discordantly? Looking through the eight year olds form and all four of his career victories have come between 2m4f and 2m6f. With that in mind you have to wonder why connections persisted to test him over marathon trips and now stepping back down in distance could see a drastic return to form. Has produced great efforts in big runner fields and is worth a look especially if this may have been the seasonal target all along.

SPIRITOFTHEGAMES (E/W)
JANIKA (E/W)
NOTEBOOK (E/W)

DISCORDANTLY (E/W)