Cornerstone Lad was once heralded as a future superstar after claiming Grade 1 victories in his hurdling career. With runs in major races at Cheltenham many thought his future looked bright but sadly, since tackling bigger obstacles, he’s failed to deliver. He’s been consistent enough however he’s faltered and hasn’t been able to transfer his hurdles form to chasing. Second last time out showed that the ten-year-old still has some level of ability but despite claiming previous course and distance success he’s likely to come unstuck against younger legs.
MOUNT TEMPEST is the youngest in the five runner lineup and hails from a yard who’s already bagged a winner this week. Representing the powerhouse ownership of Highclere his recent victory at Sandown looks solid enough form. Despite this being in a better grade of race it could be argued it doesn’t seem as strong as the race he’s just won. As a horse who’s starting to deliver on his earlier promise it’d be silly to rule out the Skelton runner.
Top-weight Xcitations is another runner who’s claimed victory already this term and is a type who often puts in a decent round. The one I fear most but likely to find at least one rival too good.
Gunsight Ridge is an interesting type who, if recapturing the form he showed when winning around this time in 2022, would have a very serious chance. That being said, a mammoth 406 day absence is far from ideal and punters looking to reside in his camp would have to take a lot on trust.
Veteran twelve-year-old The Last Day may hail from a yard that’s in red-hot form but a fall when last seen at Ascot doesn’t spark an abundance of enthusiasm. Not the rank outsider many may see him as though after winning the Red Rum Handicap back in 2022 he could have the best chase form on offer. A shadow of his former self it seems and looks as if minor money is his best hope.
MOUNT TEMPEST (WIN)
Despite the burden of top-weight and having only won once in his career I’m hoping the Olly Muprhy trained nine-year-old LORD OF KERAK can turn things around. He’s been knocking on the door of success recently but has found a couple too good. A return to the longer three mile trip looks a wise move from connections and if that sparks further improvement he can return to the winners enclosure.
Val Dancer was an impressive 16 length winner at Leicester last month and aims to claim back to back victories. It’d be foolish to ignore Mel Rowley’s charge but this looks a far more competitive affair than the one he won lately. Wouldn’t be out of the picture but may find a few too good.
Former course winner Shighness hasn’t been at his best this term but now resides off the same mark as he’s won over the smaller obstacles. If Micky Hammond has him prepped for his return to this venue he may do far better than his odds may suggest.
Of the remainder trainer Kerry Lee had a big Saturday success recently and her runners always demand respect in these staying chase contests. Eaton Collina has been ultra-consistent and more prize money looks likely.
Recent winners Tom Cody and Aire Valley Lad should also make any shortlist.
LORD OF KERAK (WIN)