Sandy Beach was a decent winner at this track just over a fortnight ago on what was bottomless ground. Conditions are only marginally better this afternoon and although stepping up in distance, he ought to be capable of producing another solid performance. He has won at distances over much further than this in the past, so ought to have plenty of stamina in reserve. Brendan Powell also regains the ride on the six year old having won on him at Taunton just before Christmas so there are plenty of positives regarding his chances.
Grey Gold has been a model of consistency so far this season and trainer Kerry Lee is having a fantastic year. Ciaran Gethings is a talented youngster and takes off an invaluable five pounds off the original top weight. He is officially the best horse in this race by quite some way and he looks the biggest threat to the selection. Blandfords Gunner was beaten less then a length the last time he wa tried over this trip. Evan Wiliams has his yard in great shape and he too is another with sound place claims.
Sandy Beach is still only a six year old and if putting together a decent round of jumping, he may just have too much speed for his older rivals off his relatively low weight. Whilst this shall take another step forward from Colin Tizzard’s charge, improvement cannot be ruled out and he can go in again.
SANDY BEACH (WIN)
Le Chat D’or now looks to be dangerously well handicapped following a spell in the wilderness and showed his appreciation for rain softened ground when last seen out at Nottingham in November. He likes this track and is a three time winner at this distance so he has plenty in his favour. Paul Mulrennan knows his mount inside out having partnered the eight year old to all bar one of his four career wins.
Treasury Notes has improved with each start on the turf since joining David O’Meara last year. If reacting in a positive way to this much slower surface this afternoon, he commands the utmost respect for a stable that can do little wrong at present. Richard Fahey has won this race a couple of times in it’s recent history and Dawn Mirage makes his first appearance for the team. He has joined from David Wachman’s yard and has to be notebooked no matter what he does today. He has raced on similar ground in Ireland and is capable of playing a part in the closing stages.
Le Chat D’or was far from disgraced on his seasonal reapperance in the Sping Mile at Doncaster last season when chasing home Chatez. If Michael Dods has him primed and raring to go this should prove an ideal pipe opener for this son of One Cool Cat. A decent low draw should enhance his chances further and they have to be considered.
LE CHAT D’OR (E/W if 9/2+)
Russe Blanc loves these stamina sapping contests and was a bit unlucky to barge his way through a fence in the Eider Chase at Newcastle last time. Prior to that he won a Grade 3 handicap at Warwick in the style of an out and out stayer and that will stand him in good stead here. The yard will be confident following their high profile win with Kylemore Lough here yesterday and with Charlie Poste back in the saddle they have to rank highly on any shortlist.
Another Hero is a highly progressive staying type trained by Jonjo O’Neill. He has won seven of his eleven career starts to date and been placed in another three. Whilst this marks a huge rise in class, his trainer has won this race with similar types in the past and with Mark Walsh booked to ride another huge effort can be expected. Gordon Elliot has no fewer than eight horses lining up here so he will be confident that a few can go extremely well. Having landed a major gamble with Cause Of Causes at the Cheltenham Festival just ten days ago, connections will no doubt try to repeat the feat here. Barry Geraghty replaces Jamie Codd in the saddle and they will do well to get involved carrying al that weight.
Russe Blanc is usually a sound jumper and if staying out of harms way, he will be doing all of his best work in the closing stages. There have been many big priced shocks in this race in recent years and another is most likely. Given the year that she has had in the UK, Kerry Lee is taken to land another major prize with this likeable sort.
RUSSE BLANC (E/W if 9/2+)
ANOTHER HERO (E/W if 9/2+)