Potentially a massive afternoon in store for Gigginstown Stud and jockey Bryan Cooper as stable superstar Don Cossack attempts to shake off his King George fall and get back on the road the to the Cheltenham Gold Cup glory. But the yard look like they may already have at least one horse already in the winner’s enclosure before he even lines up. Figurative trained by Gordon Elliot has improved for every of his runs over hurdles and enters handicap company for the first time today off a mark of just 112. He shaped like a future handicap winner at the very least last time out when being headed close home in the the run in at Limerick over 2m6f. The drop back in trip will be ideal for the six-year-old gelding in the first time blinkers and if they manage to have the desired effect, he will likely prove to be a class above this field so he gets the confident nod.
The main danger is the in-form Rebel Turn who has turned a corner since being switched into handicap company with back to back successes and latest of these was in impressive fashion at Limerick. Whether or not that form is good enough for him to concede six pounds to Figurative and come out on top remains to be seen, but the Burke charge is most likely to strike should the selection fail to fire.
One other interesting contender comes from the Juggernaut combination of Ruby Walsh and Willie Mullins with Tarabiyn, who returns after an absence of 260 days. Something was clearly amiss with the horse when last seen finishing 11th of 25 in a handicap hurdle, but the five-year-old had previously shown flashes of ability so it would be no surprise to see him run a big race at an each way price.
A tight looking contest to start proceedings at Chelmsford, but Derek Shaw’s runner Welliesinthewater may just be the solution to crack the code here. The six-year-old was eye-catching to say the least last time out when only just being collared in the shadow of the post when running a massive race from 1lb out of the handicap over course and distance and his trainer looks to have found a good opportunity to go one better here. The Footstepsinthesand gelding returns today having been lowered another 1lb and with the addition of the first time cheek pieces he looks like a winner-in-waiting for his very capable rider in Apprentice company so he looks the bet of the day.
There are plenty of dangers in the race as last time out winners Black Dave and Dutch Golden Age both line up with their jockey’s claims almost negating both their penalties. The former drops back in trip from 1m2f, when taking advantage of an enterprising ride last time out over 10 furlongs, but he won’t get it all his own way in this field and the shorter trip may then be a hindrance. The Gary Moore charge may be the bigger threat after dead-heating at Kempton over the distance to post a career best, but he still shoulders a 3lb rise even with his jockey’s allowance so the handicapper may just have found a way to halt him for now.
A very competitive little class 6 handicap on the face of it, but the Milton Bradley trained Jazri looks poised for another big run and he could be the answer. The five-year-old gelding accounted for the re-opposing Weld Arab comfortably by 1 & 3/4 lengths over course and distance two runs back, before missing the break and then doing too much too soon last time out. He still ran on to finish a respectable fifth that day and he clearly loves it round here which is a massive advantage at the quirky venue. He looks well in off this sort of mark based on his older form and if he can put his best foot forward today he will go very close indeed at a very attractive looking each way price at the time of writing.
One danger may be the top weight What A Dandy trained by Jim Boyle. He gets the hood back on today suggesting he means business and he has been eased 1lb in the weights after a poor run here over a mile latest. The step back up the way in distance is a plus and his jockey’s seven pound claim will certainly help, but major concerns about a horse who hasn’t had his head in front since 2014 – 12 runs ago.
Another danger is likely to be Mops Angel from the in-form Michael Appleby yard. The five-year-old mare shaped liked this longer trip would suit when a staying on second at Wolverhampton over the extended 1m 1f and so she may pose the biggest threat to the selection in a tight looking race.