We start in the opening maiden on the Salisbury card ran over the mile. One of these took my eye on debut shaping with a great deal of promise.
The horse in question is Past Master for Henry Candy. This colt by Mastercraftsman stayed on strongly in the closing stages on debut at Sandown in a hot maiden and was given a lot to do after missing the break. To get as close as he did suggested there was a race in him somewhere along the line and the step up to a mile should be one that suits. He has more to offer after that debut run. The winner from that maiden, Stormy Antarctic, has since gone on to be victorious in a Conditions race.
Paris Protocol looks the one the bookies will install as favourite. Richard Hannon’s colt has raced twice previously over seven furlongs and shaped like a step up in trip would suit; he gets that here. For me the two maidens he’s ran in haven’t been as strong as the one Past Master raced in. Stargazer has also had two runs for experience. He was well-beaten on debut but stepped up markedly on his second start finishing third to Move Up, who has since won a Nursery. Ryan Moore is in the saddle on this son of Canford Cliffs, so is a player.
Of the debutants then Mawaany is the most interesting. He’s a Teofilo colt and is a half-brother to Kilimanjaro, who has proved himself to be a useful performer. His dam is also a winner over this trip but Sir Michael Stoute’s tend to need the run first.
Past Master (WIN)
A spot of jumping over the fences at Chepstow is the second leg of our patent for this afternoon.
Set List is in the same ownership as smart chaser’s Deputy Dan, second in a Grade 2 Novices Chase, and Puffin Billy. This six-year-old seemed to take a bit time to warm to the task at Worcester but when he was he won it very nicely. After some more schooling he’ll be ready to go for another display. He won a point-to-point over this distance on soft ground, so stamina isn’t an issue. His pedigree shouts a chasing type, so this should suit him down to the ground.
Personally there are stamina doubts over Volcanic, who seems best at around 2m4f/2m5f and no further. This three-mile test could see him falter after disappointing at Cartmel three starts ago when well-beaten. Despite being consistent he may find one or two too good. Nigel Twiston-Davies usually has his ready for the early season, so Ballykan is one that should be respected. A consistent performer, who won well over fences for the first time three weeks ago at Uttoxeter. If ridden prominently again he could set the standard on the back of that performance.
Martin Keighley knows how to train a chaser and won this last year with Creepy, so Mortlestown warrants a mention. He has won two of his three starts over the larger obstacles. His first win was comfortable in a Novices Chase but when last seen he showed his fighting qualities to hold off River Purple. He has a win on heavy ground over this distance in the pointing sphere and the trainer has stated he is more of a winter horse. A 77-day break will have freshened him up and he has claims.
Set List (WIN)
A Class 4 Handicap over a mile is where we have eleven runners set to go to post for our final selection.
La Superba is in magnificent form after completing the hat-trick at Sandown winning with a bit in hand. However the handicapper has put her up by 8lb for that win but the claim of Tom Marquand will take 3lb off meaning she can’t be ruled out.
The one that takes the most interests is Ciao Cielo returning from an absence of 131-days. He has won when relatively fresh in the past after winning on his return from nearly two months off at the beginning of the year. He recorded a career best at Haydock in the first time hood and if fully tuned up for this looks a very strong player at the finish.
Dutch Law was behind Ciao Cielo at Haydock but won on his next start. He was beaten when last seen at Kempton off this mark but the return to turf may see a better effort. The drop in class for Tick The Boxes makes some appeal and if running up to the level of his Wolverhampton sixth where he was beaten by just over 2l may set the standard. This Clive Cox three-year-old now looks well handicapped and 1lb lower than his last win. Italian Beauty comes into this having won four of her last five. She’s a game type and her last two winning distances are narrow ones, so the handicapper may have caught up with her.
Ciao Cielo (E/W)