Rock Gone comes here following a decent reappearance at Plumpton almost three weeks ago. The cobwebs should have been well and truly blown away by that and he should improve for the run. Aidan Coleman replaces Will Kennedy in the saddle this afternoon and this lightly raced eight year old makes what is only his fourth outing since joining the stable.
Olofi has not won a race of any description since 2012, but he has gotten closer to the winner on each start this season. Paddy Brennan knows his mount well and with him riding very much at the top of his game at present, it would be foolish to dismiss their chances. Spice Fair was a fairly talented handicapper on the flat and seems to have carried that fluency with him since going hurdling. Wayne Hutchinson has ridden him twice before and on both occasions they made the frame. The combination certainly look a major threat here and they too command the utmost respect.
Rock Gone is certainly one off the youngest to line up here and that too could well work in his favour. Now that he ought to be fully match fit, he ought to go very well this afternoon.
ROCK GONE (WIN)
Astigos recorded only his second win in forty six starts last time out but the margin of that success is hard to overlook. He destroyed his rivals by almost twenty five lengths that day and he should make another bold bid here. Venetia Williams has had her yard in decent form all season and with him being the only one of these horses to win a race in their last couple of starts, he is taken to build upon it.
Ulis De Vassy makes his first run back in six months. Unlike many of his rivals he has not endured a long tiring season and may well serve it up to them as a result. He has been known to go well fresh in the past and Dan Skelton is likely to have him fully primed. Upsilon Bleu was contesting listed and graded races last season and as a result carries top weight this afternoon. If he can get anywhere near that level again he too rates as a big danger.
Astigos receives weight all around this afternoon and this could prove to be a piece of shrewd placing by his trainer. With soft ground likely to aid his cause it wouldn’t be the biggest of shocks to see this nine year old go in again wearing first time cheekpieces.
Pete The Feat has been a model of consistency so far this term and connections looks set to be rewarded if their veteran can put in another solid round. He was a decent fourth in the North Yorkshire Grand National back in January before showing more determination last time when chasing home Le Reve in a good handicap at Sandown last time. All of The twelve year old’s best form has come over slightly further but a repeat of his last run ought to be good enough to see him go close here.
Shotavodka appears to be the David Pipe first string given that Tom Scudamore is set to ride. The yard specifically target this race and have won it twice in recent seasons with the likes of Soll and Tango Royal. Shotavodka has been given another drop in the weights by the handicapper and he heads a list of possible dangers. Aachen is likely to try and dominate from flag fall and he has been in the form of his life this year. He gets on well with Charlie Deutsch and the combination have solid each way claims yet again.
Aidan Coleman takes the mount for the first time on the Charlie Longsden runner but he should get a good spin out of the wily veteran. Stamina is his forte and he will be staying on when his rivals have long since thrown in the towel. With others like Pineau De Re and Alvarado prepping for the Grand National, today could well prove the day that Pete The Feat gets his moment of glory.
PETE THE FETE (E/W if 9/2+)
SHOTAVODKA (E/W if 9/2+)
Fingertips ran a good race when finding only Diffrent Gravy too strong at Ascot last time. That was only the grey geldings fourth start for David Pipe and he saw off some useful types in that last race including Montdragon, Sirop De Menthe and Debdebdeb. He gets in at the foot of the weights here and Dary Jacob returns to the saddle having partnered him to three of those four career starts so far.
Zeroeshadesofgrey looks the one to beat as he is a multiple course winner here. The most recent of those successes came at this trip just after Christmas. Trevor Whelan gets on well with the Neil King runner and despite the burden of top weight they field looks a bit more compressed now due to the late defections of Bears Affair and Whataknight. Waterclock has made a seemingly worthwhile transition to hurdling for Micky Hammond since leaving Jed O’Keefe last Autumn. He is likely to improve further and can make the frame once again.
Fingertips looks a decent stayer in the making and owner Simon Munir knows the traits of a good horse when he sees one. With him receiving weight from all his rivals this afternoon, it would not be the biggest of shocks to see him bag a second career win.
Saint Charles hasn’t been seen on a racecourse for a little over a year but he is one of the most fascinating competitors in action this afternoon. His form reads particularly well given that in that last race he was beaten just over three lengths by none other than the favourite for The World Hurdle in Thistlecrack. The form of that race received a boost when the likes of Otago Trail and Sirabad also came out to win subsequently.
Gala Ball has done nothing wrong in his two most event starts. Two successes at Wincanton means he comes here in the form of his life and commands respect especially for an in form yard. Wells De Lune came right back to his very best just last week when scoring at Fontwell. This might come a bit quick for him and he is passed over on this occasion.
Saint Charles is certainly housed at the right yard where they are very likely to have unlocked some further improvement from him. Barry Geraghty has partnered up with the lightly raced six year old on two previous occasions and they can finally record a first success together this afternoon.
SAINT CHARLES (WIN)
The Organist may well have lost her unbeaten record at Leicester last time but she still ran well over a trip that was ultimately far too short. It is of little surprise to see her tried at a much more sensible distance this afternoon. The booking of Richard Johnson certainly catches the and they look sure to go well this afternoon.
Yes I Did recorded a third win in her last four starts at Catterick last time. She pulled nine lengths clear of the rest of her field suggesting that there was further improvement to come. She has thrived since changing codes and she looks a more than worthy adversary. Briery Bell promises to stay at least this far and will be there to pick up the pieces should any of the two main protagonists fail to fire.
The Organist has been given just over a month off in order to recover from that latest outing and she can prove how talented she is with a dominant performance this afternoon.
THE ORGANIST (WIN)
Pythagore is an intriguing French raider that has shown his true ability in a Grade two chase and a listed hurdle race back home already this year. A lot of these rivals having their first run back after a significant break and that ought to play right into the hands. Felix De Giles takes the ride on the vastly experienced eleven year old and he can make his journey across the channel all that more worthwhile for his connections.
Ultragold was an impressive winner of his last race when going in by more than twenty lengths at Wincanton. That win will have done him the world of good and another solid effort can be expected today. He has already won at this track in the past and now has the assistance of Paddy Brennan in the saddle. Shutthefrontdoor has been lightly raced since winning the Irish Grand National a couple of seasons ago. He looked on decent terms with himself when chasing home Broxbourne at Aintree back in Novemeber. He does go well fresh and with Barry Geraghty booked to ride, a solid effort looks inevitable and they have a live each way chance.
Pythagore brings a new perspective to this race and can account for some fairly disappointing types including the likes of Little Jon, Art Mauresque and Sametegal.
PYTHAGORE (E/W if 9/2+)
SHUTTHEFRONTDOOR (E/W if 9/2+)
The Last Samuri made only his second start for Kim Bailey when he won at Kempton just after Christmas. He can continue on an upward curve here before being aimed at next months Aintree showpiece. He has won seven races from just twelve starts in total and if going in again here, he would not incur any extra penalty for the race that stops the nation,
The Druids Nephew won at Cheltenham last season and was then also sent to contest the feature event in Liverpool. He was still going incredibly well when coming to grief in the race and that will likely be his next port of call after today. He comes here now fully fit and a big run can be expected.Drop Out Joe has won his last two races with the minimum of fuss and is another with plenty of stamina. He too has place claims here under Richard Johnson.
The Last Samuri is a remarkably consistent type and David Bass ought to know him a bit better now that he takes the reins for the third time in succession. The combination ought to prove tough nuts to crack as they bid for another valuable prize.
THE LAST SAMURI (E/W if 9/2+)