Not a race with any history for us to use to our advantage but we can still use the form statistics of the trainers and jockeys to see if that helps point us toward the serious challengers and with Ben Pauling hitting a one in three strike rate of late it has to be worth a better look at Raven’s Tower (14/1 Each Way) who has a 100% win record here with one run and one victory over two miles in November this year that saw his rating put up another seven pounds. Since then he has finished third to Ultragold who he meets on five pounds better terms for three lengths so in theory there won’t be a lot in it and with the stable in good form (32% strike rate in the last two weeks and a healthy level stakes profit), he is the one we want to be on this afternoon..
Next on our review we may as well stick with Colin Tizzard’s Ultragold (10/1) with the stable in ridiculous form so far all season and getting stronger as they grow and strengthen with more and more top quality horses. As for the horse, the eight-year-old gelding won last time out as mentioned above for his sixth win over fences to though he will need to produce a career best to win here off his new higher rating but who is to say he cannot keep on improving. Unlike some, he has won over this trip and beyond so stamina will not be an issue and he jumps well enough with just the one fall from twenty-five starts and he does look a fairly safe conveyance.
It will come as no great shock to see Champion trainer Paul Nicholls is continuing in fine form and he has a few in here with Orbasa (10/1) perhaps the most interesting of them. Only a relative baby at the age of five he has a lot more room for improvement than most but arrives experienced enough after ten races for wins at Le Lion D’Angers and when the only finisher at Fontwell though his form hasn’t been up to that since with a fourth and two seconds keeping his rating on the high side as he ended last season. Reappearing at Aintree in a Class Two handicap chase he was backed down to 7/2 favourite at the off but never really looked at his best before being pulled up before the last when a long way out of the running. He needs a lot more than that effort to get involved here but is dropped in class this afternoon and could yet go close for a trainer who will have left no stone unturned to sort out any issues he may have been having.
Nicky Henderson is another trainer in among the winners in recent weeks and he has an interesting option in Captain Conan (16/1) who won’t be getting any better at the age of nine but who has won four of his ten races over fences including as a novice off a mark of 152 yet runs this afternoon off just 139, close to a stone lower. Although only sixth when last seen at Punchestown behind Irish Cavalier, that was back in April so he has every right to arrive fresher here and will be dropping in class against lesser rivals this afternoon and may well be worth considering as an each way option once we see the prices on the day.
Meanwhile, ex jockey turned trainer Richard Rowe has an interesting option in Dark Flame (9/1) who has won at the track over hurdles and more interestingly has only had the one run over regulation fences at Sandown where he beat the Nicholls trained More Bucks’ by a very easy eight lengths. As a novice with little experience this would be a very big ask but it seems they think a lot of him at home and there is every chance that he could be very well weighted off a mark of 135 if he turns out to be anywhere near as good as connections hope he will.
Lastly, we are big fans of Harry Fry who is as good as any at placing his horses in the right races and if he feels this race suits Overtown Express (8/1) then no doubt it does. Although a winning point-to-pointer at Charlton Horethorne, he has only had the one run over fences under rules when third to Top Notch at Plumpton, beaten ten and a half lengths but seems sure to improve for that and could be an interesting alternative to the more obvious players.