Just the six renewals of this race so far and only one winning favourite when 7/2 shot Roalco De Farges obliged for the Philip Hobbs yard in 2014. No trainer has doubled up in that time nor jockey and with weights ranging from ten stone to eleven stone elven the past is telling nothing of any use with regard to the future. Cooking (7/1) seems sure to at or near the head of the betting come race day and trainer Gary Moore has moved quickly to snap up Tom Cannon to ride the ten-year-old again this afternoon. He is now looking for a four timer after wins at Lingfield (twice) and then Plumpton, the first of them when trained by Chris Gordon after which he moved stables. Last time out he ran off a high mark of 113 yet shrugged that off with a fourteen length success on heavy going but he has also won on good to firm, good, and even soft ground and it seems that all conditions come alike to the son of King’s Theatre who stays this far and further when needed and won’t be losing through a lack of stamina.
Ian Williams is a trainer who can do little wrong of late with four winners from his last ten runners in the past two weeks for a 40% strike rate and better still, a profit of 13.75 points to level stakes which is not to be sniffed at. He looks likely to be represented by Bodega (10/1) here who sits down near the bottom of the weights and is returning to fences after four races in a row over hurdles this season including a length win at Doncaster in January over three miles plus. His last race over the larger obstacles was almost exactly a year ago at Haydock when sixth to No Duffer but he has won over fences at Stratford even if that was his only victory from seven attempts. Rated a few pounds higher over fences his hurdling exploits are fully understandable but if they do send him here, with his stable in such good form a bold run can still be expected though it seems unlikely to be a winning one.
Polly Gundry was very good in the saddle for those who remember her and is getting more winners all the time now that she has turned her skills and experience to training from her Devon stables. Two winners from just the five runners in the last two weeks matches Ian Williams’ exploits (of 40%) and she has the interesting Dawson City (13/2) entered here after he hacked up by thirty-two lengths on heavy ground at Wincanton a couple of weeks ago (when the leader who looked to have his measure fell three out). Her post race comments made for interesting reading when she told everyone “…….The key is a long enough test for him, which either means running on heavy ground or going more than three miles. It’s been suggested the Scottish National could be a race and that would be a very nice aim. He shouldn’t go up too much for that and if went up above 130 it would be a pain in the bum, but he would get in races like that”, which brought a smile to some faces, though it didn’t influence the handicapper who has put him up to 133 this afternoon which even his trainer seems to think may be a bit too high for him judging on those comments.
Meanwhile, Tom George has already booked stable jockey Adrian Heskin to ride Call Me Vic (8/1) and with the stable in good form with a 14% success rate in the last two weeks and the jockey doing even better with four wins from nineteen rides in the same period (21%) and a nine points level stakes profit, they make a potent combination. The horse is obviously even more important but he arrives in good heart as well having scored at Aintree last time out when seeing off Baileys Concerto by two and a half lengths when keeping on well over the two and a half miles. He has won a novice chase over three miles at Southwell so the distance may not be an issue, but an extra four pounds might be and he looks to have his work cut out for now. Good ground seems to suit him best and as things stand he will get that here giving him every chance of a top three placing perhaps now he is back at his favourite distance.
Lastly for the early race preview and if Killala Quay (7/1) is back to his best as it appears then he may will be thrown in at these weights. Charlie Longsdon has the now yen-year-old in his care who put a run of poor efforts behind him when scoring all be it narrowly last time out over three miles at Doncaster. Despite a run of being pulled up in his previous three races, he was only sent off a 5/1 chance that day after which his trainer explained “Killala Quay lost a shoe on his first run at Chepstow and came back lame so we thought he had broken down. Then at Ascot he hung badly left and he hung again at Sandown. He has also had a wind operation and it is great to see him back….”, yet he runs off just the one pound higher this afternoon which surely gives him every chance if all his problems are behind him.