Race three on the Taunton card is a 2m 7f handicap chase with several interesting horses entered, see our betting tips and the full race preview below.
IN SUMMARY: Stepping up in trip seems the correct move for QUALANDO today and should bring out further improvement from him. A useful hurdler at his best including a win in the 2015 Fred Winter at the Cheltenham Festival, he has been set two difficult tasks thus far over fences and should find this easier on handicap debut. He remains with lots of potential over fences and despite having top weight looks to be the one to beat with Sam Twiston-Davies taking the ride. His main rival is likely to be the progressive Calett Mad who was not disgraced in defeat at Ludlow on his latest start.
1 QUALANDO – Useful hurdler on his day including a win in the 2015 Fred Winter at the Festival, but hasn’t shown his best over fences thus far for Paul Nicholls. He never had the speed to threaten at Cheltenham (2m 3f, Good to Soft) on his chase debut in October and had the same issue at Ascot in November against some useful rivals (2m 2f, Good to Soft). Going up in trip seems the correct move on the back of those two runs and he remains with potential over fences as only a 6 year old. He is ground versatile so there are no problems in that respect and should find this easier on handicap chase debut, so should run a big race under Sam Twiston-Davies.
2 TEMPESTATEFLORESCO – Has run exclusively over fences throughout his career and has a good level of form on offer including a good 2nd at Chepstow on his penultimate start (2m 7f, Good). He isn’t however the most progressive and has been performing at a similar level for a while now for Colin Tizzard. He seems an unlikely winner with improvers in the field and despite his relative consistency and the ground being as he wants it, he is best passed over today.
3 RED DEVIL LADS – Good record of 3-10 over fences, but that last win came in April 2015 at Ffos Las (3m 1f, Good to Soft) and posted three poor runs when last seen over these obstacles. He’s been in and out of form over hurdles this season and the return to good ground doesn’t look a plus as he’s avoided it for most of his career. Still 2lb above his last winning mark and despite a return to his trip being a big plus, he seems an unlikely winner today.
4 CALETT MAD – Lightly raced over hurdles in France before joining Nigel Twiston-Davies and immediately switched to fences, winning on debut at Newcastle (2m 7f, Soft) despite some mistakes. He improved once again to finish 2nd behind Fox Appeal when last seen at Ludlow a few weeks ago (2m 7f, Good to Soft) which was a very creditable effort. Still only 3lb above his winning mark and despite the ground today being an unknown, it should still suit him and he has the inform Daryl Jacob on board to help, so has to be considered a main danger today.
5 ROC D’APSIS – 3-16 over fences and his last win came at Kempton in January 2016 (2m 4f, Soft) in a competitive looking race. He’s not been so good since, with a poor 4th at Hereford on his penultimate start and was always going to struggle in a Listed race at Wincanton in November (3m 1f, Good). He’s back onto his last winning mark as a consequence and a drop back into Class 3 company should be welcome, but there has to be a question mark on the ground as he’s been poor on all his attempts at good ground. Percentage call would be to avoid him today.
6 TINDARO – Has never been the most consistent of horses and now at the age of 10 years old he is certainly not going to be the most progressive either. Last seen over fences with two lacklustre runs at Stratford and Doncaster this season, he now goes markedly up in trip in a bid to recover his form. Currently lying 4lb below his highest winning mark, he is well treated on the best of his form and has conditions to suit today, with this trip far more suitable than what he has been running at of yet. He’d certainly have Each Way claims but hard to see him holding off progressive horses today.
7 TROIKA STEPPES – 12lb above his last winning mark which came at Cheltenham three starts ago in an Amateur Riders’ Handicap where he stayed on much the strongest (3m 1f, Good), and ran another good race over the same C&D a few weeks later when narrowly denied in 2nd. He never looked fully comfortable at Aintree on his latest start (2m 5f, Good to Soft) over an inadequate trip which is a valid excuse and conditions today will suit him much better. Still lightly raced as a 9 year old and was looking progressive before that Aintree blip, so could resume that and has to have claims today.