She is on a roll of late, so it would be wrong not to start with Paul Nicholls’s Antartica De Thaix who now has three straight victories to her name. The sequence started with a comfortable success at Bangor in February, adding a second in a listed race at Huntingdon when coming readily clear of the useful Desert Queen. She posted a career best over fences on her latest start at Wincanton when again jumping brilliantly to make all, winning by an impressive 22 lengths unchallenged. She is now up to a mark of 146, but remains with potential over fences. She could take another leap forward under Sam Twiston-Davies with conditions to suit.
The next horse is down almost a stone in handicap, with Plaisir D’Amour rated 14 pounds inferior to Antartica De Thaix. Well beaten on her first two chasing starts in Britain, she sprung into life with a comfortable success at Wetherby in February and backed that up with a hard fought success at Newbury. Her jumping left a lot to be desired that day and she looked in trouble as early as the fifth before staying on strongly to win a race that she had looked well beaten in by half way. On that basis, she should appreciate this step up in trip and that could see further improvement from her. However, she may need to be kept slightly nearer to the head of affairs by Aidan Coleman here; if that is the case she can come with a late rattle to go away from these up the punishing home straight this afternoon.
The only other horse who is weighted in the 11 stone category along with Antartica De Thaix is Henry Daly’s Briery Belle, although she does currently come with some risks. She won her first two chasing starts in good style, keeping on strongly to beat Desert Queen at Warwick in a listed race for the latest of those which ties her form in with that of Antartica De Thaix to some degree. She was well beaten at Cheltenham in the Dipper Chase on her penultimate when against Whisper so she can perhaps be forgiven that effort, though she was soundly beaten off and made mistakes on the way round. She was struggling from a long way out in the RSA Chase at the Festival when last seen, but that was always going to be a tough task. She should be much happier back down in trip and class, with conditions to suit and perhaps more to give over these obstacles. She is likely to go close and should not be taken lightly.
Ahead of Song Sea by ten lengths on that latest start was Magic Money for Warren Greatrex, who is looking for a hat-trick after wins at both Fontwell and Haydock. Over further at Haydock, she had far too much stamina for her rivals when holding on well. Going back down in trip was no problem for her either when again fending off the challenge of Still Believing to take the Haydock Mares’ Chase Final that day. She was ten lengths ahead of Song Sea that day and, although there is a big pull in the weights as she has been raised eight pounds, she may have more to give over fences after only five starts. Conditions are to suit, though there is a question mark on the trip as she may need further to show her best. She has place claims but she may just be outpaced when it matters.