A trappy looking Class 4 handicap, with Lucinda Russell sending out the first two in the betting. The ultra consistent (4 places and 1 win from 8 runs this season) and likely favourite Itstimeforapint was a somewhat fortuitous winner on Boxing Day at Werherby off a mark of 94. He looked booked for second that day until the leader tipped up at the last fence and left him clear. The handicapper still put him up 6lb for that victory and, after going down fighting in his two subsequent runs at Ayr and Catterick, he was put up another 7lb for getting beaten. That now leaves him 14lb above his sole winning mark and he could well be worth taking on now.
His stablemate Blenheim Brook has carried his form equally as well this season in higher grade with a 2nd and two 3rds from his 4 starts. His latest run at Musselburgh was pretty solid, jumping well and leading for much of the race before being swept aside by a talented and progressive Philip Hobbs 6yo who was considered good enough for a Listed contest on his next start. The second home Island Heights nabbed us for a place in the dying strides has since gone on to win a handicap by 21l to give the form an even stronger look.
Blenheim Brook has been dropped 4lb since the start of the season and is now only a pound above his last winning mark when beating the smart stayer Woodford County (3rd to Goonyella in Saturdays Midland National) over this course last April. His only other run at the track was a decent enough 3rd to Bennys Well in this race last season when attempting to carry top weight of 11-12. Given that he reopposes that horse here on 13lb better terms, there’s every reason to suggest he could overturn that form and land this prize.
You’d assume that stable jockey Peter Buchanan would’ve had the choice of rides here seeing as he’s ridden the favourite in 7 of his 12 starts for the yard and I think he’s made the correct choice. He can lead but there are others who may take it up early so a strong gallop looks assured. If it does turn into a severe test of stamina over the trip, that could surely only benefit the selection seeing as he’s won over 3m4f. Most of these have been on the go all season long but with our horse only having had 4 runs since May and a nice 72 day break, he looks primed to run a huge race.