More than three circuits of Plumpton on soft ground will be a stamina test for 7 runners in the stayers chase on Monday afternoon. Read on for our runner by runner race preview as well as our expert tip.
IN SUMMARY: Just the seven runners but hard to completely rule any of them out with ease. Leg Iron is overpriced on his course form with 20/1 available first show and it would be no surprise to see a vast improvement on this season’s form. Henllan Harri has the strongest recent form but he has never been one to trust implicitly so this looks a good opportunity for SWEETTOOTHTOMMY to gain a first success. He has some smart form to his credit, none more so than a twelve length beating of It’saftreebee in a point to point.
1 HOWLONGISAFOOT – Progressive when trained by Paul Nicholls, winning three chases in his first seven starts. He has slipped down to a mark three pounds lower than the first of those wins but is yet to find his stride for Chris Gordon. He fell over the National fences at Aintree in November, looking like his confidence had been dented, making an early mistake at Kempton last time and never travelling after. He has won on soft and up to 2m7f but his better efforts have come at shorter and on a sounder surface.
2 HENLLAN HARRI – Ran his best race for more than a year last time out at Newbury. That was a deeper race than this where the change of headgear back to a visor appeared to work the oracle. He stays this far but his jumping can be sloppy and he has looked a shade quirky in the past. The step back up in trip is sure to suit but he’s a short enough price given he is no good thing to have another going day.
3 LEG IRON – Pulled up in both starts this season but both were in considerably better contests than this. Two of his three wins have come over this C&D on soft and heavy ground so he will relish the prevailing conditions. He is three pounds higher than for the latest of them which by no means handicaps him out of things. Sheena West is a canny trainer and an improved display looks likely, especially if he is able to get an uncontested lead.
4 TALK OF THE SOUTH – Just the one success under rules so far but that was over this trip here on soft ground over hurdles. Despite a point to point win in 2015, he hasn’t looked the most natural over fences over three starts this season, though a second last time was a vast improvement. This mark has proved beyond him in the past and although he will love the ground but with Leg Iron and Henllan Harri looking to push the envelope early, he could be vulnerable on the uphill run for home.
5 ROYAL SALUTE – Has stepped up on his hurdling form this season now that he has gone chasing. A short priced defeat trying to defy a penalty at Ffos Las has been well franked with his conqueror, Twenty Eight Guns, winning again since at Bangor. He tried this trip for the first time at Wincanton when last seen. Although he appeared to stay fine, the level of form shown was not to the standard of his runs at shorter. Connections seem happy to try this trip again with the addition of blinkers interesting.
6 SWEETTOOTHTOMMY – Placed in three of his four point to point starts, it was no surprise to see him do better when finally given more of a test of stamina under rules last time at Taunton. He made our ‘Inside The Notebook’ feature on the back of that given that the ground looked plenty quick enough for him on that occasion. He split Takingrisks and It’safreebee in his last point to point and while it’s dangerous to take that strictly at face value, it does make a mark of 105 look a winnable one. The addition of a first time tongue tie may improve his finishing effort and prove to be the deciding factor.
7 ITOLDYOU – Career highlight came at this track in January 2015 when winning the Sussex National off a mark of 113. A dismal campaign last season saw his mark slip to 100 and with that came a recent return to form. He has ticks in plenty of boxes here with regards to trip, course and ground but he may find something else a little to progressive for his old legs for all that he is very fairly treated at present.