Reaping The Reward travelled sweetly for a long way when third in a hot veterans’ race at Sandown last month and today’s much faster ground may enable a stronger finishing effort. He commands respect but slight preference is for BENBENS, who was behind Reaping The Reward at Sandown but will also be better suited by the quicker surface here and is now only 3lb higher than when a convincing winner at Aintree in October. Triple course winner Night In Milan reverts to chasing on a workable mark and is another with good credentials.
FRENCH OPERA – Posted Sound effort when second at Leicester (2m6f, good) in November and subsequent defeat on heavy ground can be excused, but his stamina for 3m remains unproven and his last win was gained in 2011; others make more appeal.
SAINT ARE – Excellent second to Many Clouds in 2015 Grand National and today’s 3lb higher looks manageable, but he hasn’t fired on all cylinders on either start this season; 3m on good ground may not provide an adequate stamina test today and Aintree is probably his main target.
BENBENS – Needs to get back on track after two moderate runs on slow ground but they both came in hot contests and he’ll probably be better suited by today’s conditions; now only 3lb higher than when scoring in good style at Aintree (3m1f, good) in October and could be the answer.
NIGHT IN MILAN – Won twice here during 2013/14 season (3m/3m2f) and was also successful over hurdles here (3m, good to soft) on latest outing last month, drawing nicely clear to beat 15 rivals; reverts to chasing on a workable mark and has plenty going for him.
GRANDADS HORSE – Boasts an impressive 12-37 career strike-rate but ended last season in poor form and has been beaten about 40l on both starts this winter; on handy mark now, will be suited by today’s ground and has a C&D success to his name, but needs to stage a revival.
REAPING THE REWARD – Doesn’t always find a huge amount for pressure but finished second twice over C&D last year and travelled well for a long way when third in the Veterans’ Final at Sandown (3m, heavy) last month; this race is less competitive and the faster ground is a plus; respected.
SHOTAVODKA – Form of his sixth in a Listed handicap at Newcastle (2m7f, soft) in November worked out well and he’s now 7lb lower, but he looked very tired when unseating rider in a gruelling event on latest outing and reappears just ten days later; cheekpieces the headgear of choice this time.
GODSMEJUDGE – Career highlight when landing 2013 Scottish Grand National but hasn’t tasted victory since then; seemingly back in form when clear second to subsequent Sky Bet Chase winner Ziga Boy over C&D in December but ideally wants a stiffer test of stamina.
BAILEYS CONCERTO – Made excellent progress in 2014, winning seven times, but drew a blank last year and was pulled up over C&D (soft) when last in action; subsequent 74-day break might have done him good and today’s faster ground will suit but others have less to prove; tongue-tie added.
SONOFAGUN – Responded well to refitted cheekpieces when comfortable winner at Huntingdon (2m, soft) on Boxing Day but went up 10lb for that and ran very poorly over 2m4f there last month; 2lb out of the weights as he attempts 3m for the first time and faces a tough assignment.
myracing Forecast Prices: 3/1 Night In Milan, 7/2 Reaping The Reward, 5/1 Godsmejudge, 7/1 Benbens, 8/1 French Opera, 12/1 Grandads Horse, Shotavodka, Baileys Concerto, 16/1 Saint Are, 25/1 Sonofagun