IN SUMMARY: Benvolio and Forgotten Gold have both gained recent wins in good style but the former is on a fairly tough mark now and the latter is not one to rely upon heavily. Preference is for KATKEAU (6/1), who began his chasing career with two wins in late 2015. David Pipe’s 9yo was pulled up in the Midlands National on his latest outing but ran a big race under a big weight on soft ground that day, and his jockey wisely looked after him when he tired in the home straight. The selection’s stablemate, Amigo, probably kicked for home too early in the Kim Muir Chase over C&D at the festival and ran much better than his 18l defeat might suggest. Others to consider are Warden Hill, who has been off for a year but is still lightly raced over fences, and Candide, who ran very well at this meeting last year.
1 Seventh Sky – Made all to land a good prize at Haydock (2m7f, heavy) in December; will be fine on today’s faster ground and is now only 3lb higher but needs to up his game after some disappointing efforts, the most recent when pulled up in the Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster last month.
2 Benvolio – Thorough stayer who emerged from spell in the doldrums when third at Taunton (3m4f, good to soft) last month and built on that performance when drawing clear to score at Newbury (3m2f, good) recently; subsequent 9lb rise might be enough to leave him vulnerable, though.
3 Katkeau – Made excellent start to chasing career in late 2015, winning small-field beginners’ event at Fakenham (3m, good to soft) and Ludlow handicap (3m, soft); disappointed when dropped to 2m3f for next start but ran well for a long way before getting tired over 4m1f in the Midlands National last month and remains one to be interested in.
4 Perfect Candidate – Has run very well here three times this season, most notably when forging clear to score by 8l on New Year’s Day (3m2f, heavy); faster ground no problem and last month’s defeat at the festival shouldn’t be viewed harshly, but current mark demands a new career-best effort.
5 Sire Collonges – All three runs this season have been over the 3m6f cross-country course here; needs to bounce back from a poor performance at the festival but was a creditable second in December and is now 3lb lower than when runner-up in this race last year; dangerous to ignore.
6 Forgotten Gold – Went very close in this race in 2014 and returns here after convincing success in competitive Ascot veterans’ chase (3m, good to soft) 11 days ago; possibly not one to rely upon too heavily but is 2lb well-in under his penalty and needs to be taken very seriously.
7 Warden Hill – 2-4 when switched to chasing last season, with both wins coming in small-field events over 3m; returns from one-year absence in a much stronger race but is expected to be suited by today’s step up in trip and has some scope for improvement; interesting.
8 Amigo – Without a win for three years but was placed off 2lb higher mark in the 2015 Scottish Grand National and ran a big race when fifth in the Kim Muir Chase over C&D at the festival last month (went clear coming down the hill before fading in closing stages); good chance if in similar form today.
9 Candide – Tailed off when returning from absence over hurdles last month but the ground was heavy and some positives can be taken from that performance; 2lb out of the weights today but was miles clear of the third when runner-up on this card last year (3m1f, good); not out of this.
myracing Forecast Prices: 4/1 Forgotten Gold, 5/1 Benvolio, Amigo, 6/1 Katkeau, Warden Hill, 8/1 Perfect Candidate, Sire Collonges, 14/1 Seventh Sky, 16/1 Candide