The Durham National over 3m5f is one of the feature races of the season at Sedgefield. Read on for our horse-by-horse race preview and experts’ betting tips.
IN SUMMARY: No prizes for originality here but the obvious one to beat is ROYALE KNIGHT, who has won the last two editions of this race and is currently 1lb lower than when an excellent fourth in the Scottish Grand National in April. At bigger odds, it’s worth considering Not A Bother Boy, who needs to bounce back from a disappointing reappearance run over hurdles this month but progressed well last season, is suited by this track and might have been targeted at this race by Sue Smith. Stablemates Five In A Row and Jac The Legend both finished second in valuable series finals on the same day at Haydock in March and can also go well. Ready Token bids for a hat-trick but the Warwick race he won on his latest outing was not particularly strong, and he’ll need to improve again to land this prize.
1 Royale Knight – Won this race in 2014 and 2015, and was an excellent fourth off mark 1lb higher than today’s in the Scottish Grand National at Ayr (4m, good to soft) in April; will be suited by today’s ground and this month’s spin over hurdles ought to have set him up for a bold defence of his crown.
2 Shotavodka – Came from off the pace to gain easy success in veterans’ chase at Newbury (3m2f, good to soft) in March but may have been flattered by the way that race panned out and was hit quite hard by the handicapper; could have untapped potential over marathon trips but others appeal more.
3 Five In A Row – Still quite lightly raced over fences and ended last season with very creditable second in valuable series final at Haydock (2m4f, good); 1lb lower here and the style of his 2m7f hurdle win on the stiff track at Hexham a year ago suggests he could be suited by today’s trip; considered.
4 Ready Token – Made all at Warwick (3m, good) after break last month and now bids to complete at hat-trick; this longer trip could unlock further improvement but today’s race looks more competitive and his revised mark probably leaves him vulnerable.
5 Wiesentraum – Often runs well at Fakenham but failed to justify market support when struggling after one-year absence there recently; too well handicapped to rule out and certainly worth another crack at a marathon trip, but it’s hard to predict whether he’ll stage a revival today.
6 Buachaill Alainn – Not beaten far when fifth after break at Chepstow (2m7f, good) this month and will probably be better suited by today’s longer trip but often races very lazily and it’s difficult to gauge the extent to which he’ll warm to the task here; blinkers the headgear of choice today.
7 Jennys Surprise – Won two military riders’ races at Sandown (both 3m, soft) in February/March but the form is not particularly strong and she struggled in a handicap when last seen in April; completely unexposed over marathon trips but probably needs to improve.
8 Jac The Legend – Runner-up four consecutive times in January-March last season, most recently when swapping cheekpieces for first-time blinkers in valuable series final at Haydock (3m, good); won a 3m3f hurdle here a year ago and goes on the shortlist.
9 Not A Bother Boy – Completed slow-ground hat-trick in late 2015 and posted a new career-best performance when close second here (3m2f, good to soft) in January; made disappointing return to action over hurdles this month but not out of this if back on song.
myracing Forecast Prices: 11/4 Royale Knight, 5/1 Five In A Row, Ready Token, 6/1 Jac The Legend, 7/1 Shotavodka, 10/1 Buachaill Alainn, Not A Bother Boy, 12/1 Jennys Surprise, 16/1 Wiesentraum