A valuable but tough handicap chase over three and a quarter miles which often provides some good pointers for the Grand National in April and this year the market is headed by the Paul Nicholls trained Warriors Tale (5/1) who is entered elsewhere on the weekend but would have a fair chance if turning up. He finished second beaten a head by Wakanda in the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster last time out and he would have a decent shout on that form. His jumping was sound and it looked a pretty strong renewal of the contest so a two pound rise doesn’t seem unreasonable despite him not winning and he looks sure to run well where he goes.
There are a few of these also entered in the Greatwood Gold Cup and another of those who looks to have a great chance in either is Remilluc (11/2) who has been improving over hurdles hand over fist this season and put in a much more encouraging display over fences last time. He is much lower in the handicap over the larger obstacles having jumped poorly on his first two starts but he was much more polished in that department last time and bumped into a big handicap blot in the shape of third favourite for the Arkle Saint Calvados, who beat him racing off 143 and is now 160. He was beaten nine lengths that day and comfortably but jumped well throughout and looked to be putting it up to the eventual winner at one point which no other horse has done in Britain so far, that was a fair run and with any improvement on that performance he’d be hard to beat especially after running a cracker to finish fifth in the Betfair Hurdle last time.
Harry Fry does really well with his string and has an interesting novice in the shape of Wotzizname (7/1) entered here. He was disappointing when sent off a very well backed favourite for a Cheltenham handicap two starts ago but had previously won easily off a mark of 135 and he bounced back last time to beat the hot favourite Mount Mews who has since run respectably in a Grade 2 behind Black Corton and Ms Parfois. A mark of 140 does not seem too harsh for a young horse who is open to plenty of progression and Doncaster should suit him well, he is pretty unexposed and could prove to be a fair bit better than his current mark so is one to keep an eye on especially if he gets into a rhythm.
Seeyouatmidnight (10/1) was the subject of a quite remarkable gamble in the Betfair Chase last season and ended up being sent off 4/1 against the likes of Coneygree and Cue Card, he is clearly very well thought of and that alone makes him interesting before delving into the form book. The form book creates an equally compelling case for why he may be capable of winning a big one off a mark of 149, he was a close third in the Scottish National off this mark and was a nice second when trying to give lumps of weight to Big River at his favourite track. He has likely been saved for his reappearance this year until after the Grand National weights were released which leaves a definite feeling that connections expect he is a tad better than his current mark which makes him very interesting here.
Sue Smith is a dab hand with staying chasers and has done well with I Just Know (10/1) who was an emphatic winner of the Yorkshire National last time when making all and never looking in any danger of being caught under Sean Quinlan. He seemed to relish a real test of jumping and stamina the last which stands him in good stead for an often gruelling contest like this, he has been hit with a fourteen pound rise by the handicapper which is not overly kind but he looked to have any amount in hand last time and it’s more than possible that he has a bit more in hand off this new mark of 145.
At a massive price one that appeals is the Colin Tizzard trained Sizing Codelco (20/1) who has been a bit below par recently but has some very interesting form from last season. Joe Tizzard nominated this horse as the Tizzard handicap banker for the Festival at a few preview nights but like most of their horse at the Festival he ran well below par, he bounced right back at Aintree however when bolting up in a competitive handicap and followed up with a similar performance at the Punchestown Festival. He rose from 139 to 160 in the handicap courtesy of those two runs and has been disappointing since but is back down to a more workable mark of 154 and the Tizzards are right back in flying form so he may well get right back to his best here in which case he is a classy horse who should go well.