Eight renewals of this race and not one winning favourite so far with Local Hero at 9/2 in 2012 the shortest priced and Palomar (2010) and Rumble Of Thunder (2011) the longest priced at 20/1. As a handicap it seems safe to say there will be plenty in with chances but punters won’t ignore the chances of Red Tornado (11/4) who arrives here looking for his sixth win in a row after victories at Ludlow, Sedgefield, Ludlow (again), and here at market Rasen last time out over course and distance. Moving out of novice company and in to handicap class off a rating of 129 he unsurprisingly found life a little tougher but still pounced late as is his way, leading a furlong out and outing a length and a quarter between himself and nearest challenger Minellaforleisure who was giving the winner a pound. He has been put up another eight pounds for that he will clearly need to improve again but he is only a four-year-old and that is still a possibility with so few miles on the clock though we think he will just make a price for our selection.
Dr Richard Newland has two entered here presumably headed by the lightly weighted Sir Toby (13/2 Each Way), and he has already snapped up Sam Twiston-Davies to ride which is an encouraging sign. Three runs over hurdles have seen a second at Worcester in a maiden hurdle followed by a win over course and distance and another second, this time at Fontwell. That form is obviously a bit short of Red Tornado but he will be receiving fifteen pounds and that could be more than enough to make all the difference and land our bets this afternoon.
Looking for in form trainers and Martin Todhunter fits the bill with a 40% strike rate as we write and he has the more experienced Wisty (8/1) in here looking to follow up his recent Kelso success. Sent off at 13/2 that day in a Class Two handicap hurdle he made all the running that day and drew clear for a very easy seventeen length success off a rating of 116 but the handicapper has hardly smiled on him with a twelve-pound weight rise which seems sure to make sure this afternoon is more of a struggle. That said, if he can get an easy lead early on while the others eyeball each other over the first few hurdles he may take some catching around here and could yet end up as a sensible each way play come race day.
We all know that Nigel Twiston-Davies enjoys readying a raiding party for both here and Perth and he has Thunder Sheik (16/1) entered here as he looks for win number seven on his twenty fourth start. After winning at Haydock and Newbury in March and April he was put up to a new rating of 133 and was then pulled up at Cheltenham before a fifth at Cartmel (beaten thirty-nine lengths), and although dropped three pounds for that and with Ryan Hatch claiming another three pounds, he still looks to need to find a bit more to get involved this afternoon.
To end with Evan William has the interesting Mr Kit Kat (9/1) in here and he is looking for win number three this season form just the four starts. Victories at Sedgefield and Worcester were followed by a second to Instant Karma at Newton Abbot when tiring over two and a quarter miles, but although he should be happier back at this trip he is seven pounds higher than the start of the season and this does look a much more competitive race.