Zero history to go on with this race that appears to be new to the racing calendar, so we may as well start with the trainers at the top of their game and that means we have to start our race preview with the Rebecca Menzies trained Royal Macnab (8/1) who has to carry a pound more than his allotted weight thanks to the presence of Germany Calling at the top of the handicap. Tony Kelly has been booked to ride the nine-year-old for the twenty-third time here so it seems safe to say he knows the horse inside and out, and he will be looking to follow up a course and distance win last time out when he made all the running to hold off Formidableopponent by a neck all out, but his life won’t be as easy now off four pounds higher.
At these weights we have to prefer the chances of Witness In Court (16/1 Each Way) who should be a decent price for trainer Donald McCain. Last time out at Aintree they tried front running tactics with the ten-year-old son of Witness Box and he looked to be going well enough before falling at the ninth at odds of 40/1. If they persevere with the same tactics he may well get a soft lead this afternoon and should find these fences that bit easier to negotiate making him a lot tougher to catch, and at a decent price he has to be worthy of being the selection this afternoon.
Meanwhile, Brian Ellison is having a season to remember and continues among the winners and in Viens Chercher (6/1) he has an interesting challenger who seems sure to go well. He has only had the two runs over fences in this Country starting with a win at Market Rasen over two miles and a furlong in October, and following that with a six length third to Gold Present over this sort of trip at Doncaster when looking a bit one paced once challenged and passed. He will need to do a bit better than that to get involved here but is entitled to improve as a novice, though whether he can beat these more experienced rivals is the big question.
Germany Calling (5/1) carries top weight of eleven stone twelve for trainer Charlie Longsdon as he looks to follow up a win at Doncaster when he put seventeen lengths between himself and his rivals over two miles three furlongs. Sent in to the lead at the second fence and pushed clear from the fourth last, he was heavily eased at the line by jockey Graham Watters but he has still been put up a big eight pounds by the handicapper and will need a new career best to win from his new official rating of 145.
Finally, it will be interesting to see if ITV give as much air time to Dan Skelton as did Channel 4 but if he wins this with Pain Au Chocolat (11/2) then they will have no choice, and after a good twelve length second to Cloudy Dream at Haydock, he should be spot on now. Although he has never won over this far he did look a little one paced that day and is well worth a try at this distance for the second time (he fell at Ayr behind Le Mercurey in April), and could even improve for it.