2.05 Chepstow – Buckthorn Timothy
This is the race we’ve had lined up all season for him. We are going into unknown territory with him in terms of the trip. We’ve seen Welsh Nationals like this before where it turns into an absolute slog and it takes a certain type of horse to handle it. He stays all day and if he gets into a nice rhythm then he’s on a nice racing weight and could run a very big race. That said there will probably only be four or five finishers so it’s going to be tough.
The owners are all very excited about having a Welsh National runner, and we’ve run him over hurdles this season specifically to protect his handicap mark because we were always aiming at this race. He’s a homebred horse that has been syndicated out to a group of friends, and they are having a lot of fun with him.
2.45 Chepstow – Battle of Ideas
Battle of Ideas is in great form. He’s grown into a lovely, big horse. I even think the extra week has helped as he’s progressing all the time, and should run a big race in this race. If it wasn’t for the slight unknown about the step up in trip on what will be very testing ground, I would be very confident in his chance.
We are going into unknown territory but based on everything we’ve seen from him it looks as if the trip should be no problem. He doesn’t waste any energy in his races. He should be in second gear for two and a quarter miles and then horses will drop out because they can’t handle it, and he should be able to.
If I didn’t think he could handle the trip and conditions we wouldn’t be running him. He has a lovely racing weight and is in very good form so he should run a massive race. The only thing to bear in mind is that he is still a young horse so of course we might be asking a bit much of him at this stage, but I think he’s ready for it.
3.55 Chepstow – Mount Rushmore
This was a horse we bought at the December Sales at Cheltenham. He won his Point to Point in heavy ground. He seemed a cheap horse for a point to point winner. He’s a good looking chap, he goes up our gallop absolutely fine, but we’re on a massive learning curve with him. We schooled him, and he jumped really nicely, so we were tempted to run him in the maiden hurdle. But there are 15 runners in that race and only 8 in the bumper so we thought we’d take the easier option. We’ll learn a lot about him, and Tom Scudamore who rides him will be able to give us some useful feedback.
2.25 Sandown – The Russian Doyen
We are chucking him in the deep end, there’s no doubt about it, but he’s a horse we’ve held in high regard the whole way through, and the owners were keen to give it a go. He’s won on heavy ground at Exeter last time so will handle the conditions, and we will see where we are with him. In our opinion he’s not far behind all our best novices and so he deserves his chance in this. He can always go back to a smaller track and run in a novice hurdle under a penalty if need be, but let’s go and see where we are against better horses.
3.00 Sandown – Theatrical Star and Third Intention
Third Intention won the Old Roan last year and he is competitive in these Veteran races. He has run well in defeat around Sandown but the handicapper doesn’t make his life easy as he’s still rated 145.
Theatrical Star finished third last year in this race and has no weight. He also runs well around Sandown and it has always been the plan for him to head for this final. It’s amazing how competitive it is. They put up a good pot, get plenty of runners, and it’s a great series for these older horses.
Third Intention and Houblon Des Obeaux have been taking each other on since juvenile days, and they were upsides each other at Sandown six weeks ago, so it’s lovely to see these old horses that have been racing against each other all their careers still taking each other on.
1.40 Wincanton – Cucklington
He’s had a marvellous season so far. He’s better with top weight in a lesser class and last time he was in a 0-125 and he didn’t run so well, although Taunton probably didn’t suit him. He’s back in a 0-105 with top weight, it’s the right race, he’s run well around Wincanton, so he should run well.
3.15 Wincanton – Silverhow
He tripped over himself at the first on his debut for the yard last time, so we’ve done plenty of schooling since, and this looks a nice starting point. It’s all about him having a clear round tomorrow and see where we are with him.
3.45 Wincanton – Waterloo Warrior
We probably ran him too quickly last time. He had been knocking on the door, and running well, but we maybe got a bit greedy with him. So we’ve freshened him up and he’s in good form. Two miles around Wincanton is probably ideal with him, and he’ll handle the ground, but he finds it difficult to win
2.35 Plumpton – Bear Rails
He will love the trip and he’ll love the ground. It’s a competitive race but he’s a consistent horse and he’ll keep galloping, so this could be his Gold Cup. He could run very well in it.
3.10 Plumpton – Bramble Brook
He’s coming back from a wind operation. He’s had a bit of seconditis. He keeps running good races and finding one horse too good each time. He made a bit of a noise last time so we gave him a soft palate operation and he seems in lovely form at home. He’s going to win soon and once he wins I think he’ll get his confidence and go and win two or three. He has a lot of ability and it just hasn’t yet happened for him