Pam Sly has high hopes that Eileendover can maintain her unbeaten record in the Alan Swinbank Mares’ Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race at Market Rasen.
Impressive on her debut at Huntingdon when winning by 29 lengths, the granddaughter of Sly’s 1000 Guineas winner Speciosa then also bolted up under a penalty at Wetherby.
She faces a different calibre of opposition on Saturday – including Willie Mullins’ Grangee – but does get a handy weight allowance as a four-year-old.
“It’s a bit competitive with Mr Mullins coming, but we do get some weight,” said Sly.
“I watched Grangee’s win the other day, and she seemed to come away from the others well enough.
“My filly is in good order. She did pull a shoe off on Thursday, when I was showering her legs, but the farrier came the same day to put another on. These things happen – it’s just not great timing.
“I can’t believe how good she has looked. I never gallop mine at home – they always work together, so it was a bit of a nice surprise on her debut.
“At Wetherby I said to Gina (Andrews) to just get to the two-furlong marker and pick her up, but Gina said she just got to the front and changed gear.
“We’ve been offered plenty of money for her, but my son doesn’t want to sell her – you couldn’t buy one like her.”
Among the opposition, Merry Mistress was impressive on her only run to date – and that form has taken a welcome boost, so trainer Tom Symonds is happy to let her take her chance.
“The ground at Hereford was pretty hard work, but she made light of it,” he said.
“She only ever just does what she has to at home and she goes there with a good chance.
“Obviously she’s giving weight to the younger filly, but she’s definitely worth her chance in a race like this. There’s also Willie Mullins to beat, of course.
“We’ve been very pleased with her since Hereford, and she’s going there in good from.”
Earlier on the card, Nicky Henderson’s On The Blind Side is out again quickly in the MansionBet’s Bet 10 Get 20 Hurdle – having finished second to McFabulous last week.
Dan Skelton runs his Cheltenham Festival winner Mohaayed, who has proven his stamina for this trip of late.
Skelton said: “This is quite a deep race but at the same time a nice race to have on, and congratulations to the track for putting on such an innovative race.
“I’d like to think Mohaayed has a chance. He stays three miles well, and he has won at the track before. There are a couple in there that are higher rated, but our lad is in good form and has been running well all season.”
Neil King’s Lil Rockerfeller will be ridden by Bryony Frost, having just been reeled in at Newbury last time out.
Frost said: “He ran a great race to finish second at Newbury last time off top-weight. He has a huge level of stamina, and always puts up a good battle.
“He has become a strong favourite at Neil King’s yard by running big races year in, year out.
“He is great to hurdle with – he knows exactly how much air to give them.
“The ground will be heavy, which is a concern, but he is in mega form at the yard.”
Colin Tizzard’s Vision Des Flos is another classy sort in the race, and assistant trainer Joe Tizzard said: “This is the ideal race for Vision Des Flos. He has not been the most consistent throughout his career – but when he shows his best form he is good, like when winning the National Spirit and running a blinding race at Punchestown.
“He didn’t take to fences but he seems good at the moment, and this is a race I spotted a while back that I thought would suit him. He is not quite a Stayers’ Hurdle horse, so wherever he goes it will be tough, but this gives a chance to horses like him.”