Sam’s Adventure digs deep in Eider

Sam’s Adventure provided local trainer Brian Ellison with a popular win in the Vertem Eider Handicap Chase at Newcastle.

North-east native Ellison, who was born on Northumberland Plate day, had already celebrated one big prize this season with his staying chaser, who won the Tommy Whittle at Haydock.

Unusually run in spring-like conditions this season, it certainly made for an enjoyable contest with half a dozen or more still in with a chance turning for home.

Springfield Fox had made the running, tracked by The Dutchman who was still going well when unseating Sean Quinlan just before the final bend.

Cyclop, previous winner Crosspark and Salty Boy were all in with a chance, but it was Sam’s Adventure and Crossley Tender who pulled clear.

Henry Brooke appeared to have done everything right on Sam’s Adventure, but when he got in tight to the last the 15-2 chance appeared to have thrown it away.

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But to his credit Sam’s Adventure battled back and got home by three-quarters of length.

Having shown stamina is not an issue, Sam’s Adventure will have the Grand National as his aim next season – but he will not run again in this campaign.

“I thought we’d lost it at the last, I must admit,” said Ellison.

“Henry actually said it probably helped him as he didn’t want to be in front that long, but he had no option to go when he did.

“He’s been such a good horse for us. That’s his second decent pot this year, he won a decent prize at Uttoxeter last season and also won a valuable bumper at Newbury.

“He didn’t jump hurdles great, but he’s far better over fences, he’s quite clever.

“He won’t run in the Midlands National. He’s on holiday now, he’s done enough this season. The target next year might be the Grand National – if Julie (Martin, joint-owner with her husband, Phil) let’s me!

“He’ll have a nice long break, we’ll start him off about Christmas with the aim of the National, because he’s so laid back it will take him a race to get back into it.”

Ellison came very close to winning the Northumberland Plate in 2016 with Seamour who shot clear but was caught close home by Antiquarium and admitted to having a flashback.

“I could see the other horse still going well, but when we jumped the second-last I thought we’d won. Of course he then blew the last and I thought ‘not again’.

“It’s great for Phil and Julie, though, because one of their other horses, Forest Bihan, was supposed to run today but got injured this morning and that might be it for him, he might not run again.”

Sam’s set for another Adventure at Haydock

Brian Ellison is keen to tackle Saturday’s Peter Marsh Limited Handicap Chase at Haydock with Sam’s Adventure.

Sam’s Adventure won over the same extended three miles and one furlong when claiming last month’s Tommy Whittle Handicap Chase at the track, taking up the lead at the last before going on to score by four lengths.

The nine-year-old triumphed on heavy ground that day and with a wet forecast and possible snow in prospect this week, Ellison is confident his charge will deal with conditions.

He said: “Sam’s Adventure is in good form and the plan is for him to run in the Peter Marsh Chase on Saturday.

“This race has been the target since his last win at Haydock where he was very impressive.

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“He stays the trip and handles testing conditions, so we would be hopeful of a good run.

“It looks a competitive race judging by the entries, but you would expect that and we are looking forward to seeing how he gets on.”

Cap Du Nord also features among 18 entries for the race and he could clash again with the 156-rated Royal Pagaille, who beat him by three and a quarter lengths at Kempton last month.

However, trainer Christian Williams is favouring waiting a week with the eight-year-old and heading to Doncaster instead.

He said: “Cap Du Nord is a possible for the Peter Marsh Chase, but I think the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster is our first preference.

“We entered just in case Royale Pagaille doesn’t turn up at Haydock, but we are leaning towards Doncaster.”

The Peter Marsh is one of four Grade Two heats on Saturday’s card, with the New One Unibet Hurdle set to feature the return of dual Champion Hurdle winner Buveur D’Air.

Only five have been entered for the two-mile heat and Donald McCain could let Navajo Pass, an impressive winner of a Musselburgh handicap on New Year’s Day and fourth in last year’s Triumph Hurdle, take his chance.

He said: “It is very possible that Navajo Pass will run in the New One Unibet Hurdle at Haydock on Saturday.

“We’re very limited really in where we can go with him.

“It looks like being a very competitive race with the likes of Buveur D’Air set to run.

“He ran earlier this month so it is quite a quick turnaround, but there is every possibility that he will run.

“It was a good performance at Musselburgh and hopefully there is still plenty more to come from him.”

Sam’s Adventure earns break after Tommy Whittle triumph

Brian Ellison will ensure Sam’s Adventure has time to recover from his Haydock exertions before choosing the Tommy Whittle winner’s next target.

Pulled up on his seasonal reappearance at Carlisle in early November, Sam’s Adventure then fared only marginally better when a well-beaten fifth at Haydock three weeks later.

However, the eight-year-old showed his true colours on his return to Merseyside for Saturday’s Tommy Whittle Handicap Chase, pulling four lengths clear in the hands of champion jockey Brian Hughes.

Ellison was not present for the win, but said on Monday: “I was delighted with him. He did it well and came back to form.

“He was disappointing at Carlisle, but (jockey) Henry (Brooke) said afterwards he doesn’t like going right-handed. Then at Haydock the next day, a couple of horses fell in front of him, and he just walked over them, and it knocked him right out of contention.”

Sam’s Adventure is in fine shape after the weekend, but Ellison is wary of pressing on again too quickly after such a stamina test in heavy ground.

“I’ve not really got anything in mind for him,” the Malton trainer added.

“He seems to have come out of the race fine, but I wouldn’t run him back in a hurry, because these races take a lot out of them.

“He’s been a good horse for us. He won a nice race at Newcastle over hurdles and won a £40,000 chase at Uttoxeter last year.”

Resurgent Sam’s Adventure takes control in Tommy Whittle

Sam’s Adventure bounced back to form with a strong, staying performance to win the Betfair Tommy Whittle Handicap Chase at Haydock.

After two runs last month, Brian Ellison’s eight-year-old was razor sharp for the feature race on the card – and he duly produced the goods.

There was plenty of drama, however, with several horses failing to finish.

Early leader Roll Again was one, unseating his rider and then sadly having to be put down after injuring his spine in a fall while loose.

Crixus’s Escape and Enqarde also exited the race, while Pop Rockstar was twice badly hampered before finishing last.

Held up out of harm’s way by champion jockey Brian Hughes in the early stages of the near three-and-a-quarter-mile event, Sam’s Adventure (14-1) crept into contention in the straight.

The well-fancied Sojourn hit the front at the third-last, but Sam’s Adventure was biding his time.

Produced by Hughes to lead at the final fence, he galloped on resolutely to take the prize by four lengths from Sojourn.

Salty Boy was two and a quarter lengths further back in third, with Highest Sun another length away in fourth place.

The win completed a 149-1 double for Hughes, following his earlier success on Albert’s Back.

“It’s been a great day now. He had a chance on the best of his form,” said the champion jockey.

“He’s a good jumper, stays well – and although he got beaten the last day, he was interfered with down the back here and did well to stand up.

“He’s a horse Brian (Ellison) fancied coming here today – and he was right.

“He’s a big old lad, and it’s probably taken a couple of runs for him to come to hand.

“Brian and his team had him in great shape coming here today, so it’s no surprise to them anyway. It is to me, but not to them, and it’s great to win a race for (owners) Julie and Phil Martin in Julie’s colours. Brilliant.”

Ellison keen on Avenue’s chance of Cheltenham Gold

Brian Ellison is expecting a bold showing from Windsor Avenue in Saturday’s Caspian Caviar Gold Cup at Cheltenham.

A dual winner in the bumper sphere and over hurdles, the eight-year-old looked an exciting addition to the chasing ranks last season when impressing in his first two starts at Sedgefield and Carlisle.

He subsequently proved no match for Sam Spinner when chasing the hat-trick at Doncaster, and fell in another Grade Two at Haydock.

However, having undergone wind surgery during the summer, Windsor Avenue made a promising start to the new campaign when runner-up to subsequent Ascot winner Imperial Aura in last month’s Colin Parker Memorial Chase at Carlisle.

“He’s come on for Carlisle, I’m really happy with him and the ground doesn’t matter to him,” said Ellison.

“I’ve always thought he was a nice horse. He won his bumpers and novice hurdles and even his hurdles form is quite good – he was second to Rouge Vif one day at Kelso.

“He started off well over fences before things went wrong, but we found out what the problem was and Carlisle was his first run back.

“Looking at the betting, it looks like he’s got a big chance on Saturday.”

Coole Cody on his way to winning the Paddy Power Gold Cup
Coole Cody on his way to winning the Paddy Power Gold Cup (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

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The Evan Williams-trained Coole Cody made much of the running in last month’s Paddy Power Gold Cup – and bids to become only the fourth horse to win the two major handicaps in the same season after Pegwell Bay (1988), Senor El Betrutti (1997) and Exotic Dancer (2006).

“The way I look at it, he’s won his race. I do think we’re guilty in this sport of always looking for the next race, instead of just putting your foot on the ball and saying ‘he’s won a Paddy Power Gold Cup, for goodness sake’,” said Williams.

“As far as I’m concerned, everything after that last day is a bonus. There are a handful of races that have got that little bit of something about them and the Paddy Power is one of those, and we’ve managed to win one.

“Whatever Coole Cody does for the rest of his life, he’ll always have a special place in my heart, that’s for sure.”

Top-weight Master Tommytucker is one of three runners for Paul Nicholls, who is bidding for a record sixth victory in the race.

The Ditcheat handler, who also saddles Saint Sonnet and Southfield Stone, told Betfair: “I’m thrilled by the progress Master Tommytucker has had this season after some frustrating issues with his jumping in the past.

“While he was impressive last time at Haydock and will love the soft ground if it rains, this is the first time he has run in a really competitive race with a big field of runners, but he is ready to do so. He is in top order at the moment.

“I was expecting a big run from Saint Sonnet in the Paddy Power Gold Cup, but he virtually cut out three from home on desperate ground and was a tired horse when he came down at the last fence.

“It looked very much that he either needed the race more than I thought or didn’t get the trip. On better ground on the New Course, I am hoping for much better – wearing a tongue tie for the first time.

“Southfield Stone loves it round Cheltenham. Although he is a big outsider, he is a consistent racehorse and it wouldn’t surprise me one bit to see him outrun his odds.”

Huntsman Son (right) impressed at Wetherby
Huntsman Son (right) impressed at Wetherby (Tim Goode/PA)

Alex Hales has high hopes for Huntsman Son following an impressive Listed success at Wetherby in October.

He said: “I thought he was very impressive at Wetherby and the handicapper thought the same.

“We’ve been very happy with him since. I suppose the only proviso is he wouldn’t want the ground to go too soft.

“He’s come back from Wetherby as good as ever and I’m really looking forward to running him.”

Irish hopes are carried by the Mick Winters-trained Chatham Street Lad. The last Irish challenger to win this prize was Edward O’Grady’s Go Roger Go in 2000.

“He’s in great form, but we could do with a drop of rain for Saturday,” said Winters.

“As long as there is ease in the ground and the horse comes home safe, that is what matters. We are looking forward to the challenge.

“I wouldn’t know all the form, but all the high-profile trainers have horses in it. There appears to be a lot of horses on the way up and maybe some going downhill.

“Our fella is in great form, he has a grand weight and it’s nice to be heading to Cheltenham. If he runs an honourable race, it would be great.”

Al Dancer is a leading contender
Al Dancer is a leading contender (Tim Goode/PA)

Nigel Twiston-Davies’ Paddy Power Gold Cup third Al Dancer, the Venetia Williams-trained Cepage and Romain De Senam from Dan Skelton’s yard are other contenders in a fiercely competitive affair.

Skelton said: “He has got a nice weight and I don’t think the rain will be too much of an issue as it is a fresh track.

“I think he has got a little each-way chance.”

Ellison seeking Caspian Caviar Gold with Windsor Avenue

Brian Ellison is anticipating a big run from Windsor Avenue in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup after the eight-year-old’s encouraging return at Carlisle.

Windsor Avenue began his campaign by finishing a two-and-a-half-length runner-up to the highly-progressive Imperial Aura in the Colin Parker Memorial Intermediate Chase at the start of last month.

He has been allotted an initial weight of 11st 3lb, with Harry Whittington’s Cheltenham Festival winner Simply The Betts and Paul Nicholls’ Master Tommytucker topping the list on 11st 12lb for next week’s big Cheltenham handicap.

Ellison reports Windsor Avenue has benefited from wind surgery, after an early end to his promising novice-chase campaign in January.

The Malton trainer said: “At the moment, Windsor Avenue definitely runs in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup.

“He won his first two chases nicely last season, and then he had a problem with his wind.

“We eventually sorted that over the summer – he had a soft palate hobday – and we were very pleased with what saw at Carlisle for a first run back.”

Cheltenham Festival winner Imperial Aura has since taken his successful sequence to three, with a Grade Two triumph at Ascot, and is being touted as a major contender for next year’s Ryanair Chase.

Windsor Avenue received 4lb from his Carlisle conqueror, and Ellison added: “Overall, I thought the Colin Parker looked a good race – and the form seems to be working out that way, given what the winner did at Ascot.

“That run definitely brought our lad on a bit, and it will be interesting to see how gets on in a handicap. Touch wood, his jumping is great, and he won’t be ridden too far away anyway.

“I will be going there expecting a big run, because I think a lot of him – and always have done.”

Among his potential rivals over two and a half miles on December 12, Evan Williams’ shock Paddy Power Gold Cup winner Coole Cody (10st 12lb) may return in search of a famous double.

Kerry Lee’s mare Happy Diva (11st 4lb) was the 2019 Paddy Power winner, and still in contention when falling two out in defence of her crown last month.

Recent Newbury winners Clondaw Castle (11st 10lb) and Caribean Boy (11st 9lb) are also of obvious note – as are Ascot scorers First Flow (11st 9lb) and Espoir De Guye (11st 5lb).

Ellison sets sights on Greatwood glory with Cormier

Brian Ellison is hoping Cormier can deliver a second slice of Greatwood Hurdle glory for him and owner Dan Gilbert.

Two years ago, Nietzsche got the eyecatching blue-checked colours home in front a neck ahead of subsequent Champion Hurdle third Silver Streak in the big Unibet-sponsored handicap at Cheltenham.

A repeat plan is in the making as Ellison prepares to send promising four-year-old Cormier south from his Malton base, on the back of successive maiden and novice victories, to try to star again at the weekend on Gilbert’s doorstep.

Owner and trainer will be on weather watch first, though, as Ellison warns Cormier does not want a protracted dry spell before the big race on Sunday.

“The plan is to run (in the Greatwood) at the moment,” he said.

“Ideally we’d like a bit of soft ground for him, but that’s the plan.

“He’s definitely a better horse on soft ground.”

Cormier’s CV to date is similar to Nietzsche’s, in that both were active on the Flat before going jumping.

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The 2018 Greatwood winner had a higher rating on the Flat, but Cormier’s improvement over hurdles has been significant.

“He’s won twice and actually never came off the bridle either time,” said Ellison.

“It’s surprised us a bit how good he is, considering he’s only a 50-rated handicapper on the Flat.

“But he’s definitely on the up and improving.

“Whether he’s got the experience at the moment to go in the Greatwood is another thing.”

Cormier will be given an alternative assignment with an entry too in the Sky Bet Supreme Trial Sharp Novices’ Hurdle – but the Greatwood is the preferred prize.

“He’s also going to get entered for the two-mile novice as well,” added Ellison.

“Dan lives there – just over the road from Cheltenham.

“So it’s always been a big thing to have a winner at Cheltenham, and Nietzsche was his first there.

“He’s a good owner who puts a lot of money into it, and is great to train for.”

Ellison may be doubly represented on Sunday – depending how Forest Bihan performs in a gallop at Carlisle on Monday as he prepares for a possible first run in more than a year in the Shloer Cheltenham Chase.

The nine-year-old has been off the track with an injury since winning the Old Roan at Aintree last October, and Ellison is determined not to rush him – with a sound surface very much preferable, in his case.

“He’s going to Carlisle on Monday for a spin, after racing, and we’ll take it after there,” he said.

“(Owner) Phil (Martin) is not in any rush, (but) if the race cuts up we might go there.

“If not, we’ll just wait on something else. If he doesn’t go there, it will be something at the end of the month.

“He’s (still) fast enough for two miles – he’s a pretty quick horse, and he wants nice ground.”

Whatever the final plans for Ellison’s November team at Cheltenham, regular rider Danny Cook will not be in action yet as he continues his recovery from a fractured eye-socket sustained in a fall at Market Rasen last month.

He needed more than 50 stitches to his face, and will need a little longer before he returns.

Ellison can, however, call on champion jockey Brian Hughes for Forest Bihan and perhaps Nietzsche’s Greatwood-winning partner Danny McMenamin for Cormier.

“I think Danny will be another couple of weeks,” he said.

“Brian Hughes rides Forest if he runs. I don’t know yet with Cormier, but I think Danny McMenamin might ride him.”

Mrs Hyde continues swift progression with Wetherby win

Mrs Hyde proved too strong for Grade One-winning mare Verdana Blue in the bet365 Mares’ Hurdle at Wetherby.

Nicky Henderson’s 2018 Christmas Hurdle heroine was the 5-6 favourite to get back on the winning trail, having filled the runner-up spot behind Silver Streak in a Listed event at Kempton a fortnight ago.

Verdana Blue had upwards of 22lb in hand over her six rivals in West Yorkshire on official ratings, but came up short in the rain-softened ground.

The Brian Ellison-trained Mrs Hyde had won on the same Kempton card a couple of weeks ago and was a 6-1 shot to double her Listed tally in the hands of Daryl Jacob.

Verdana Blue loomed up ominously in the home straight, but Mrs Hyde refused to bend on the run-in and saw her off by a neck.

“She’s never stopped improving,” said Ellison.

“When she won at Southwell and Perth during the summer, she made the running, but after she got beat at Market Rasen we decided we’d drop her in and give her a chance. It worked at Kempton and it’s worked again today.

“Daryl said he got to the front a bit early today. The plan was to sit until the last and try to pick the favourite off.

“She’s won on soft ground today and won on good to firm. She’s tough.”

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Brian Ellison was delighted with Mrs Hyde's performance
Brian Ellison was delighted with Mrs Hyde’s performance (Brian Lawless/PA)

Considering future plans, the trainer added: “She’s won four of her last five races now and we might just give her a break.

“I know she’s won twice left-handed now, but I do think she’s better right-handed, so we could go back to Kempton or somewhere like that.”

Sean Bowen delivered Irish raider Hear No Evil with a well-timed challenge to claim the Price Promise At bet365 Handicap Chase.

The 16-1 shot was settled at the rear of the field for much of the three-mile contest, but came home strongly to score by nine and a half lengths from Grange Ranger.

It was a welcome boost for trainer Noel Kelly, who had to withdraw stable star Decor Irlandais from the Grade Two bet365 Hurdle later in the afternoon.

He said: “Decor Irlandais is here, but he pulled off a shoe. It’s a bit frustrating, but at least he didn’t break a tendon or something. It’s only a pulled shoe and it’s not the end of the world.

“We bought this horse (Hear No Evil) out of Dan Skelton’s yard. We said to Sean ‘take your time and if they go too fast, he’ll keeping plugging on’. He gave him a brilliant ride, I thought.”

Skelton’s Ashtown Lad displayed courage and class in equal measure to win a bet365 Novices’ Hurdle run in atrocious conditions.

Narrowly beaten over the course and distance on his previous outing, the 11-10 favourite was sent straight to the lead by Harry Skelton and jumped slickly and travelled strongly, despite the driving rain, on his way to a near three-length verdict.

A sodden Dan Skelton said: “He’s a very nice horse and he has a good attitude, obviously, to go from the front in that weather.

“He’s a chaser really and I always felt like this was a good horse.

“I’m not sure what we’ll do now. I’ll talk to Darren (Yates, owner) and decide.”

Minella For Me after winning at Wetherby
Minella For Me after winning at Wetherby (Ashley Iveson/PA)

Tom George and Johnny Burke combined to claim the bet365 Handicap Chase with 9-1 shot Minella For Me.

Carrying the colours of owner Simon Clarke, whose popular grey Nacarat won the Charlie Hall Chase on this card a decade ago, Minella For Me passed the post with five and a half lengths in hand over 100-30 favourite Guy.

Burke said: “He’s a very honest horse. He used to be quite keen, but he’s grown up a lot and is settling well and jumping well.

“He’s a good, fun horse for his owner Simon, who has been a great supporter of Tom.”

Burke went on to complete a double aboard Jonjo O’Neill’s 4-1 favourite Arrivederci in the concluding bet365 Handicap Hurdle.

Definitly Red heads Ellison’s powerful weekend squad

Brian Ellison has the three best National Hunt horses in his care entered this weekend – with Definitly Red topping the bill in the bet365 Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby.

A previous winner of the Grade Two race in 2018, Definitly Red could only finish fourth behind Ballyoptic 12 months ago.

He was being prepared for a crack at the Grand National last season, which of course never happened, but Ellison feels the long break may have done him some good.

Winning connections with Definitly Red after his Charlie Hall win two years ago
Winning connections with Definitly Red after his Charlie Hall win two years ago (Richard Sellers/PA)

“He’s very well and seems in great form,” said the Malton trainer.

“Because of what happened last spring, he didn’t get to go for the National, so he’s had a good holiday.

“He’s never been a horse we’ve over-raced, though – we’ve always looked after him.”

Definitly Red has been partnered for the majority of his career by Danny Cook – but Henry Brooke will be in the plate on Saturday, with Cook sidelined by an eye injury.

“I spoke to Danny on Monday night, and he’s gutted he can’t ride, but Henry’s ridden him before – so we’re not worried on that score,” said Ellison.

Ellison also has Forest Bihan, last seen beating Kalashnikov in the Old Roan Chase just over a year ago, and Windsor Avenue entered at Carlisle on Sunday.

“Forest Bihan might not go to Carlisle – he might just wait for Cheltenham and the Shloer Chase,” he added.

“There’s a lot of rain forecast at Carlisle, and that wouldn’t suit him.

“Windsor Avenue definitely runs (in the Colin Parker Memorial).

“He’s had his wind looked at since he last ran, his soft palate looked at. His wind was affecting him. He’s been hobdayed, too.

“We had it looked at early on, but we’ve finally had it done. He’s absolutely flying at home and is still unexposed – he’s a very good horse.”

Racing Insights, 7th October 2020

Tuesday's race at Leicester went the way that some of my musings thought they might. Acclaim The Nation did lead with Ainsdale taking over before feeling the toll of added weight on heavy ground. This left the door open for eventual winner Blue de Vega who had a good pace/draw markup on our cards and was hailing from an in-form yard.

Next up is...

Wednesday 7th October

Feature of the Day is the Trainer Statistics report, which is free on Wednesdays to all registered subscribers. Register here if you need to.

And today I'm going take a look at the Trainer Stats report, Course 365 day Year view.  This report give us the option to filter what would otherwise be a very long list and I've always set mine at 15 runs minimum, A/E of at least 1.25 and an IV of 1.50 and upwards.

There's an excellent explanation about A/E & IV right here.

So, if we cut to the report...

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...where the one I'm going to look at is Brian Ellison, who happens the be the only unprofitable one to follow at SP, suggesting more analysis of his Sedgefield runners is needed to avoid the losers. Clicking the show/hide inline button ie...

...reveals two runners to look at...

Danny Cook will ride the 6 yr old gelding Snookered in a 4-runner, Class 4 Novice chase over 2m0.5f, whilst Nathan Moscrop will claim 3lbs aboard a former course and distance winner, the 8 yr old gelding Crackdeloust in a another Class 4 contest, this time in a handicap hurdle over 2m1f.

A quick look at Brian Ellison's 8 Sedgefield winners over the last year shows that all 8 were males sent off at 9/2 or shorter and 6 had ran in the previous 45 days. There's a 5:3 spilt for handicap/non-handicap and a similar spilt for hurdles to chases. Six yr olds are 3 from 5 and October runners are 3 from 4, so plenty of encouragement on the breakdown.

Now to Snookered's race...

We see that Danny Cook is in good form right now and rides plenty of winners here at Sedgefield over the years so lots of positives there, whilst it's interesting to see that Snookered himself has finished 2111 in four visits to this track. His jumping will have to be taken on trust as (a) this is his chasing debut and (b) he hasn't even raced over hurdles for almost 9 months.

The distance record of 4/16 actually includes 3 wins and 2 places from 7 over hurdles at trips of 2m0.5f to 2m1f, so the trip should be ideal for him here today, we'd just want his jumping to hold up.

Now onto Crackdeloust...

..who it's obviously a bit harder to make a case for. And a look at the profiler tab tells us that he's actually won just 2 of 21 starts so far. However, both wins came at Class 4, off higher marks than today, going left-handed and after 3-4 weeks rest and all apply here today. He has one win at this trip, one at this track and one on good ground and all three came together for a course and distance win here back in April 2017.


Two runners who'll probably fare very differently. If Snookered takes to the fences at the first time of asking, plenty of other variables are in his favour and I'd expect him to go well. He's in good hands with Danny Cook and my only other concern other than a first crack at fences is that other statters will cotton and back him down to an artificially low price.

Crackdeloust, on the other hand, isn't as well suited by the task ahead. He ran well for fourth last time out after more than six months off the track, but without intending disrespect, the jockey booking doesn't fill me with confidence, nor does good ground. This lad needs it softer in my opinion, so he's going to have to pray for rain. Based on old ability, he's more than good enough to be involved in the shake-up here, but there are more than a couple I'd rather pick as a winner. That's not to say he couldn't grab a place at double-digit odds, but it's unlikely.