Ramses De Teillee will attempt to go one better than 12 months ago when the veterans get the chance to shine at Warwick on Saturday.
The Unibet Veterans’ Handicap Chase was the headline attraction on last weekend’s abandoned Sandown card, but all is not lost for some of the sport’s most popular warriors, with the race rerouted to the Midlands with a first-prize of £38,580 on offer.
David Pipe claimed the first ever running of this event with Soll in 2016 and came close to adding to his tally 12 months ago as Ramses De Teillee failed to reel in Mel Rowley’s shock scorer Wishing And Hoping.
Correcting the record has been top of the agenda ever since and having been kept fresh for the contest, a stroke of fortune sees the race take place at a venue where the gallant grey has impressed in the past.
“It’s great that they have rescheduled it and it is a very popular race,” said Pipe.
“This has been the plan all season and he’s in good form and won round Warwick last year so we know he handles the track.
“He goes well fresh which is a positive and we’re looking forward to it. It would be lovely if he could go one better this year and he’s in flying form at home.”
There is a stacked field of 14 heading to the start of this three-mile event but none arrive in better form than Nigel Twiston-Davies’ Good Boy Bobby, who pounced late to prevail against Aye Right at Chepstow before adding to his tally at Sandown.
Now owned by Dash Grange Stud, the 11-year-old will bid for a hat-trick in first-time cheekpieces which connections hope will help him negotiate the early stages of the contest.
“Bobby has been brilliant this year and this has been the target since Jayne McGivern (of Dash Grange Stud) bought him and kindly sent him back to us,” said Willy Twiston-Davies, assistant to his father.
“He’s wearing cheekpieces because it is going to be a bigger field and a lot more competitive than his last two, so hopefully it will help him get a good start and travel over the first few.
“He looks in very, very good form at home and the track and trip will be perfect and we’re expecting another bold bid.”
Venetia Williams’ Cepage and Olly Murphy’s Thomas Darby both arrive having tasted victory in their most recent outing.
The latter, who was fourth in the Chepstow event won by Good Boy Bobby on his return, took a good step forward to deny the reopposing Mill Green over track and trip and possesses a touch of class that could see him thrive even at this late stage of his career.
“He’s in good form and this has been the race we have targeted ever since he won at Warwick the last day and we’re looking forward to running him,” said Murphy.
“He has course-and-distance form and fingers crossed he will have a good chance in a competitive race.
“It will be his first run in what would be a really big-field competitive handicap over fences, but for his age I think he is pretty unexposed over the larger obstacles.”
Harriet Graham and Gary Rutherford’s Aye Right has had to settle for minor honours behind both Good Boy Bobby and Thomas Darby so far this term.
The consistent 11-year-old will be partnered by the talented 7lb conditional Dylan Johnston as Graham and Rutherford seek to further reduce Aye Right’s burden and connections dream of landing a first victory since the 2021 Rehearsal Chase.
“We made the decision to put a 7lb claimer on because he is not a big horse and we have always felt the handicapper has never really relented on him and we just thought we should try it,” said Graham.
“Dylan is one of the good up-and-coming conditionals, so we thought we would give it a go and we’re quite excited about it.
“The handicapper has let him off a little bit but it’s taken a lot of asking. Even to qualify for the race, because the qualifiers are 0-150 and he was 154 I think, I had to get the handicapper to drop us so we could qualify.
“He has relented slightly, but when you compare him to Good Boy Bobby who beat us at Chepstow and we beat him two years ago in the Rehearsal, I think he has been a lot more lenient with him and he’s never gone up to the same extent that Aye Right ever went off.
“We know Aye Right always runs an honest race and because of his front-running style, he’s hardly hiding, but it’s great to have a horse like that.”
Fellow northern raider Top Ville Ben went close at Aintree on Boxing Day and is another heading into the race with good form to his name, with Richard Hobson’s Lord Du Mesnil another to make the podium prior to this.
Meanwhile, set to shoulder top-weight is Kim Bailey’s Two For Gold, with the handler thrilled to give his high-class staying chaser the chance to compete amongst his fellow elder statesman.
“It’s a very competitive race and the poor old chap has to carry top-weight,” said Bailey.
“If he finished in the first four I would be thrilled to be quite honest, but having said that he seems in a very good place.
“Veterans’ races are very popular and I’m a big supporter of them.”
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