Twiston-Davies can follow up Festival double at Uttoxeter
Today’s feature is the Midlands Grand National from Uttoxeter and, although the ground is drying out all the time, conditions are still described as good to soft ahead of the four-and-a-quarter mile contest.
David Pipe has saddled the winner of the event four times in the last five years and the handler is doubly represented with stable jockey Tom Scudamore riding Katkeau and Conor O’Farrell riding Standing Ovation who will certainly appreciate the drying ground.
The prize went to Ireland 12 months ago courtesy of Goonyella and the same connections have the 7/1 market leader with BetVictor Sizing Coal who has every chance on his third in the Irish National last spring. My two against the field, however, are Subtle Grey and Cogry (4.10) with marginal preference for the Nigel Twiston-Davies trained runner who had a double at the Festival on Wednesday.
The selection (10/1 with BetVictor) is lightly-raced this term but has long been thought of as a decent staying chaser in the making and, with the yard in such great form, he can reward each way support.
Pipe saddles Abracadabra Sivola (3.00) in the valuable novices’ handicap chase and the selection won despite jumping out to the left at Leicester last time and a mark of 125 looks workable.
At Kempton, Sirabad has disappointed so far over fences but certainly has the scope to make his mark over the larger obstacles; a market move would be worth noting. A chance, however, is taken on Casino markets (2.40) for Emma Lavelle despite returning from a lengthy absence.
The yard had a winner recently and the selection has always been considered a horse who would thrive over fences and decent ground; Nico de Boinville is a significant jockey booking and he has the scope to be better than his current mark.
The mare Pumped Up Kicks (3.50) disappointed in the autumn but is likely to have been freshened up by Dan Skelton, will love the underfoot conditions and can land each way support in a cracking handicap chase. At the time of writing the stable inmates had run well in defeat at the Festival and this mare thrives in the spring.
Ten Sixty (4.25) will surely be sent chasing sooner rather than later by Philip Hobbs but he can break his maiden tag over hurdles in the 2m 5f Novices’ Hurdle; a son of Presenting he will love the ground and I hope Richard Johnson makes plenty of use of his mount.
The penultimate contest is a cracking handicap Chase and I am looking forward to seeing both Keltic Rhythm and Castle Cheetah (5.00) but the vote goes to the latter who ran better than his finishing position would suggest at Huntingdon last time on ground softer than ideal. Nico de Boinville keeps the ride that is a plus in itself.
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