The Ould Lad has solid claims off joint bottom weight
Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup, 3m2f, New Course (due off 4.40pm)
Spring Heeled last year gave Ireland their first winner since Greasepaint in 1983 and they will be hopeful of a quick double with both Gold Bullet (Tom Taaffe) and Champagne James (Ted Walsh) holding decent claims. The pair are disputing favouritism at around the 10/1 mark, which is a measure of just how competitive this race is.
The former horse is one of the least exposed runners in the field and, having looked bound for top honours in his novice season and then missing most of last season through injury, he has returned this term with a couple of pipe-openers to set him up right for this. Champagne James has yet to score over fences but has finished second three times and races as if he needs a stamina test like this.
Who else is fancied?
The Pipes have won this race four times, most recently with Junior (2011), and they are doubly-represented with The Package, who is the mount of Jamie Codd (twice a winner of this race, including on Junior), and Standing Ovation, who has crept in off bottom weight. Colin Tizzard runs Grand Vision, third in the Albert Bartlett three years ago, and his hand is strengthened by Masters Hill, who was fifth in the same race last year. The latter has shown progressive form in staying races this term and is preferred of the pair.
The Ould Lad is just seven and Tom George’s charge surely has his better days ahead of him. He’s already shown a decent level of form over fences, including when finishing second to Benbane Head in a Grade 3 over course and distance in December, and would have needed the run at Leicester last time (see below trainer quote). The same stable’s Gods Own finished second in Tuesday’s Arkle at 33/1.
Any decent outsiders?
Benbane Head is a big-looking 25/1 with bet365 considering that success over track and trip and he could leave his latest pulled up effort in the Classic Chase at Warwick well behind on ground that suits, with Katie Walsh booked to do the steering. Of the rest, Tap Night has dropped to a good mark but he’s quirky.
Trainer quote: “It was trainer error. I thought The Ould Lad would get away with it today but I am afraid he was a gallop short. It is annoying but the horse is fine and it will have blown away the cobwebs.” – Tom George
Best bookie offer
A couple of firms – bet365 and Coral – are offering five places instead of the standard four.
Not a race to be massively confident about but THE OULD LAD looks to have plenty going for him, not least his price.
Selection – The Ould Lad each-way @ 16/1 BetVictor (14/1 bet365)