Racing: The big race of the day tomorrow is the Paddy Power Gold Cup (2.35) and it represents a cracking chance for Grands Cru to erase his RSA Chase debacle, where he looked a spent force some way from home and apparently never satisfied Tom Scudamore at any stage during the race.
If David Pipe’s charge is to be considered a Gold Cup/Ryanair contender — and let’s hope he goes for the latter — then he surely has to win this contest off a mark of 157.
The one lingering thought in my mind is that a few years ago, the same words were being uttered about Long Run and he blew out completely in the same race.
But the difference is that this trip is much more Grands Cru’s cup of tea than that of Henderson’s Cheltenham Gold Cup-winner and I can see him making a mockery of this mark.
Then there’s Hunt Ball, who had a brilliant run of form last year culminating in his best run at Aintree when third in a Grade One, albeit a sub-standard renewal, but I can’t have him at level weights with my selection.
Of the remainder of his rivals I make Walkon the biggest danger off his relatively low weight. We all know he is a horse that goes well fresh and Alan King feels he has him spot on for this tough venture, while the likes of Quantitativeeasing and Al Ferof — who is not well handicapped in my book — have place claims, but really shouldn’t trouble Grands Cru.
Earlier on in the 12.45 race I think that dual novice hurdle-winner McVicar will have his work cut out to give the weights away to French import and newcomer Roc D’Apsis, who is well-regarded by the Tom George yard.
I also fancy that Fredo could go well at a huge price in the staying handicap chase at 1.55.
Ian Williams’s charge ran a cracker here last time out and ground just on the soft side of good is absolutely perfect off his light weight.
Elsewhere I am particularly interested in the Polytrack meeting at Lingfield Park and in particular the claims of Circumvent in the Churchill Stakes at 2.15.
He adores this track and with the new surface still riding on the slow side he can outstay the likes of Faraaj and Tinshu.
I also like Secret Asset as an each-way call in the Listed Golden Rose Stakes at 2.50.
He has been given a small spell on the side lines to freshen up and, at an each-way price, looks the value from a good stall sit in box number two.
Finally, have a look at Hawaana in the opening race on the card at 12.00. Gay Kelleway’s charge has dropped to a mark of 65 and that looks too good to overlook against the weakest field he has faced for some time.