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I have to side with RAJDHANI EXPRESS in this race, he finished third in the Ryanair at Cheltenham in March ahead of Al Ferof back in 5th. That was off level weights, today he receives 6lbs. I’m happy to put a line through his last start when he unseated Sam Waley-Cohen, he’s only a 7-year-old and is therefore open to plenty of improvement.
Al Ferof is the current favourite, he’s had some issues over the summer and it’s likely he’ll need the run on what is turning out to be testing ground. Wishful Thinking won easily at Aintree last time out in the race that Rajdhani Express unseated, Uxizandre finished 4th in that race before going on to win at Cheltenham last weekend, therefore even as an eleven year old Wishful Thinking is still a horse very much capable of winning this.
I do however feel that the selection would have got nearer to Wishful Thinking and could have possibly beaten him if he hadn’t of unseated. A clean round of jumping and general expected improvement should see him go very close here.
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At first glance this looks to be a race between Cue Card, Dynaste and Silviniaco Conti however there are question marks over all of them. Cue Card had some issues over the summer and ran a poor race on his seasonal reappearance, admittedly that was over the wrong trip. He’s a high class staying chaser and won this last year, my issue is whether he’s as good as he was last year. If he is then he’ll be winning this, I however don’t want to take that chance at the current odds.
Silviniaco Conti is a horse that I’m not a fan of, he’s a bit of a flat track bully. On his return at Wetherby last month he disappointed, again the trip was wrong and we should see some improvement. Again I can’t be backing him at the odds.
Dynaste is one of my favourite horses in training, despite the fact he let me down on a five-fold accumulator for several thousands of pounds at Cheltenham in 2013. My concern with him is that I feel 3 miles 1 furlong on soft to heavy ground isn’t what he needs. He ran well in this last year, finishing 2nd behind Cue Card, however I don’t see him reversing that form today. He was also beaten by both Cue Card and Silviniaco Conti in the King George at Kempton on Boxing Day and I sturggle to see him reversing that form with both of them today.
With concerns over the the first three in the market I would rather look for a potential improver. That horse for me is TAQUIN DU SEUIL. he has the advantage of two good runs this season, he has Geraghty and not McCoy on board and ground conditions to suit. The win of his JLT win at The Festival has been franked by Uxizandre. He’ll need improvement, but I’m expecting that to come. At odds of 6.00 I think he’s worth siding with.