This Class 2 three-mile handicap chase has attracted some of the best summer steeplechasers aged five-years-old and upwards.
With £40,000 in prize money it’s no surprise that this feature event at Britain’s most northerly racecourse has drawn a good field, including last year’s winner Beeves, saddled with top weight of 11st 12lb. In an open handicap there are plenty of other horses with claims to serious consideration.
Pauline Robson’s Martiloo come here in search of a hattrick following fine recent wins at Ayr and Aintree. He has jumped up the ratings but still carries bottom weight in this much hotter race.
Beeves will be a popular choice as too will the other course and distance winners Rainy City and Maggio. Recent Worcester scorer Lord Ballim and the 2017 bet365 Gold Cup winner Henllan Harri (pictured), are others who will have their supporters.
Martiloo is sure to be a popular choice here as he bids for his third win in the last 27 days. The Northumberland-based gelding is clearly in terrific shape but has been handed a further 8lb rise since his win at Aintree and he has never run this far before so his ability to handle the extra half mile has to be taken on trust.
Last year’s winner BEEVES, trained by Jennie Candlish, runs off just a 4lb higher mark and carries top weight of 11st 12lb this time. On the forecast good ground that shouldn’t be a major issue, and his run last time out when third in the Staffordshire Plate at Uttoxeter suggested he has again been trained with this race very much in mind. The 11-year-old was only headed on the run-in that day returning from a break of seven weeks and he should be spot on for today’s double attempt.
Lord Ballim, a winner at Worcester recently over 2m4f, appeared not to stay the trip in this race last year when another of today’s contenders Looking Well also finished well beaten. There is no obvious reason why either should reverse the form, although the latter will find this easier than the Scottish National last time out. Henllan Harri’s win 14 months ago in the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown showed he stays really well and his spin over hurdles last time may have sharpened him up. He is not without a chance and is respected
Sadlers Risk has his second start for in-form trainer Tom George but ran poorly on his debut for the yard at Aintree in April, albeit in a much higher class. He has been given a chance by the handicapper and it would not surprise to see him go well dropping down in grade. Any rain would help both Rainy City and you couldn’t rule out Pain Au Chocolat either, although his stamina for this longer trip is by no means guaranteed.
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Written by Paul Alster
Paul Alster has been part of the British and international racing media for more than three decades working as a race commentator, TV/radio presenter, journalist, betting correspondent, SP returner, and form analyst. He’s always sought out overpriced runners in handicap races, a quest that excites him as much now as it did at the start of his career.