NATE THE GREAT (3.35) can justify his lofty market position by landing the feature Betway Queen’s Cup at Musselburgh.
This 1m 6f trip is probably a bare minimum for Andrew Balding stayer but he has been in fine form at Wolverhampton this winter, running an excellent third to Mildenberger and Rainbow Dreamer before seeing off Who Dares Wins on a return visit to the Midlands track in February. William Carver takes off 5lb and he should be able to take up a stalking position from stall five. The stable remains in top form.
Mark Johnston saddles five of the 14 runners, with Themaxwecan looking on an attractive mark. Like Nate The Great, he is best on a sound surface, so this dry spell will have pleased connections. Glencadam Glory would rate a serious threat is able to produce his Ebor Handicap form, when finding only Fujaira Prince too good at York. Alright Sunshine was back in ninth but has won on all four starts at Musselburgh for Keith Dalgleish.
Northern powerhouses Johnston and Richard Fahey saddle four of the seven runners in the Betway Royal Mile Handicap, but the prize may go to southern raider COLONEL FAULKNER (2.25). Archie Watson’s gelding, a winner on his final start at Deauville in December, had earlier made a highly encouraging debut at Doncaster when a close runner-up to El Drama. Roger Varian’s winner is now rated 98, so Colonel Faulkner seems well treated running off 83 here.
Seventeen runners are declared for the Betway Challenger Stayers Handicap Hurdle Final at Haydock and market principal Small Present, penalised 6lb for his recent Doncaster success, should go well for in-form trainer Sue Smith. COLONIAL DREAMS (3.15) was sent off at dismissive odds of 33-1 at Newbury on his first start in more than three months but was noted staying on steadily into third behind Regarding Ruth and Iwilldoit. Nicky Henderson’s gelding should strip sharper today and represents a bit of each-way value in an interesting head-scratcher.