Alan Thomson is hoping to deliver a bunch of fives on the bookies on Saturday.
DE RASHER COUNTER (3.35) can prove his class by successfully conceding weight all round in the Midlands Grand National at Uttoxeter.
Emma Lavelle’s gelding ploughed through the mud to land the novices’ handicap chase on this card 12 months ago and his defeat of The Conditional in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury in late November was made to look rock-solid when the runner-up scored at Cheltenham earlier this week. De Rasher Counter has been given a break since finding Santini and co too classy at Cheltenham in January when he didn’t jump with his usual fluency.
Paul Nicholls has rested Truckers Lodge since his gutsy second to Potters Corner in the Welsh Grand National and a 2lb rise seems very fair.
JP McManus and Barry Geraghty enjoyed a week to remember at Cheltenham and they may not be finished yet as MUSICAL SLAVE (2.25) has leading prospects in the 3m Novices’ Handicap Chase. Philip Hobbs trains the seven-year-old, a three-time winner over hurdles last season, and he despatched Musical Slave to Exeter on New Year’s Day to mop up a first victory over fences.
The trio team up again 35 minutes later with hat-trick seeker Dostal Phil in the 17-runner handicap hurdle but slight preference is for progressive NORDANO (3.00). The four-year-old chased home Goshen at Ascot in January and spread-eagled a large field on a return visit to the track a couple of weeks later, dominating from the front in grand fashion. Bryony Frost is likely to adopt similar aggressive tactics.
At Kempton, Paddy Power sponsor the Silver Plate and Silver Bowl, two difficult handicaps open to horses balloted out at Cheltenham, and DOWNTOWN GETAWAY (2.40) is entitled to go close in the 2m 5f handicap hurdle. Nicky Henderson’s seven-year-old set out to make all the running over course and distance last month and rallied gamely when headed to snatch victory from market rival Palmers Hill. Underfoot conditions should be similar and Downtown Getaway wins the vote over The Butcher Said, at his best on decent ground, and now returning from a short break.
SENSULANO (3.15) should give her backers a decent spin in the highly-competitive 2m 4f Silver Bowl Handicap Chase. Sensulano, a five-time winner for Noel Williams, proved no match for Magic Of Light in a Grade 2 hurdle at Ascot in January, probably finding three miles stretching her to the limit. She will be happier returned to fences over her favoured intermediate trip. The Queen’s Forth Bridge is bidding to repeat last year’s victory and drying ground will help his cause. Paddy Power are paying six places, each-way.
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