THE LAST DAY (2.10) should be a horse to follow this season and can make a winning resumption at Ascot.
Evan Williams campaigned him very considerately last season, giving The Last Day plenty of time to recover from a heavy final-fence fall on chasing debut at Newbury’s big November meeting. His gelding then finished runner-up behind two smart sorts at Exeter and Ffos Las before sluicing home in the Carlisle mud in March. The more rain the better his chance. Dr Richard Newland won this event last year and his Caid Du Lin has a good record around Ascot, beating Seredek over course and distance last November. He is now 8lb worse off with the runner-up.
LISP (2.45) has a difficult task under top weight in the Sodexo Handicap Hurdle but he didn’t enjoy the clearest of runs when eighth to useful Al Dancer here in February before his excellent fifth in the County Hurdle at Cheltenham in March. Trainer Alan King pocketed this prize 12 months ago with Fidux. Adjali was a slightly disappointing seventh behind Pentland Hills in the JCB Triumph Hurdle but got closer to that winner when fourth at Aintree the following month.
VINNDICATION (3.20) is unbeaten in two visits to Ascot and has leading prospects of completing his hat-trick in the Sodexo Handicap Chase. Kim Bailey’s six-year-old should have benefited from wind surgery following his fifth to Defi Du Seuil in the JLT Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham. Black Corton ended the season a high when posting a brilliant success in the bet365 Oaksey Chase at Sandown in April but has been set a stern examination under 11st 12lb. Larry and On The Blind Side would appear to hold better prospects. With 18 runners declared, some firms will be offering five places for each-way betting.
There is an interesting but difficult end-of-season card at Newmarket where PRESIDENTIAL (4.15) bids to follow up last year’s clear-cut success in the concluding 7f handicap. Roger Fell’s gelding is only a pound higher in the ratings and has been given a short break since his running-on fifth to Young Fire and Molls Memory (subsequent Newbury winner) at Haydock. He is closely matched with Dance Diva on a form line through Molls Memory but goes well at HQ which swings the vote.
The nursery is a tight affair but TAFISH (12.55) was very impressive when stretching clear at Southwell and is clearly improving quite fast. Whether he will show the same spark on turf is another matter but the betting market should be a guide.
There is some competitive jumps action at Ayr. SMITHS CROSS (2.40) shaped with a great deal of promise on his comeback run at Carlisle last month and should reap the benefit of that pipe-opener.
Michael Scudamore’s gelding led briefly in the straight but couldn’t go with winner The King Of May when he quickened past three out. The stable saddled a winner at Kelso last week in the shape of Mysteree and Smiths Cross can outpoint Ballyvic Boru, successful at Wetherby when accounting for the Philip Hobbs-trained Ecu La Noverie.
Scudamore could enjoy earlier success with ROSIE AND MILLIE (12.35) in the opener. His mare found one too good in Vienna Court at Ffos Las, leading two out until collared by Nigel Twiston-Davies’s winner. With a Harry Fry-trained favourite held in third, that looks a pretty solid piece of form.
Dr Richard Newland attempts to land the Scottish Champion Hurdle Trial Handicap Hurdle for the second year running and is represented this time by top weight LEONCAVALLO (3.25). He won on debut for the stable (ex-Ben Pauling) at Ludlow and was 10lb higher when running eighth to stablemate Le Patriote in the Swinton Hurdle at Haydock. He looks the each-way option. Fanfan Du Soleuil is an obvious danger if reproducing his fifth-placed effort behind Band Of Outlaws at the Cheltenham festival.