2-15 RACING FX PRELUDE HURDLE (LISTED HANDICAP) – 2 MILES 148 YDS
Gran Maestro beat a few of these rivals over the course and distance back in July and it would be of little surprise to see him do so again. He has been given a recent outing on the flat at Haydock to keep himself ticking over since then and he was far from disgraced when finishing third behind Always Resolute. This return to Market Rasen should prove ideal and as he is proven over further, he is unlikely to be found wanting for stamina. He has a range of apparatus fitted this afternoon in order to get the best out of him and with the blinkers, hood and tongue tie in place, they should prove fully effective.
Swansea Mile is a new recruit to the Dan Skelton yard having been trained previously in Ireland by Ted Walsh. His two recent wins at Kilbeggan and Bellewstown were achieved with the minimum of fuss and he is clearly improving with experience. His best efforts have all come on decent ground and with that likely to be on offer this afternoon, he has to be considered a live threat. Course and distance specialist Manhattan Swing has never finished out of the places at this track but he has work to do in order to reverse placings with the selection.
Gran Maestro is at least proven at this level and Dr Richard Newland has clearly got him in good heart. Will Kennedy is back in the saddle and the combination ought to make a decent effort to once again see off the likes of Laudatory and top weight Commissioned.
2-50 RACING FX PRELUDE CHASE (LISTED HANDICAP) – 2 M 5 F 89 YDS
Valco De Touzaine has been kept on his toes throughout the summer months and has made the frame in his last three starts. The most recent of which was a career best when just touched off by Standing Ovation at Newton Abbot. It should be noted that he was trying to give the veteran almost a stone in weight on that occasion, so his performance should be marked up as a result. The front two pulled some seven lengths clear of their closest pursuers indicating that the form could prove to be quite useful over the coming months. Sam Twiston-Davies is back in the saddle and the duo command utmost respect.
Gray Hession has won all three of his races since joining Jonjo O’ Neill. Two wins at Southwell and another at Bangor indicate that he is a rapidly improving eight year old with very few miles on the clock. Richie McClernon has a one hundred percent strike rate on the Vinnie Roe gelding and they look to be amongst the chief dangers to the selection. Oscar Rock can go well fresh, so the lack of a recent run should not cause concern. He was a heavily backed favourite when falling at Ayr in a Grade Two Champion Chase back in April. He is likely to have been well schooled at home since and he too can make the frame.
Valco De Touzaine can confirm recent form with the likes of Claret Cloak and Gold Futures. He is one on the youngest in this line up and he might just have too much speed for his older rivals. The customary hood and tongue tie are once again reached for by Paul Nicholls and this son of Dom Alco should be capable of going very close.
3-50 BETFRED CAMBRIDGESHIRE (HERITAGE HANDICAP) 1 M 1 F
Educate won this a couple of seasons ago and has now dropped back to a useful looking mark. He won’t mind any further rain that falls and a fast and furious pace should see him get competitive with Tom Queally in the saddle. He ran a decent race when chasing home The Corsican at Goodwood back in April, but his form has dipped again of late, a return to Newmarket could well spark a revival and he certainly has the ability to get into the first five.
Abseil is a clear danger as Sir Michael Stoute clearly feels that a race of this nature is certainly well within his capabilities. He is partnered by the returning Ryan Moore and provided that the rain stays away he may well prove to be a massive thorn in the side of any rival. Bronze Angel comes into this race in peak form having won at Doncaster last time. That will have bolstered his confidence and the two time winner of this race looks sure to go close yet again. Louis Steward takes off a handy three pounds as they bid to record a second win inside a fortnight.
Educate tends to raise his game in large field handicaps like this and it will be of little surprise if he were to be staying on when others had cried enough. Conditions look to be in his favour and it would be foolish to completely write him off.
SATURDAY 2-15 MARKET RASEN GRAN MAESTRO
SATURDAY 2-50 MARKET RASEN VALCO DE TOUZAINE
SATURDAY 3-50 NEWMARKET EDUCATE (E/W)