1-45 CORAL WELSH GRAND NATIONAL (GRADE 3 HANDICAP CHASE) – 3 M 5 F
Woodford County finished seventh in this last year and looks fairly well treated near the bottom of the weights in this stamina sapping contest. He comes here in good form having won at Exeter over further last time and he won’t mind the quagmire conditions that are extremely likely this afternoon. He is an out and out stayer and has won twice in the past for young Ciaran Gethings who takes off an invaluable five pounds.
Tour Des Champs showed that he was right back to his best when defying a year and a half off the track to win over the course and distance last time out. That was as good a trial as any and if coming here in the same form, he rates as a massive danger. Emperors Choice deserves to be favourite having taken the spoils last year and then running right away with a decent handicap at Haydock last time. Venetia Williams also won this race back in 2000 with Jock’s Cross so it is something she specifically targets. Despite a career high mark he too warrants utmost respect.
Woodford County needs this sort of trip as an absolute minimum and is likely to be staying on when others have cried enough. Provided that his jumping holds together he should be capable of running a very big race.
2-35 WILLIAM HILL LANZAROTE HURDLE (LISTED HANDICAP) – 2 M 5 F
Westren Warrior takes a big step up in class to contest this race but he is improving at a rate of knots. He has won on testing ground at Sligo and Lingfield in his relatively short career and has enough scope to challenge rivals from more fashionable yards. He has done better on each start for Richard Newland and William Kennedy rides him for the third time in a row. He has won over distances of up to three miles so his stamina is assured and he has to rate highly on any shortlist.
Unowhatimeanharry is undefeated since making the switch to the Harry Fry. The most recent of those wins came at Cheltenham where he saw off the attentions of Final Nudge and West Approach. He will need to step it up another gear but that is far from impossible and he commands the utmost respect. The front running Yala Enki is very lightly tried but he was found out at this level last time. A slight drop in trip should see him fare better and he is partnered by an in form Charlie Deutsch for the first time. Venetia Williams has her runners in terrific form and he too can make the places with the young jockey claiming five pounds.
Westren Warrior represents a stable who rarely bring their runners to the track without a chance. With assurances over the testing ground and the likelihood that he can improve further, he is taken to see off the challenge of his rivals.
2-20 UNDERWRITING EXCHANGE DAN MOORE MEMORIAL HANDICAP CHASE (GRADE A) – 2 M 1 F
Tennis Cap seems to have been around for ages but he is still only a relatively lightly raced nine year old. His best form has come when there has been plenty of give underfoot and that certainly looks likely this afternoon. He likes to wear his colours on his sleeve and will as usual attempt to make all. It is often said that when the ground is bad it pays to sit near the front and that tactic could well work to his advantage this afternoon.
Clarcam takes a big drop in grade and despite carrying the biggest weight still commands plenty of respect. He may prefer the ground to be a bit better though and Jacques Ricou is experienced enough to avoid getting him into too much trouble. Bright New Dawn ought to relish conditions and this stablemate looks a bigger threat. Guitar Pete seems to have lost his way of late whilst Nearly Nama’d may find himself like a fish out of water so to speak in this company.
Danny Mullins has already partnered Tennis Cap to victory in the past and his mount will come on in leaps and bounds for a recent outing at Gowran Park. The combination should make another bold attempt to land another big prize and they have to be considered.