Darling Maltaix, second-favourite for Saturday’s Unibet Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle at Kempton, is reported in “A1 shape” for the Listed assignment.
An impressive winner on soft ground at Ascot last time, the Paul Nicholls-trained six-year-old has been raised 12lb for that success but gave the impression there could be better to come.
Harry Derham, assistant to Nicholls, said: “Darling Maltaix is in A1 shape. He’s been trained for the race since Ascot.
“It will be different conditions on Saturday – it was a stiffer track and softer ground at Ascot – but we’re hopeful.”
Punters have backed the Gary Moore-trained hat-trick seeker Kloud Gate into 7-2 favourite for the Ascot race, having opened at around 7-1. Darling Maltaix is a general 6-1 shot.
Declarations for the Lanzarote are made on Thursday morning.
Dingo Dollar and Master Whitaker share favouritism for Sky Bet Chase
Dingo Dollar and Mister Whitaker have been installed as joint-favourites at 10-1 by the sponsor for the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster a fortnight on Saturday.
Dingo Dollar was third in the Ladbrokes Trophy last time out at Newbury, while Mister Whitaker finished fourth in the BetVictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham when last seen.
Peter Niven won the race – previously run as the Great Yorkshire Chase – twice as a jockey on Dalkey Sound (1991) and Carbisdale (1994), and could saddle 20-1 chance Brian Boranha, winner of the Durham National last time.
Niven said: “He’s a better-ground horse so I’ve been saving him for a race like the Sky Bet Chase – it’s a race I loved when I was riding.
“His long-term target is the Scottish Grand National and if he could run well in the Sky Bet Chase beforehand, I’d be delighted.”
Sky Bet Chase odds January 26
Sky Bet: 10 Dingo Dollar, Mister Whitaker, 14 Give Me A Copper, Gold Present, O O Seven, 16 Adrien Du Pont, Barney Dwan, Favorito Buck’s, Go Conquer, Guitar Pete, Minella Rocco, Mount Mews, Rene’s Girl, Singlefarmpayment, Sizing Codelco, Wakanda, Warriors Tale, 20 bar.
Popular Gas Line Boy retired
Grand National regular Gas Line Boy, who won the Grand Sefton Chase over the famous Aintree fences in 2017, has been retired.
The 13-year-old contested three Grand Nationals, falling at the first in 2015 but faring much better when fifth in 2017 and seventh last year.
He won six of his 31 races and was most recently trained by Ian Williams, who tweeted: “The decision has been made to retire Gas Line Boy. He was a star, particularly over the National fences, where he won the 2017 Grand Sefton.”
Members can read the latest exclusive interviews, news analysis and comment available from 6pm daily on racingpost.com