LAY down the Lor in the Randox Health Henry VIII Novices’ Chase.
It was hard not to be impressed with the way LALOR won on his chasing debut at Cheltenham last month.
He jumped really well and scooted clear of Dynamite Dollars, Claimantakinforgan and Pingshou and rightly rocketed up the betting for the Arkle Chase at the Festival.
Previously his best form had come on flat tracks so it was good see him cope with Cheltenham’s demands so well. I can’t see today’s track being a problem especially as his jumping looks very good.
I’m expecting a better show from Pingshou. He ran like in need of the run last time but the softer ground is a slight concern.
Diakali completed a hat-trick of wins since going chasing when landing a dramatic race at Cheltenham in October. He’s been doing his winning on decent ground but he has plenty of hurdles form on softer.
Highway One O One deserves a dart at a decent prize like this. He’s won two of his three starts since switching to fences but his sole defeat came behind Dynamite Dollars at Market Rasen in October. That leaves him with a fair bit to find with Lalor.
I’M A GAME CHANGER found the small field against him when runner-up on his chase debut at Exeter. His earlier hurdles form was decent.
He finished second in a couple of decent races having won on soft ground at Ludlow in the spring.
With Philip Hobbs banging in the winners he must have a decent chance.
Most eyes are sure to be focused on Apple’s Shakira. She looked really good last season when winning three juvenile races before getting found out in Grade 1s at Cheltenham and Aintree.
The handicapper could have treated her harsher but top weight is not going to be easy to carry for a four-year-old filly.
Eragon De Chanay has a perfect two-from-two record at this track. He’ll like the ground and that means he’s got plenty going for him.
Totterdown bolted up from the front on his handicap debut on heavy ground over today’s course and distance last month. He’s shot up 10lbs in the weights but it was a clear personal best. This race may not be beyond him.
Timoteo returns from 20 months off the track and he doesn’t look obviously well treated.
THE Betfair Tingle Creek is the epitome of quality over quantity.
There might only be four runners but there’s nothing disappointing about this quartet.
ALTIOR is unbeaten in 14 races over hurdles and fences. That winning streak includes victories in last season’s Champion Chase and three course-and-distance successes.
He is well on the way to becoming one of the great two-mile chasers and I can’t oppose him despite this being possibly his toughest test since he switched to fences.
This should be set up for him by front-runners Saint Calvados and Un De Sceaux. They’re likely to make this a proper test and the track is also ideal for Altior’s sharp jumping.
Saint Calvados is a cracking young prospect. He looked very good when rattling up a hat-trick of impressive wins after arriving from France.
His flop when tailed off behind Footpad in the Arkle at Cheltenham wasn’t his form as he got involved in a crazy battle for the early lead.
He was way better on his return to action at Naas. His jumping was superb and he had the measure of Footpad when his old rival crashed out at the last fence.
Sandown is made for him but he won’t get any peace up front with Un De Sceaux in the field. He’s going for his tenth Grade 1 victory and one of those was in this race two years ago.
Sceau Royal completes the field and is certainly not out of it. He was forced to miss the Cheltenham Festival last season but returned with a most impressive performance. The ground might just be a touch soft for him.
GET the holiday money on ROYAL VACATION in the Betfair London National.
He lost his way a bit when faced with much stiffer tasks than this but he showed he was on the way back when runner-up behind Rock The Kasbah at Cheltenham last month.
That was a decent comeback run considering the likes of Coneygree, Singlefarmpayment and Calett Mad were behind him.
The softer ground will help and he’s relatively unexposed over this marathon trip.
Red Infantry is sure to be popular after winning at Haydock. That has to give him leading claims but he had a really hard race and it was only two weeks ago.
Grand National fifth Milansbar thrives over marathon distances on testing ground. He generally takes a few wins to reach his peak and I would be surprised if he didn’t improve for this comeback run.
Chase The Spud has been pulled up in all three of his races this year. The handicapper still refuses to cut him much slack but he did win first time out last season.
Exitas is much better on good ground and he also has stamina to prove.
Templegate’s TV tips
2.25 I’m A Game Changer
3.35 Royal Vocation
1.30 Highland Lodge
2.05 Definitly Red
2.40 Lady Camelot
3.15 Captain Redbeard
HIGHLAND LODGE has a great record in this race over the big National fences. He won it on his debut for Jimmy Moffatt three years ago and was a bit unlucky to be nailed on the line by Vieux Lion Rouge 12 months later.
His third behind Blaklion last year came on pretty dreadful ground and he’ll appreciate the slightly drier conditions.
This is his race so he’s sure to be trained to peak today and I’m not put off by his age. He might be 12 but in the last six years teenagers Oscar Time and Hello Bud have both lifted this prize.
Nigel Twiston-Davies is going for his seventh win this contest. Blaklion could not have been more impressive in it 12 months ago. He’s not had a run this time but that’s too worrying.
It’s hard to see how he won’t go well despite being 5lbs higher in the weights but my preference is for his stablemate Ballyoptic.
He’s always had stacks of class and went within a nose of signing off his novice season with victory in the Scottish National. If he takes to the fences he must have a decent chance.
Irish raider Crosshue Boy put his sound jumping to good use to win four times last season. His Ayr defeat of last week’s Ladbrokes Trophy third Dingo Dollar in the spring is smart form and he’s had a nice hurdles spin to set him up for today.
Gordon Elliott’s pair Don Poli and Noble Endeavour both missed the whole of last season. It’s hard to imagine they won’t improve for their first starts following long breaks.
Dual Badger Ales Trophy hero Present Man is just the right type for the Grand National but today’s soft ground is a concern. The fences won’t bother Ultragold – twice winner of the Topham Chase – but his stamina is unlikely to stretch this far.
LAST year’s Grand National hero One For Arthur makes his return from injury in the Many Clouds Chase but I can’t see him being sharp enough for DEFINITLY RED.
My fancy was impressive when winning this race 12 months ago having previously finished third in the Charlie Hall Chase.
He’s followed the same path but this year he won Wetherby’s top chase. Brian Ellison’s hope should be able to give weight away all round on ground he likes.
Double Shuffle crashed out at the first in the Charlie Hall. He has more than a touch of class having chased home Might Bite in last year’s King George.
Things haven’t gone to plan since Boxing Day last year but getting 6lbs from Definitly Red will help. The soft ground just puts me off him.
When One For Arthur landed the 2017 National I thought he was one of the few horses I’ve seen that could go back and win it again. A tendon injury ended the defence of his crown and I’m expecting him to need his first run for 20 months today.
IRISH trainer Gavin Cromwell has won this Listed prize for juvenile fillies twice in the last three years and I reckon he can get the treble up.
His LADY CAMELOT caught my eye when sixth behind a useful stablemate at Gowran Park two weeks ago. That came on good ground and his Flat form suggests today’s softer surface will help her.
Giving Glances breezed home on her hurdles debut in a modest Hereford contest. She won twice on the Flat in the summer and she seems to handle soft ground. It’s just hard to get a handle on how good she is but the potential is certainly there.
Smiling Eliza represents powerful Irish trainer Gordon Elliott. She has already won twice over hurdles but she’s yet to race on testing conditions on the Flat or over jumps. Her pedigree hardly gives much optimism on that score.
Chica Buena has added to her win in Ireland with a couple of victories since joining Keith Dalgleish.
She won a Musselburgh handicap in good style last month and she should go well.
CAPTAIN REDBEARD should pull rank in the Betway Grand Sefton.
He was a distant sixth behind Gas Line Boy in this race 12 months ago but that doesn’t tell anywhere near the whole story.
My fancy looked to be moving nicely until he was badly hampered four from home knocking him right off his stride. He didn’t get the cleanest of runs around when overhauled on the run-in at Haydock last time and he looks ore than capable of taking this race granted a bit of luck.
Warriors Tale twice went close in good races last season. His fourth over the standard fences at this track last month should have put the edge on him and top weight might not stop him.
Catamaran Du Seuil comes into this race in great form having won his last two starts. Those victories came ten months apart and he has a bit to find on his Tommy Whittle second behind Captain Redbeard last Christmas.
Crievehill should run his race again but, like many consistent horses, he might struggle to get the best of the handicapper.
11.55 Eldorado Allen
12.25 Creep Desbois
1.00 Faithful Mount
1.30 Highland Lodge (nap)
2.05 Definitly Red
2.40 Lady Camelot
3.15 Captain Redbeard (nb)
12.55 Easyrun De Vassy
1.55 Mount Rushmoore
2.30 Ramses De Teillee
3.05 Truckers Lodge
3.40 Young Bull
12.15 Hold The Note
12.50 Queen’s Magic
1.20 Ice Cool Champs
2.25 I’m A Game Changer
3.35 Royal Vacation (treble)
12.05 Time To Move On
12.40 Benny’s Secret
1.10 Howth Summit
1.40 Little Bruce
2.15 McGowan’s Pass
2.50 Raise A Spark
5.45 New King
6.15 Capla Crusader
6.45 Quiet Endeavour
7.15 It’s All A Joke