Only 48 hours to the start of the Crabbie’s Grand National meeting and the ground was changed on Monday to good to soft (good places) following Sunday’s rain with more forecast for today.
There were eight horses taken out of the big race yesterday at the five-day entry stage leaving 65 entries and we are sure of a maximum 40-runner field for Saturday’s feature.
Today’s jumps action comes from Newton Abbot and the hope is that Sail By The Sea (2.10) is fit enough to do himself justice returning from a 400-day absence for David Pipe.
The gelding won an Irish point on good ground before finishing runner up in a Wincanton Hurdle over 2m 6f giving every indication he would be well served by a drop in trip.
He will jump a fence in time and is likely to appreciate further and better ground but he cost connections £85,000 and can recoup some of that fee in the opener.
The Handicap Chase over 3m 2f looks a cracker with Camden back to something like his best at Chepstow last time but the handicapper has raised him 5lbs and preference is for Seven Woods (3.10) last seen finishing fifth in the Eider at Newcastle and 2lbs lower.
Paddy Brennan takes over in the plate and he rode the 8-y-o to win at Wincanton last May from a 3lb lower mark.
Venetia Williams’ saddles top-weight and likely favourite Gotoyourplay but he has been raised 11lbs for winning at Taunton last time and he had a hard race after a two year lay-off on that occasion. Decent flat action from Kempton where there is a well-bred newcomer in Heisman (2.50) a son of Teofilio who may not have to anything out of the ordinary to win first time out.
Bustopher is the obvious favourite but runners from the Charlie Appleby yard have been regressing from their first run of late although this inmate was last seen finishing an excellent second in Meydan back in February.
Welsh Sunrise (3.20) has been improving rapidly of late and the filly is ridden by Ryan Moore for the first time this afternoon and can race off a mark only 1lb higher than when runner up at Lingfield last time.
She has the plum draw in stall 1 and is taken to return to winning ways on a surface she loves.
There are any number of dangers including eight-time C&D winner Ocean Legend who is 3lb lower than his last winning mark, is well drawn in stall two and hinted that his turn was near when third of eight here last month.
Economy (3.50) is out of a Yorkshire Oaks winner (Quiff) but he had already been gelded prior to his racecourse debut when he finished second at Lingfield (polytrack) last July.
He is entitled to come on for the experience and it will be a disappointment if he couldn’t break his maiden tag.
Sporting Gold (4.20) has a 2lb pull in the weights with Swift Blade for the short head he was beaten over C&D last month and he is entitled to come on for what was his first outing in three months.