Nicky Henderson's Altior is one of four selections on a super Sunday of racing action.
Connections of COLLA PIER (best odds 10/1)
resisted the temptation to run their in-form mare at Cheltenham on Friday, but as she would have been racing off an 11lb higher mark against her English counterparts, it’s fair to say they’ve probably made a wise choice to stay on home soil. Following an easy success in a competitive handicap at Fairyhouse, Patrick Mooney’s charge was asked a big question in order to gain some valuable black type in Grade 3 company at Down Royal, and to her great credit, she answered every call in chasing home the widely impressive all-the-way winner Listen Dear. That form represents by far and away her best set of career figures and it came as quite a surprise to find the handicapper had left her on a mark of 111 following that excellent performance. Even though the daughter of Hawk Wing hasn’t always appeared the most trustworthy of characters off the bridle in the past, her current state of mind seems to suggest she’s lost the glass chin tag for the time being and this strong-travelling mare always has to come into the reckoning as an each-way proposition in a race of this nature.
Colla Pier - 0.5pts e/w @ 10/1Won 6pts
ALTIOR (best odds 5/2)
has looked really good since switching his attentions to hurdles and he remains a horse to keep on side until proven otherwise. A useful performer in bumpers last season, Nicky Henderson’s charge has demonstrated a decent level of ability in both his two starts to date over timber and even though he was made to work a little harder than his odds suggested last time at Ascot, he at least proved he has a good stomach for a fight as well as a fair dollop of class. Although ideally suited by a decent surface, the High Chaparral gelding did manage to finish a creditable third to the very smart Barters Hill in a bumper on soft ground and this classy five-year-old rates the value pick at 11/4 to prick the balloons of some big reputations.
Altior - 1pt @ 5/2Won 2.5pts
Winner of this race last season, there’s no reason why GORGEHOUS LLIEGE (best odds 11/2)
won’t go close to defending his crown hailing from a yard that has their string bang on the money at present. Similarly to twelve months ago, Venetia Williams’ charge arrives here fresh and under his ideal testing conditions, this relentless galloper will just keep pounding out the fractions at the head of affairs when others around him start waving the white flag.
Gorgehous Lliege - 0.5pts e/w @ 11/2Lost 0pts
SIMPLY NED (best odds 3/1)
is not every punter’s cup of tea but at the same time, no one can deny this mercurial character easily has enough quality to capture a race of this nature if consenting to put his best foot forward. Runner-up in this race last year, he was fancied by some shrewd judges to have a huge say in the Champion Chase at the festival in March, but for some reason or another, he just didn’t run up to scratch. Seemingly back to something like his best on his seasonal return at Kelso, he has race fitness, ground and the track form on his side to go one place better than twelve months ago.
Simply Ned - 1pt @ 3/1Lost 0pts