Tom Stanley has 5 selections for Saturday's racing.
It’s very sad we will not be treated to seeing Coneygree in the Hennessy. His presence would have likely meant a few skipped the race given they’d have been out of the weights but the Gold Cup winner would’ve made this one of the classic renewals. Without him, the race lacks an element of quality, Saphir De Rheu’s potential aside, and Houblon Des Obeaux could win if repeating his run 12 months ago from a 1lb lower mark. Fingal Bay is a well treated horse and was well backed to go close last year but bled having travelled well. He’s a danger if his problems are behind him but he’s risky. My long term fancy for this has been Ned Stark, who only runs because the ante post favourite doesn’t. Now in at the weights proper, he’s a 2nd season chaser that can leave this mark well behind. A course winner, the ground would’ve been quick enough on reappearance and he was looked after when beaten, perhaps with an eye on this. He was entered up in a few other races today had Coneygree run so I think he’ll be ready to roll. The other bet could well be Theatre Guide for a yard bang on song. He was 3rd in this race 2 years ago off a 6lb higher mark and gets in off a low weight this afternoon. Cheekpieces are off, no bad thing given it’s hard to argue they’ve improved him, and he’s overpriced with a fair reappearance behind him. I’m not convinced this is his optimum trip but am happy to play at the prices.
The 2m 6 handicap looks worth a play too and I’m tempted by Ericht. That’s a cliff path well trodden though and perhaps best not to turn back. Shangani must have a great chance. Back off his last winning mark, here last year, he gets further and is back on a more testing surface than for his creditable reappearance. There’s a few solid bit of pace on so you may want a horse with form over 3 miles and the yard are in good form. Emma Lavelle has a few live chances today where teaming up with Sean Bowen. I like Javert in the previous race and think Mosspark could well leave his current mark behind this term. He has to start going through his races better but he showed he has the potential last time given he wasn’t beaten far having never travelled. A return to softer ground could help and he’s definitely well treated on form.
The Fighting Fifth is a decent enough renewal and Top Notch may well reverse form with Irving with a run under his belt. Both are out quickly though and that has to be a worry. Irving has shown he can handle a quick turnaround and a wind operation has clearly improved him but this is his toughest ask yet. Wicklow Brave bumped into a couple of Grade 1 winners last time so should be favourite but I’m not entirely convinced buy him. That could mean Beltor is overpriced and I’m keen to chance him. He won at Kempton in the style of a very good horse and the ground will hold no fears. Plenty mused, trainer included, that Cheltenham wouldn’t suit him and so it proved but we can forgive him that in a first time hood. For all he pulled at Kempton, when defeating a subsequent Grade 1 winner, I’m not too concerned they’ve done away with the headgear and fancy he’ll outrun 8/1 or so.