VIVA STEVE (best price 2-1) ran many fine races for Mick Channon, but one couldn’t help but think that he rather missed the boat of several occasions and he looks worth chancing based on his natural ability on his first start for new connections. Although he did manage to win first time out last season, the son of King’s Theatre’s best effort was when he finished a creditable runner-up to Grand National second The Last Samurai in a quality handicap at Kempton over the Christmas period and if Fergal O’Brien can get him to run to that sort of level, or even squeeze a little more improvement from him, the future looks bright for this lightly-raced eight-year-old.£10 Free Credit and a £500 Deposit Bonus
FAIRY FOXGLOVE (NAP) (best price 15-2) absolutely tanked her way through the majority of her race over tonight’s course last time out, but in a pulsating finish, she couldn’t quite see it out having been on the sharp end from such an early stage. Hitting the front going well meeting the home straight 26 days ago, the Albano mare was sent for the line sooner than ideal by her pilot Ana O’Brien and although she kept on well for pressure, she was basically a sitting duck for the dead-closing pair, Appointment Only and Dark Alliance. The time figure and the subsequent victory of the latter, however, suggests the form of the race is more than useful for the grade and now technically 6lb lower taking into account the useful apprentice Donagh O’Connor’s claim, Pat Murphy’s charge has a fine chance of duplicating her previous winning performance three starts ago.
BANISH (best price 8-1) and CHARLIES MATE (best price 16-1), first and third respectively in the strongest run qualifier for the final of this series on the clock back in September have to be worth playing against the field at their morning odds based on those findings. On the evidence of the form book, it’s pretty clear that the former is a miles better horse on the all-weather than on turf (flopped back on grass last time at Newmarket) and that victory here two starts ago took his figures on a Polytrack surface to 2211. Staying strongly from the back of the field that day, Hugo Palmer’s charge mowed down his field in pretty ready fashion in the home straight and even though there has to be an element of doubt whether he can replicate that performance (raced in first-time blinkers that night), his price more than compensates the risk. The latter, although beaten fair and square on the night, once again ran right up to his best form over his favourite track and that placed effort took his C&D stats to 324323. Although he may lack the natural brilliance of some of his rivals, his honestly and reliability suggest he will always be capable of punching above his weight in races of this nature and he most certainly has a better chance of being competitive than his morning price indicates.