The BetVictor Handicap Chase is a race which leaves me cold as there seem more questions than answers regarding the main participants. It would come as no great surprise if there was a boil over with the likes of Warrantor and Racing Pulse considered, however COGRY (Best price 8-1) was fourth in this event 12 months ago and represents a yard which enjoyed success with a handicap chaser on day one of the meeting. The selection should relish conditions which have eased significantly and he could be a threat if he can find some rhythm in his jumping.£10 Free Credit and a £500 Deposit Bonus
Jonjo O’Neill is reported to be delighted with his More Of That’s preparation for this afternoon’s feature chase, however his Gloucestershire stable is a little subdued at present so he is reluctantly overlooked in preference of the enigmatic BUYWISE (Best price 18-1). Regular backers of the selection will be fully aware the investment is usually fraught with frustration as the nine-year-old invariably clouts a fence along the way before rattling up the Prestbury hill to record the latest agonising near miss. An encouraging reappearance over hurdles at Aintree in a warm handicap suggested the selection retains his enthusiasm and verve and it is worth remembering Buywise has been runner-up and fifth in the last two runnings of this race so his morning odds look very fair for a horse of his pedigree. Paul Nicholls clearly has a strong hand and any of his quartet could win, however BOUVREUIL (Best price 14-1) has been trained specifically for the race and is worth playing for a horse that invariably travels well in big-field handicaps.
ALLYSSON MONTERG (Best price 9-1) represents a yard which landed a nice prize at Bangor during the week and he could be leading contender to land the staying handicap hurdle. Inexperience could be an issue for the six-year-old, but he displayed some class as a novice in the face of some stiff examinations and looks nicely handicapped ahead of his comeback. It is worth recalling Richard Hobson’s charge was second to Albert Bartlett third Champers On Ice here in January prior to bolting up at Leicester on deep ground and his run at the festival was even more creditable given he suffered an injury mid race. Any overnight softening of conditions will suit the selection who appeals at double figure odds.
TOP OF THE TOWN (Best price 11-1) was something of an eye catcher in a Pertemps qualifier at the last meeting here and should go well with a more adventurous ride. He was beaten less than two lengths at the line by Golden Doyen after being asked to rapidly make up his ground late on and his rider Paul Moloney has reportedly advised connections to step back in trip. His stamina should be seen to good effect today with the morning rainfall and let us hope he is put in the race at an earlier stage.
BLANDFORDS GUNNER (Best price 7-2) has switched stables since we last saw him and a move to the excellent Harry Whittington could see him realise the potential he displayed on more than one occasion with his former handler. Wetherby looks sure to see plenty of rain today and that should suit the son of Needle Gun who is perceived to be well handicapped by connections and capable of leaving his current mark behind in time. Talented amateur James Nixon is entrusted with the steering and it will be disappointing if the seven-year-old can't make an impact off a mark of 127.
APPLESANDPIERRES (Best price 4-1) was ready to run a fortnight ago at the north Yorkshire venue but, understandably for a horse which has been difficult to keep in the track, that outing was shelved because of the fast ground. The eight-year-old has the opportunity to shine today though and he could prove the answer to a tricky handicap which features dangerous rivals in Our Thomas and Triple Eight. Dan Skelton's charge is clearly well suited by a flat, left-handed track and I thought the selection had the scope to thrive over fences in time when I saw him in the flesh at Worcester a couple of summers ago. It is perhaps a tip in itself then that connections feel there is some mileage in his hurdle mark before he tackles the larger obstacles.
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