Warwick is due to stage Saturday’s feature meeting with conditions sure to be extremely testing with further sleet and snow showers forecast on top of soft ground.
The strong travelling Sky Pirate did us a favour at Cheltenham last time finally coming good dropped to the minimum trip for the first time. An 11lb rise makes life more difficult, however, although it should be noted that the second and sixth have subsequently franked the form. The opening show of 11/10 is too short, however, given we do not know how he will respond if he gets into a battle.
He must go close, but I thought Equus Millar (1.15) looked progressive when scoring at Haydock last time and is taken to defy a 5lbs rise. The selection – 9/2 with William Hill – represents the stable of Nigel Twiston-Davies who has hit a rich vein of form since the turn of the year. This represents a big step up in grade for the 8-y-old but, after only four chase starts, he is open to further improvement.
In the Grade 2 Novice Chase Next Destination was an impressive winner of a G2 at Newbury on his chase debut but it was not the strongest of renewals and he is overlooked. I have been waiting for Fiddlerontheroof (1.50) to step up in trip to 3m all term and the Colin Tizzard-trained 7-y-old gets the opportunity and vote in receipt of 5lbs from the odds on favourite. The selection – 15/8 with William Hill – has only won one of his four races over fences but is a good jumper and I do believe the step up in trip will suit. Note regular pilot Robbie Power is back in Ireland at present and has his first rides of the year at Fairyhouse this afternoon.
Adrimel (2.25) looked to be going better than Make Me A Believer when the latter came down three out in their sole Irish point and he is taken to confirm the form in the 2m 5f G2 Hurdle. The selection – 4s with 10bet – has won both hurdle starts so far this season over 2m and looks sure to appreciate the step up in distance today although he needs to brush up his jumping as he and Richard Johnson did not see eye to eye at either Sandown or Haydock. Trainer Tom Lacey fits the selection with first-time cheek-pieces.
Make Me A Believer lost little in defeat when second at Lingfield behind Bear Ghylls – did us a favour at Exeter on Sunday – on his hurdles debut and looked ready for a step back up in trip when scoring at Cheltenham – 2m 1f – last time. He is another exciting novice from the David Pipe stable who are having a very good campaign.
My two against the field in the valuable Grand National Trial are Achille and Le Breuil (3.00) with the latter getting the each way vote for Ben Pauling. The selection – 6s with BetVictor – is a former winner of the NH Chase at the Cheltenham Festival and would surely have gone close at Aintree last time but for a shuddering mistake four out.
He was due to run in the North Yorkshire Grand National at Catterick on Thursday before the meeting was lost to the elements. He needs to go up in the weights to be guaranteed a place in the National field at Aintree in the spring. One For Arthur did the same double in 2017 and I hope to see Le Breuil confirm his place in the big one for a yard who were in the doldrums last term, but have bounced back very well this season.
I hope to see a change of fortunes for the Colin Tizzard stable as I feel Sizing Cusimano (12.20) has a leading chance in the opener at Market Rasen. The selection – 9/2 with William Hill – finished runner up at Wincanton on a frustrating day for the yard on Boxing Day, but he bumped into a most progressive rival on that occasion and can defy a 3lbs hike in the weights.