The Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Handicap Chase (4.40) over 3m11/2f for
amateur riders has proved elusive to the Irish, and you have to go back 28 years
to find their last winner, Greasepaint.
2010 Result: BallaBriggs, trained by Donald McCain Jnr and ridden
by Mr R O Harding, 9/1 SP.
The Irish are carrying all before
them at this year's meeting but this is one race they've struggled to win, which
suggests their two representatives Saddlers Storm and Pomme Tiepy are up against
The seven to nine age range is the best place to look, with all of the past
10 winners falling into that bracket - of these, six were nine-year-olds. Weight
is no bar to success in this race with the last two renewals going to top
weights - Can't Buy Time (11st 12lb) is bidding to make that a hat-trick.
Claiming amateur riders used to do well but experience has come to the fore
in recent years with five of the past six winners being ridden by non-claiming
amateurs. Equine experience over the course seemingly counts for plenty too as
four of the last 10 winners had run at a previous Festival, while three had
recorded a top-three finish at Cheltenham earlier in the season.
The trainers to note with runners this year are Donald McCain and Ferdy
Murphy (two wins apiece), while David Pipe is bidding to win a race his father
won twice, both times with unconsidered outsiders. Somewhat surprisingly, Jonjo
O'Neill (who runs Can't Buy Time, Galaxy Rock) is still looking for his first
Junior is bidding for a Royal
Ascot-Cheltenham Festival double, having landed the Ascot Stakes last summer.
He's already proved his versatility in his two runs this season: third to Gold
Cup fancy Midnight Chase on his return to action over fences here in November,
before switching to hurdles and chasing home stablemate Ashkazar in a good
handicap, again at this course, on New Year's Day. He's clearly been saved for
this race and with crack amateur Jamie Codd booked to ride, everything is in
place for a big run.
The Ferdy Murphy-trained Galant Nuit is bidding to go two
better than last year and, despite a less than ideal preparation (pulled up here
in December and missed the Welsh National due to a bruised heel), he should go
well again. Saddlers Storm looks best of the two Irish-trained
runners, having started favourite for last season's Irish National (he unseated
Mostly Bob was a leading fancy
for the Racing Post Chase (fell at the third) and won't be far away granted a
clear round. The two novices Alderley Rover and Galaxy
Rock come into this in good form, although the latter carries a 5lb
penalty for winning a four-runner affair at Leicester earlier this month.
The Donald McCain-trained Khachaturian has always threatened
to win a decent race but his jumping is a concern. David Pipe is also
responsible for last year's close runner-up Faasel. He showed
nothing on his reappearance here in December, but that was the case 12 months
ago and he is best fresh.
Just four market leaders have
scored since 1973 but the fact JUNIOR has so much going for him
makes him to hard to resist at 13/2 with Boylesports, who are Best Odds
Guaranteed. On what looks like a difficult day's racing punting-wise, make him
your 'banker' bet. His stablemate Faasel is a real monkey and has two ways of
running but it wouldn't be a massive surprise to see him finish second again and
make it a 1-2 for the stable.