While Alan's best bet of the day could only finish third yesterday, his second selection hit the winners enclosure. He is looking to continue that good form with two selections from Haydock and Sandown today...
"He has been off the course for 193 days but that doesn't worry me, he goes well fresh"
William Haggis won this last year with Predominance and he has another interesting runner this year in the shape of his five-year-old Afjaan. The son of Henrythenavigator wasn't a cheap purchase at £280,000 and he has yet to really make a dent in that purchase price. He has won three times though, two on the All Weather (Kempton and Wolverhampton) and the other on good to firm ground at Beverley.
He has been off the course for 193 days but that doesn't worry me, he returned after a 344 day break to win his maiden in 2015 and then finished just half a length down in a decent Class 3 race at Lingfield last July after a 240 day break, so he obviously goes well fresh.
He finished close in two extremely valuable Ascot handicaps in October and running off a similar mark here today I think he could run a big race. There should be some progress now as a five-year-old, he has the services of Frankie Dettori, who has just two rides at the track today and the drop in trip shouldn't cause any problems. I expect Zoravan will take them along at a decent pace making it true test over the seven furlongs.
It looks like Neil Mulholland may have the measure of this race with the first three in market, the likely favourite looks like being Doing Fine for the Mulholland team, and he looks a worthy of that position. He won at Cheltenham off this mark just 10 days ago and gets in here with out a penalty, he is effectively 8lbs well in as a result of not being penalised. However, he fell in his last attempt in Graded company, and up against classier chasers with more experience, he will have to be foot perfect again today. I am not confident he will be and therefore, I like one of the other Mulholland runners.
The Druids Nephew is a top quality staying chaser and is lightly raced this season with just the two starts. The ten-year-old ran in this race last year and was seven and a half lengths behind his stable mate and third Mulholland runner, The Young Master, but when they meet again today The Druids Nephew will be 13lbs better off. I think that makes him very competitive, he gets in here 3lbs lower than his last win - the Ultima Handicap Chase in 2015 and I think he will relish today's conditions. The other advantage is that top jockey Noel Fehily cant make the weight on Doing Fine, so he gets the leg up on The Druids Nephew.
2017 Overall (prior to this week): -5.11 pts
This week so far...
Staked: 2 pts
Returned: 4.51 pts