Midlands National: Timeform's runner-by-runner guide
Timeform bring you their comprehensive runner-by-runner guide to Saturday's Midlands National at Uttoxeter, and pick out their 1-2-3...
"The 4m2f trip should bring out the best in him, and he's high on the shortlist."
Timeform on Folsom Blue
1. AMERICAN (Harry Fry/Noel Fehily)
Lightly-raced sort, but highly talented, finishing ninth in last year's Gold Cup. He's been off since producing a poor run in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury in December, but a repeat of his very smart performance to win a novice chase at this meeting two years ago would put him right in the mix, and it would be no surprise should he bounce back with a big run here.
2. MS PARFOIS (Anthony Honeyball/Aidan Coleman)
Likeable mare who was a smart novice last season. Off since but finishing sixth in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury on reappearance at the bgeinning of December but today's trip and the testing ground on offer is right up her street, and she's respected in receipt of a sex allowance.
3. FOLSOM BLUE (Gordon Elliott/Davy Russell)
A regular in this sphere, finishing fourth in the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse last spring. He wasn't disgraced when eighth in the Welsh Grand National at Chepstow in December, and a solid run to finish fourth in a Grade 3 handicap hurdle at Sandown last month should have put him spot on for this. The 4m2f trip should bring out the best in him, and he's high on the shortlist.
4. SMOOTH STEPPER (Alex Hales/Ciaran Gethings)
A winner of handicaps at Newcastle and Kelso respectively last season, but has been well held in both starts since switching to the Alex Hales yard, and would need to step up if he is to feature here.
5. DELL' ARCA (Tom Scudamore/David Pipe)
Represents a trainer in David Pipe who has won this race four times in the last decade, and while he ran up to his best when third in the Last Fling Chase at Haydock in December and arrives here fresh, he would need to find more to overturn the form with Chef d'Ouvre (first) and Back To The Thatch (second).
6. BALLYDINE (Charlie Longsdon/Sean Bowen)
Lightly-raced staying chaser, with just six starts over fences to date, who has been shaping as though he'll be suited by a marathon trip, particularly when finishing third at Haydock in January. He has a good record in the mud, winning a handicap at Sandown in February 2018, and could go well for the Charlie Longsdon team.
7. DAWSON CITY (Polly Gundry/Tom Bellamy)
Strong stayer who landed the Devon National at Exeter last month for the second year running. Up to a career-high mark as a result but is likely to be staying on when others have cried enough.
8. PRIME VENTURE (Evan Williams/Adam Wedge)
Arrives here having produced a couple of good effort to place in two 3 miles handicaps on similar ground in December. The longer trip here promises to play to his strengths and he has claims on the same mark as last time for a stable who won this in 2016.
9. ARTHUR'S GIFT (Nigel Twiston-Davies)
Built on the promise of his chase debut at the second attempt when seeing off 12 rivals at Carlisle (3m, soft) in February. He's been raised 8 lb by the handicapper for that performance, but is respected for a Nigel Twiston-Davies yard which has a good record with novices in valuable staying handicaps.
10. JAMMIN MASTERS (Warren Greatrex/Gavin Sheehan)
Dual hurdle winner last term who has shown even better form over fences so far this season, for all that he has yet to get his head in front in this sphere. He rates as an interesting outsider, though needs to bounce back from his most recent run at Chepstow, when he wasn't at his best.
11. MILANSBAR (Neil King/Bryony Frost)
Chased home Regal Flow to finish a gallant second in this last year, before following that up to finish fifth in the Grand National at Aintree. He's yet to reach those heights this year, but he plugged on for a fair fourth at Newbury at the beginning of the month and the fact that Bryony Frost retakes the ride is a bonus. He has each-way claims with the refitting of blinkers likely to help.
12. REGAL FLOW (Bob Buckler/Sean Houlihan (3))
Defeated Milansbar when winning this race 12 months ago, but has been below form in seven starts since, with six of those coming this season. A return to testing ground is likely to help, but the fact he had a run as recently as Monday at Taunton is a concern and others are preferred.
13. RAZ DE MAREE (Gavin Cromwell/Conor Orr (5))
Firmly in the veteran stage as a 14-year-old, but still capable of a big performance when granted a sufficient test of stamina, winning the 2017 Welsh Grand National at Chepstow (run in January 2018). The conditions here will suit him down to the ground, but his temperament has seemingly been on the wane this season and has something to prove.
14. POTTERS CORNER (Christian Williams/James Bowen)
Bounced back to land a Wincanton handicap in December and in the process of running very well when falling on his last 2 starts at Wincanton and Newcastle respectively. He's capable of figuring if able to keep the errors down and is respected.
15. CHEF D'OEUVRE (Sam England/Jonathan England)
Took advantage of his falling mark when winning 27f Haydock handicap in December and confirmed his return to form when finishing third of 15 in the Grand National Trial there in February. He should should give another good account having been raised just 4 lb for that most recent run.
16. BACK TO THE THATCH (Henry Daly/Richard Johnson)
Young, lightly-raced sort who has his name on a good staying handicap at some point. He chased home Chef d'Oeuvre at Haydock when second on his most recent run in December and arrives here 9 lb better off with that rival this time around.
17. GET ON THE YAGER (Dan Skelton/Harry Skelton)
Capable of useful handicapping form at his peak, winning the 2017 renewal of the Rowland Meyrick at Wetherby. Has struggled over inadequate trips on his two starts so far this season, though the return to this trip will suit and is no forlorn hope if able to bounce back to something near his peak form.
18. KILKISHEN (John Joseph Hanlon/David Mullins)
Confirmed the promise of his previous start when running out a convincing winner of an 11-runner handicap at Fairyhouse (25f, soft) on New Year's Day, and though he was unable to follow that up at Punchestown the start after, he ran up to his best when finishing fourth of 16 in Eider at Newcastle most recently and is respected off 1 lb higher.
19. FINAL NUDGE (David Dennis/James Davies)
Placed in the Badger Ales Trophy and the Welsh Grand National last season, but has struggled for form so far this term, with a wind operation making no difference on his most recent run. He arrives here in a first-time visor, but has plenty to prove.
20. JETSTREAM JACK (Sophie Leech/Connor Brace (7))
Ended his time for Gordon Elliott in uninspiring fashion over fences, and has been disappointing in 3 runs over hurdles since, leaving Olly Murphy after second occasion to join the Sophie Leech team. As such, he's very difficult to fancy at the moment.
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Timeform's Midlands National Analyst Verdict
FOLSOM BLUE didn't have things go his way when fancied for the Welsh National over Christmas and is worth another chance to show he has a big staying handicap in him for Gordon Elliott. Unexposed novices Arthur's Gift and Prime Venture likely have more to offer and head the many dangers along with Chef d'Oeuvre and Back To The Thatch.
Timeform's Midlands National 1-2-3
1. Folsom Blue
2. Arthur's Gift
3. Prime Venture