Rory Delargy would like to point out that other aftershaves are available...
"Kaylif Aramis travelled smoothly over 2½m at Uttoxeter last time before winning with something to spare, and that ability to travel through his races suggests he'll be effective at the shorter trip today."
On a desperately difficult day, made more so by nigh-on unraceable conditions at the jumps meetings at Newbury and Sedgefield, and the prospect of a snowbound Doncaster, it's probably best to rely on stamina, for horses and horse-watchers alike.
I'd love to have put up a bet in the Novices' Handicap Chase at Newbury, which is run for the Brown Chamberlin Trophy, named after the 1983 Hennessy Gold Cup winner who carried owner Mrs Basil Samuel's coral colours to no less than 8 victories at Newbury, and was never beaten at that venue. Sadly, the race named in his honour is an uncompetitive 3-runner affair, and all we have to show for it is a vague recollection of a top-class chaser.
The following handicap hurdle over the extended 2m (16:25) is a much more appealing contest, and one in which it should pay to side with the penalised Kaylif Aramis despite him dropping back in trip. This full-brother to Pertemps winner Kayf Aramis ought to be a thorough stayer on pedigree, but he was found wanting for stamina on his sole start at 3m to date, and has shown his best form at around 2½m. He travelled smoothly over that trip at Uttoxeter last time before winning with something to spare, and that ability to travel through his races suggests he'll be effective at the shorter trip today, especially with deep ground putting such an emphasis on stamina. He seemed to relish conditions at Uttoxeter in putting up a career best, and is sure to make a bold bid to defy a penalty.
Of the others, Shotavodka is respected having improved to win easily at Taunton (heavy) last month, and was then given an easy task last time. He does tend to race freely, though, and that is a slight concern at this unforgiving venue. Chesil Beach Boy will be popular as Tony McCoy takes the ride on a horse often partnered by the amateur Miranda Roberts (daughter of trainer John Coombe). In my opinion, Roberts gets the very best out of this tricky ride, despite not looking elegant, and I don't believe he will respond any better to McCoy's hustling style. Whitby Jack has flopped more than once on heavy ground, and the handicapper has finally caught up with Ivor's King.
The hunter chase at this meeting last year provided unwelcome headlines for young rider George Gorman, as he erroneously steered certain winner Merry Vic around the last fence, allowing veteran Offshore Account to gain a fortuitous win. The winner turns out again, but is looking increasingly vulnerable at this level, while I'm sure teenager Joe Hill, having just his third chase ride on Ravethebrave, will be well aware of where the water jump is should he find himself in a similar situation to Gorman this time round. The ex-Alan King inmate is respected after winning at Fakenham for his new team, but he's not the biggest to be jumping Newbury's stiff fences out of bottomless ground, and preference on the day is for the comically-named Trouble Digger, who has done well in points for the talented Tom Lacey, but nevertheless looked better suited by regulation fences when winning a maiden hunter at Lingfield last time from Penmore Mill, who is a solid performer, and ran out a facile winner at Fakenham on his next start. The son of Double Trigger (geddit?) has taken time to reach maturity having started off with Kim Bailey, but he looks ready to make up for lost time, and could be an exciting prospect if continuing his progress.
Both at Newbury