The Midlands Grand National is the highlight of a smashing card from Uttoxeter which concludes Cheltenham week; at the time of writing the personal highlight of a magnificent week was Sir Des Champs in the Jewson Novices’ Chase and for those interested in antepost wagers I think the 8/1 on offer for the 2013 Cheltenham Gold Cup is a very fair price. This was written before the Gold Cup of course.
Eighteen go to post for the Midlands National and there are any number of chances; Irish trainer Noel Meade saddles the grey Another Palm who must go well as he looks to have been laid out for the race. Arbor Supreme doesn’t look particularly well handicapped but his young conditional jockey is outstanding value for his 7lb claim but the vote goes to novice Maringo Bay (3.20) who has looked in need of a thorough test of stamina over fences.
The selection’s best form is with plenty of cut in the ground but, as long as the ground doesn’t dry out too much, he has a decent chance in a cracking renewal of this marathon test. The selection is currently 8/1 with betvictor.com and we are betting ¼ odds first 4 in the race.
Volador has returned from a lengthy absence in decent form but he has hinted that a step up to 3m would suite and Charlie Longsdon has his string in cracking form and preference is for Cross Of Honour (2.45) who has won a point-to-point, bumper and novice hurdle.
Bruslini was very impressive at Catterick last time (take no notice that he came home alone) where his jumping was breathtaking at times. He might be well ahead of the handicapper but I think Carpincho (3.55) remains potentially ahead of the handicapper. The drying ground is a concern but he created a very favourable impression at Market Rasen earlier in the season and must go close.
Big Easy (3.25 Kempton) has looked well ahead of the handicapper in recent starts and although 8lb higher than when scoring at Bangor last time can land the hat-trick in a competitive heat.
Pocket Aces (4.35) was more like his old self last time and looks very well handicapped back on decent ground for Richard Rowe; the step up to 3m is a concern but that should be factored into the price and on his best form he would be very hard to beat.
Barry Geraghty rides Minella Forfitness (5.05) winner of his sole point-to-point in Ireland on his first start in Britain and it would be disappointing if he couldn’t win first time out for trainer of the moment Nicky Henderson.
There is a cracking card at Ffos Las and Victors Serenade (3.35) is a horse I have been waiting for this term after he failed to stay (refused at the last) in the Southern national back in November. He won over a shorter trip than today’s 3m here last time and, although 8lb higher, is lightly raced and can improve again in this stronger company.
Master Milan (4.40) seemed sure to take a hand in the finish at Lingfield last time but his run petered out form whatever reason. Today’s better ground should suit (point winner on firm ground) and McCoy takes over today.