WHETHER you had a Festival to celebrate or the other sort today is time to head for the Bar.
MILANSBAR is the one to be with in Uttoxeter’s biggest race of the season, the Midlands National (3.35).
This is always a real slog as it is invariable very soft and the turf is very holding. As a result course form is worth even more than usual.
And Milansbar’s career track figures are 011422. It does not need Einstein to realise he is terrific each-way value.
He has twice finished second in this race and is very well handicapped on those runs. Plus he shaped well when fourth last time at Newbury over 3m2f, a distance which barely gives him time to get warmed up. Four miles plus is what he needs.
The booking of Bryony Frost, as good as any over fences, is a plus. She was superb on Frodon in the Ryanair and she was simply sensational in interviews after the race.
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She is the most wonderful advertisement for the sport and the ‘suits’ at the BHA should use those interviews for a marketing campaign promoting racing. Instead we will probably get more of the British Champions Series and ‘team’ racing on Thursday nights. Yawn, bloody yawn!
Back to the Uttoxeter race and well handicapped Ms Parfois faces a stiff task after a lay-off, Ballydine shapes like he will stay but the form of the Charlie Longsdon yard is a worry.
American looked like a Gold Cup horse when winning on this card two years ago but flopped again on his return and has questions to answer now.
But Arthur’s Gift could go well. He is lightly-raced and looked like he had more to offer when winning last time at Carlisle. Trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies has a fine record in the big staying chases.
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DE RASHER COUNTER can bring home the bacon in the 2.25.
He beat Walt, who has gone on to win a big Kempton open handicap, at Newbury in December and is a progressive novice.
He found Now McGinty, second since in the Reynoldstown, too strong at Chepstow but was clear of Captain Cattistock, who is no better off today.
Consistent Scotchtown should go well and could reward each-way players.
I spy an eyecatcher…
THERE were loads of eye-catching efforts at Cheltenham, second and third VINTAGE CLOUDS and LAKE VIEW LAD being two to take from the Ultima Handicap on Tuesday.
Both are owned by Trevor Hemmings and are entered in the National and should be on any short list for the great race.
On the same day ATLANTA ABLAZE was still bang in contention in the ‘four-miler’ when an unlucky faller two out.
The mare did well to run so well after being badly hampered and will win more mares’ races for trainer Henry Daly.
SKY PIRATE travelled well until weakening up the hill to be seventh in Thursday’s Kim Muir.
This lightly-raced six-year-old possibly found the stiff 3m2f too much of a test but his is a name to note.
He can win a good prize, the big handicap chase over the extended three miles on the Mildmay Course on Grand National day could suit him ideally.
At Kempton HONEST VIC is one to trust in the 2m4f handicap hurdle at 2.40.
He was a shade unlucky when slightly hampered and only beaten a head by Brio Conti, fourth in the Coral Cup on Wednesday, at Ascot last time.
The first two pulled four lengths clear of Ballyandy, third in the Coral Cup, and Malaya, who won Sandown’s Imperial Cup last Saturday.
Honest Vic has only been put up 4lb – the handicapper might well be rethinking that now. The improvement came on his first run in a visor. If it works as well again then, over a slightly longer trip that should suit, he will be a major player.
Nicky Henderson saddles the main danger, Burrows Edge. He was only just pipped in a course-and-distance handicap last month on his belated reappearance.
He should go well but he has a good record fresh so may not improve too much.
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At Carlisle on Sunday TAKINGRISKS can gain an overdue success in the veterans chase at 3.50.
He flopped last time at Newcastle but his earlier Haydock second to Vintage Clouds and third at Wetherby behind Lake View Lad read well now.
Both those efforts came off higher marks than he runs off here and, as a strong stayer, he is well suited by this stiff track and testing ground.