Goulanes out to be fourth in Pipe line
Betfred Midlands Grand National Chase (Listed) | 4m1½f, 5yo+ | C4/ATR
WIN or lose at Cheltenham, get your money back on David Pipe in the Midlands Grand National.
That has been a highly profitable system in recent years, thanks to victories for Minella Four Star (who scored at 25-1 in 2011), Master Overseer (11-1 in 2012) and Big Occasion (6-1 last year).
The yard could hardly be in better form this year, coming into the race after festival wins with Western Warhorse, Dynaste and Ballynagour.
And they have two chances of completing the Uttoxeter four-timer to round the week off in style.
Richard Johnson is on board Goulanes, who was pulled up in the Welsh Grand National last time, but is reported in good form now and bypassed the Kim Muir at Cheltenham to run here.
Conor O'Farrell partners the quirky Junior, who is now 13lb lower in the handicap than when gaining his last victory.
Nick Scholfield stands in on topweight Harry Topper in the place of the injured Jason Maguire, who has played a huge part in the horse's progress and was on board for each of his last three victories.
This is not necessarily a race for seasoned campaigners as only one of the last 13 winners had run more than 14 times over fences, and six of them were novices at the time of their success - three were having only their fourth run in a chase. No horse aged ten or over has won since Lucky Lane in 1995.
Low weights favoured
It takes a very good horse to win this race under a big weight. The only winner to defy more than 10st 12lb this century was Synchronised (2010) and he went on to land the Cheltenham Gold Cup two years later. None of the first four home last year carried more than 10st 3lb.
Stayers only need apply
Stamina is essential. At 4m1½f, this is the second-longest chase in Britain behind the Crabbie's Grand National.
What they say
Kim Bailey, trainer of Harry Topper
It wasn't difficult choosing this rather than the Gold Cup, as it was already too quick for him at Cheltenham when I walked the course on Monday. The Uttoxeter ground should be all right for him, and I don't see why he shouldn't stay four miles. The main problem is not having Jason [Maguire] as he knows him so well, but Nick [Scholfield] rides very well and should get on fine with him.&l t;/p>
David Pipe, trainer of Junior and Goulanes
It has been well over a year since Junior last won but this season his mark has fallen from 155 to 142. He has always been a quirky character, so it is hard to say what to expect. Goulanes had the world at his feet last season. This season hasn't really gone to plan but he seems in good order. He needs the ground as soft as possible.
David Bridgwater, trainer of Wyck Hill
He came out of the Eider really well and is in great order. It should still be soft enough for him and my one worry is the track, which might be a bit sharper than he prefers, but four miles is four miles and I think it's the trip he wants as much as the ground.
Malcolm Jefferson, trainer of Sun Cloud
We're on a good weight [10st] with Harry Topper in the field. He was running a nice race last time and what happened was unfortunate.
Sue Smith, trainer of Fill The Power
He's in good form and he ran well when things weren't in his favour last year, so hopefully he'll go well with the ground drying out.
Alan King, trainer of West End Rocker
He hasn't run for a while, but he's back in very good form and this has been the plan for some time.
Willie Mullins, trainer of Are Ya Right Chief
He won a bumper and a 2m6f maiden hurdle and clearly needs a real test of stamina, so going almost 4m2f should not present a problem. He ran a good race in the Grand National Trial over 3m4f at Punchestown last month, finishing third in his first handicap. He has run only four times over fences and has yet to win a chase. He is 5lb out of the handicap but 10st is still a nice low weight and we're looking forward to a good run.
Peter Buchanan, rider of Alpha Victor
He's in really good form. I won on him at Sedgefield, then he refused at the first at Warwick, but he won over hurdles last time. He jumps well and stays terribly well - if he gets over the first two he should run a nice race.
Uttoxeter good to soft, soft in places on chase course
Kempton good to soft, good in places
Fontwell good to soft, soft in places
Newcastle good, good to firm in places on home straight, good, good to soft in places on back straight
Limerick heavy, soft to heavy in places
Today's key pointer
Since the start of 2010, John Quinn has a 6-13 (46% +£18.23) record in jumps races at Newcastle. He runs Fisher at the venue in the 3.25
Pointer courtesy of Raceform Interactive