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Sunday, 16 December, 2018

Valuable punting pointers for Friday's race over the National fences

Ultragold (yellow cap) on his way to victory in the Topham last year
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4.05 Aintree
Randox Health Topham Handicap Chase (Grade 3) | 2m5f, 5yo+ | ITV/RUK

Ultragold aims for historic repeat

Colin Tizzard’s Ultragold bids to complete a feat achieved by three horses in the race’s 69-year history by winning back-to-back renewals of the Randox Health Topham Handicap Chase.

A 50-1 winner last year, Ultragold returns off a 5lb higher mark with Harry Cobden once again in the saddle, arriving on the back of a mid-division finish in the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival last month, while Tizzard also runs Shanahan’s Turn, the mount of Robbie Power.

Assistant Joe Tizzard said: “It doesn't get any easier for Ultragold but he was very impressive round there last year and ran his best race all season at Aintree in December.

“He seems to love the track and that can go a long way.

“Shanahan's Turn hasn't run a lot for us but ran well for a long way last time. He's in real good form and could run well. He's a solid jumper so hopefully he'll run a good race.”

Keep Henderson onside

Nicky Henderson has enjoyed three winners from the last five renewals and returns with another strong hand.

O O Seven is 2lb lower than when fourth behind Ultragold in this race last year, while Kilcrea Vale tackles the National fences for the first time.

Henderson said: “O O Seven ran very well in this race last year. This is his optimum trip and he likes the fences. Kilcrea Vale has always struck me as a horse who would be suited by the unique test so I'm hopeful he'll take to it well.”

Reed family affair

It will be a race to remember whatever the result for one family, with conditional jockey Harry Reed riding over the National fences for the first time aboard Indian Temple, trained by his father and former jockey Tim.

Ease in the ground is a concern for the consistent nine-year-old, who has pleased in his schooling over the unique fences.

Tim Reed said: “If he takes to the fences I’m sure he’ll give Harry a great spin. He would have preferred better ground but he’s a good jumper and schooled well at Malton and at home over the unique fences.

“I wish I was out there riding him myself – I’ll be riding every fence with Harry from the stands!

“Harry has got a lot of experience and he’s twice as good as his old man already. It has been a great season for him and the future looks bright.”

What they say

Henry de Bromhead, trainer of Devils Bride
He hasn't won for a long time but seems in good order and is capable of a good run in a wide-open race.

Kerry Lee, trainer of Top Gamble
We were all very proud of his third in the Grand Annual. He's got a lot of weight but he's in great form for this first try over the National fences.

Gordon Elliott, trainer of Clarcam
He has loads of experience. He was down the field in the same race last year and we're hoping for better this time. He's in good order.

Paul Nicholls, trainer of Art Mauresque and Bouvreuil
They would ideally prefer better ground, but Art Mauresque has been running very well on soft ground, especially when second to Waiting Patiently at Kempton. He's better left-handed but is on a tough old mark. Bouvreuil has been waiting all winter for better ground but could run okay all the same as he's nice and fresh.

Nigel Twiston-Davies, trainer of Flying Angel and Bigbadjohn
Flying Angel has had a wind op since his last run and is in very good form. He jumps well so hopefully will go nicely over the National fences and he’s starting to look quite nicely treated. Bigbadjohn won well on his debut for us and is another fine jumper. The soft ground would be a worry for him – he would prefer better ground.

Willie Mullins, trainer of Polidam
He's in very good form. The trip and ease in the ground will suit and he should take to the fences well.

Emma Lavelle, trainer of Vibrato Valtat
He’s a high-class horse and I’m hopeful he can go well if taking to the fences. He could be a very exciting contender. He loves his jumping and Aintree. I’m just hoping the ground dries out a little.

Vibrato Valtat (right): appears to be dropping to a fair mark
Charlie Longsdon, trainer of Midnight Shot
I’ve always thought he’d go well over the National fences – if it was decent ground I’d be very hopeful, but the ease in the ground is a concern.

Ian Williams, trainer of Ballyalton
He’s been running well all season and ran a very good race at the festival. He came out of that race in great form and running him over the National fences has always been in my mind. He didn’t make the cut for the National but Tom [O’Brien] jumped off him at Cheltenham and said the Topham would be right up his street.

David Dennis, trainer of Deauville Dancer
I think he’ll stay and he’s a very good jumper, so I’m hopeful he’ll take to the fences. He’s better on a sounder surface but handles soft ground too.

Jimmy Moffatt, trainer of Highland Lodge
I’m very pleased with the going description – that combined with the trip will be ideal for him. He’s very well and we’re very hopeful.

William Kennedy, rider of Beau Bay
I schooled him over some National fences this morning and we were very happy with him. He hasn’t been out of the first three throughout the whole campaign, and if taking to the fences he goes there with a good chance.

Oliver Sherwood, trainer of Minella On Line
He was running a cracker before falling at Fakenham last time. The ease in the ground will be fine for him and he just needs a bit of luck in running.

Warren Greatrex, trainer of Theatre Territory
She’s been very consistent without winning this season and her form is very solid. She schooled really well over the National fences – she stays, jumps and has a nice low weight. I’m hopeful she’ll run very well.

Fergal O’Brien, trainer of Mystifiable
He ran really well over the National fences in December and loved jumping around there. He’s in great form, ran well over a shorter trip at Newbury last time and has a nice low weight.

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He ran his best race all season at Aintree in December and seems to love the track - that can go a long way
E.W. Terms
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