Valuable Scottish prize an ideal target for Two Taffs
Hillhouse Quarry Handicap Chase | 5yo+ | Listed | 2m4f | RUK
Cheltenham Festival third Two Taffs has yet to win a race over fences, but Dan Skelton has found him an excellent opportunity to do so in a race that's well worth losing his novice status for.
The seven-year-old was well backed when beaten only a length and a half by Tully East in the Close Brothers Novices' Handicap Chase - one of the most fiercely contested races of the meeting - and the cheekpieces and tongue tie which appeared to work so well there are back in place for a second time. So too is jockey Davy Russell, who had never been on him before Cheltenham.
Top weight Theinval also boasts strong festival form, having been third to Rock The World in the Grand Annual, since when he has chased home Double W's in Aintree's Red Rum Chase, again over two miles. Warriors Tale bids for a hat-trick after two wins at Newbury over this trip at Newbury last month.
The Grey Taylor represents Brian Ellison, Danny Cook and owner Phil Martin, who took this a year ago with Definitly Red, severely hampered when a leading Grand National fancy.
Father and son
Promising young conditional Harry Reed bids for the biggest prize of his career on Indian Temple, who returned from serious injury to make all over the course and distance in October and is trained in the Borders by his father Tim.
What they say
Paul Nicholls, trainer of Warriors Tale
This has been the plan since Newbury. The owners live in Scotland, which is ideal, and he's already won at Ayr. He likes a flattish track and the ground should be fine for him. He's a horse who wants decent ground.
Dan Skelton, trainer of Two Taffs
This looks a good opportunity after going close at Cheltenham. The faller at the top of the hill probably cost him a couple of lengths, but I can't say he was unlucky as he can't hit the front too late. But he won at the meeting last year, so the track suits him, and he loves this trip.
Philip Hobbs, trainer of Drumlee Sunset
He had a mid-winter break, as he doesn't want it very soft, then came back at Exeter last month. Going left-handed will suit him better, and he'll hopefully run well, but he faces a couple of in-form and improving rivals who could be hard to beat.
Tim Reed, trainer of Indian Temple
You can ignore his last run, as he came back with a severe virus. We declared for Musselburgh in February, but he knocked a joint, since when we've been aiming him here. He's had a racecourse gallop and is as fit as I can get him without a race. I hope he still has the potential to go further up the handicap.
Brian Ellison, trainer of The Grey Taylor
He had a second wind op before Doncaster, where he ran well but needed the race, then at Aintree last time it all happened too quick for him. We're stepping him up in trip now, and the smaller field will suit, but we can't be sure yet the operation has done the trick. If it has he's thrown in.