Grade 1 winner The Worlds End starts just where George wants him
Betfair Stayers' Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) | 2m7f | 4yo+ | ITV1/RUK
The Worlds End is not just the proverbial Graded horse in a handicap having won the Sefton Novices' Hurdle at Aintree in the spring.
That top-level strike put him at the top of the bookmakers' pecking order for a £100,000 heat now run over conventional hurdles due to a lack of appetite for races over the fixed-brush variety.
"We thought we'd stay over hurdles for the time being and if we reach our peak over them we've the option to go over fences," said trainer Tom George.
"I think he's a pretty versatile horse and he's got to cope with the heavy ground, but I think he can cope with most things; he's that type of horse.
"I'm sure there's going to be improvement, but he's done plenty of work, I'm happy with him and he's where I want him to be for his first run."
Pipe to pop the cork on Champers?
Three of the last seven editions of this have been won by David Pipe, whose Champers On Ice merits respect.
Pulled up in the National Hunt Chase in March, the seven-year-old bids to join Grands Crus, Dynaste and Gevrey Chambertain as Pipe winners.
"We've had this race in mind for a while," said in the trainer. "At Cheltenham he jumped badly, so it's a confidence booster before we hopefully go back over fences, but at the same time he's in good form, won't mind the ground and we've put a pair of blinkers on to sharpen him up over his hurdles as he's never been the most natural of jumpers. He's ready for action."
Trainers will have to declare wind surgeries from January but Colin Tizzard is happy to let everyone know The Dutchman has had one since joining his yard.
"We thought about going for the graduation chase on the card, but he's in this and works like a very nice horse," said Tizzard.
"He's had a wind operation - a tie-forward - since he's been with us as he was making a noise when he came, but he doesn't any more. Whether that'll improve him we'll see.
"We thought this was a nice start as he's down the bottom of the weights and it's a big prize - it's a lovely race to go for.
Mulholland Switch-ed on to Bowen
You do not need to be Hercule Poirot to realise James Bowen is a conditional jockey going places so it is no surprise his 5lb claim was wanted in a competitive handicap like this on Fingerontheswitch, whose trainer Neil Mulholland books the 16-year-old for just the second time.
What they say
Paul Nicholls, trainer of Silsol and Zarkandar
They're both pretty well exposed but do go well fresh and are quite good each-way prices.
Evan Williams, trainer of Gayebury
Nothing came to light after his last run at Wetherby, which was disappointing, brutally disappointing. We've put some sheepskin cheekpieces on him in the hope they spark him. I don't think a mark of 148 is workable on his last run, nowhere near. He ran in a handicap at the Cheltenham Festival off that type of mark and was tailed off and couldn't complete in a Graded race last time. I think we've no chance really.
Harry Fry, trainer of Minella Awards
He was very progressive in the spring and this will tell us whether we stay over hurdles or go chasing, but he's very well.
Philip Hobbs, trainer of Robbin'Hannon
He'll be well suited by soft ground. He was going to be running over fences but this is a big pot and we thought it made sense to go for it first.
Lizzie Kelly, rider of Le Rocher
He's a class horse and always has been. He had a very long layoff, but he showed promise last season and he's not carrying too big a weight. I think it's all to play for in this.
Nigel Twiston-Davies, trainer of Templeross
We've been running over fences and he jumped a bit slowly, a bit cautious, so we're back over hurdles. Trip and ground should suit him.
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