'When we bought him I thought this would be his race' - Sussex National quotes
Sky Sports Racing Sussex National Handicap Chase (Class 3) | 5yo+ | 3m4½f | Sky
So much about staying chasing is about finding a good rhythm and it is probably no coincidence four of the last five winners were ridden prominently.
Although this race usually presents a stiff test of stamina, being able to travel well near the head of affairs has been an advantage.
Seaston Spirit is one among the 12 runners who should be up in the firing line and his attacking style, allied to a record of four wins from his last five starts, makes him a likely candidate for the shortlist.
That is not to say waiting tactics can't pay around Plumpton, and Salty Boy has one of the best pieces of recent form in finishing third when staying on from the back in the Tommy Whittle Chase at Haydock before Christmas.
The time before that he never quite appeared able to lay up with the pace in a novice handicap at Ascot won by Demachine, and the hope has to be a further step up in trip will suit David Bridgwater’s candidate.
Benevolentdictator was held up for much of the way before bolting up at the track over an extended 3m1f in December.
That performance, as well as the fact he is one of two runners for local favourite Gary Moore, is bound to make Benevolentdictator popular in the market and at the age of seven, he should still have improvement to come.
Moore won this race in 2013 and 2014 and is also represented by Cheque En Blanc.
Of the other horses who arrive here in good form, Special Acceptance deserves a mention for having won at the track last time out, while Dawson City went down by only a head at Exeter over 3m6f having tracked the leaders throughout.
Defi Des Carres represents the X factor in the line-up, having gone down by just a neck over the cross-country course at Cheltenham on his debut for Charlie Mann.
What they say
Charlie Mann, trainer of Defi Des Carres
It was a bit frustrating to get beaten but he ran well at Cheltenham and if he can translate that form to fences, he should run all right. He went up 5lb for not winning, but it's the right race as there's no other cross-country before the festival.
Oliver Sherwood, trainer of Seaston Spirit
He was always a nice horse at home but was disappointing early on in his chasing career. He suddenly just clicked and off he went. I wanted to go to Haydock last Wednesday, but that was abandoned and Plumpton wouldn't be my ideal course for him – he'd like more of a galloping track in my opinion – but he does like the soft ground and the staying trips, so he goes in a good frame of mind.
David Bridgwater, trainer of Salty Boy
The Tommy Whittle is historically a good race and I thought the other day, even counting the front two, he was the only one finishing off the race properly, so the extra trip isn't going to worry him. My only concern is it is only 15 days ago. He is fresh and is bucking and squealing, but we won't know until we hit the final circuit. He's in really good nick and when we bought him I thought this would be his race.
Gary Moore, trainer of Benevolentdictator and Cheque En Blanc
It's a big jump up in class for Benevolentdictator after winning a pretty moderate race the other day. Whether he's up to this standard, we'll find out. He kind of acted on the track, although I don't really think it's quite his cup of tea. It's a tricky contest but he's in good order and hopefully he'll give a good account of himself. Cheque En Blanc has won here before. He was a little bit disappointing the other day and needs more aggressive handling, which I'll be telling Niall [Houlihan]. It's not his style of racing to be ridden handy. They've both got the same sort of chance.
Paul Webber, trainer of Special Acceptance
He's stepping up in trip but I don't think that will be a problem. He handles the ground and ran all right around the track. He'll have to find a little bit of improvement but it looks like the right race and the right contest.
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