Evergreen Invicta Lake can roll back the years at Wincanton
A competitive race sees three last-time-out winners involved, but it could be the most unexposed runner in the field, Militarian, who makes a winning handicap debut.
The eight-year-old has had just five starts under rules and went into the notebook after splitting the 144-rated Captain Chaos and 137-rated Ozzy Thomas on his chase debut.
Andrew Martin’s gelding may have been flattered to go down by under a length and was in receipt of 17lb, but it was enough to suggest he could be much better than a mark of 118.
He jumped soundly, enjoyed the deeper conditions and saw out the 3m trip well.
James Martin claims 7lb once more and Militarian, who also showed he acts on the track when not disgraced in a novice hurdle which has thrown up plenty of winners off higher marks, could be lurking under the radar.
Invicta Lake hasn’t won for more than three years, but the veteran has shown plenty of enthusiasm in recent starts and a reproduction of his latest second would make him tough to beat.
Suzy Smith’s 11-year-old has always had plenty of ability – he won a Grade 3 hurdle at Sandown off a mark of 123 in 2015 – but he’s clearly had his problems since.
However, his second behind Abracadabra Sivola at Kempton 11 days ago was a return to form and, off an unchanged mark of 109 at a venue where he has enjoyed success before, he could rediscover his touch.
He can take a chance at his fences and a bad error five out may have cost him at Kempton, while he was seven lengths clear when unseating his rider two out at Plumpton the time before that.
However, he has had just five starts over fences, so his jumping is entitled to improve.
Sotomayor beat two of his five rivals when winning at Lingfield last month but one of his victims, Dream Malfunction, can gain her revenge.
Joseph Tuite’s three-year-old is 3lb better off for her length beating – Mouchee was back in fourth – and there’s every reason to believe she was an unlucky loser.
The daughter of Mastercraftsman was the last horse off the bridle and when asked for her effort by Edward Greatrex she was stopped and forced to wait for a gap. As she lost all momentum, Sotomayor had stolen first run and put the race to bed.
However, that was her first start over 1m4f and when in the clear she picked up generously, suggesting there could be plenty more to come on just her second start for the Tuite yard.
She had some smart juvenile form in Ireland when with Joseph O’Brien – she was beaten just four lengths by the Group 1-winning filly Happily on debut – and should prove better than a 73-rated horse in time.
Champagne Rules returns to the track following a 147-day layoff, but the break is unlikely to stop Sharon Watt’s charge bringing up the hat-trick.
The grey gelding signed off last year with wins at Newcastle and Kempton – both under Connor Murtagh, who takes the ride again here – and the manner of his victories suggests there’s still more to come.
The seven-year-old dotted up by seven lengths over course and distance before following up off the same mark and a 9lb rise doesn’t look enough to thwart another success.
Champagne Rules has twice won following a layoff, so getting him fit enough to do himself justice shouldn’t be an issue, and the 5lb claim of Murtagh, who is 2-2 on him, should aid his chances.
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