Cheltenham Festival winner L’Homme Presse steps into open firm for the first time when he reappears within the Betfair Exchange Rehearsal Handicap Chase at Newcastle om Saturday, stay on Sky Sports Racing at 3.25pm.
Venetia Williams’ seven-year-old, 10/1 for the Gold Cup at Cheltenham in March, was due to return at Ascot final Saturday, however drying floor noticed him withdrawn on the day and rerouted to Gosforth Park the place he will likely be tasked with carrying top-weight in what is usually a fiercely-competitive handicap.
The forward-going, super-slick jumper was ultra-progressive final season racking up 5 straight fences victories, which included triumphs within the Dipper at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day and the Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase at Sandown, earlier than stepping up to three miles with aplomb to land the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase at the Festival.
Although his season ended with defeat at Aintree, that was his sole false transfer in an in any other case glorious novice marketing campaign and his handler is trying ahead to seeing him again on observe.
“He has to give plenty of weight away to some good horses which will be a first for him, but it will be nice to get him back on the course and we look forward to his run,” stated Williams. “He ran well all last season and improved hugely during the course of the season. Now he has to compete at a high level and we look forward to seeing how he handles it.”
Popular defending champion Aye Right makes an attempt to do the double off a 6lb greater mark and joint-trainer Harriet Graham is optimistic of one other daring displaying following a decent reappearance when second at Kelso.
“We’re excited and hopeful and he seems really well at home,” stated Graham. “Obviously it’s fairly a tricky name and there is a couple on fairly a pleasant, low weight who look a bit progressive and clearly Venetia’s horse is there as effectively. Actually, we have been fairly happy about that because it meant the weights did not go up and is useful to us, however on the flip facet it’s a top-quality horse to take on.
“Kelso was a really nice prep run. He obviously got done at the wrong end of the race by what was probably a handily-handicapped horse, and it is difficult with him as he only ever runs one way, so it is kind of obvious what he is doing. If he gets a good start and gets into a good rhythm, then he can break the other horses’ hearts, but they are always slightly stalking him.
“But we’re very hopeful and Craig Nicol, who rode him rather well at Kelso, rides him once more.”
Sandy Thomson won the race in 2020 with Yorkhill and looks to win it for the second time in three years with Dingo Dollar, who was third to Aye Right 12 months ago and tuned up for this with an emphatic eight-and-a-half-length victory at Aintree earlier this month.
He said: “The handicapper hasn’t executed him any favours for beating a number of older horses and a few that did not keep (at Aintree). But he is very effectively and somewhat than lumping 12 stone round Haydock subsequent Wednesday, there may be nothing else for him. He’ll go and take his probability and he’ll run a pleasant race actually, however he is now 10 and within the veteran stage.”
Mark Walford’s Into Overdrive has proved extraordinarily versatile and appears to prolong a four-race successful run having taken his kind to the subsequent degree at Wetherby most just lately.
“He’s been fantastic,” the coach instructed Sky Sports Racing. “His seasonal reappearance at Wetherby was his best run yet after a little bit of a break and we’re expecting him to come on for that as well.
“He’ll be encountering softer floor at Newcastle, however that is one thing we have thought he’ll deal with – it should not be an excessive amount of of an issue.
“Us trainers are identified for moaning at the handicapper, however that was one scenario I used to be really fairly happy with – I believed he may have gone up a few kilos extra (after Wetherby). If he’d jumped the final three effectively, he’d have been an much more convincing winner.
“He got a bit lonely in front and we’ll be mindful of that at Newcastle.”
Kim Bailey’s Happygolucky was a runner-up at the Cheltenham Festival earlier than going one higher in a aggressive race at Aintree in 2021 however has an extended absence of 595 days to defy having missed the entire of the 2021-22 season.
Bailey stated: “I’m very happy with him. He was meant to go to Cheltenham two weeks ago. He did a nice piece of work earlier this week and we’re looking forward to it.
“Every coach goes around the bend (with the bottom). I really feel so sorry for these clerks of the course. All these racecourses are ingesting water like drunks.”