RACE PREVIEWS & TIPS (THURSDAY)
Gibralfaro (NAP) has made frame in five of his seven career stats to date and he was only just denied by Onefitzall at Newbury back in November. That was the first time he had been tried at this sort of trip so he is well worth another chance on somewhat similar ground. Alan King and Wayne Hutchinson notched up a treble at Ludlow yesterday so with the yard in great form he has to command utmost respect. Whist he does have to give weight to some useful types, he is still improving and he has to be high on any shortlist this afternoon.
Protek Des Flos will likely prove popular as he is owned by JP McManus, trained by Nicky Henderson and partnered by Barry Geraghty. He will need to improve dramatically from what was his first start in the UK as he was beaten some fifty five lengths albeit in a slightly better race at Newbury. His best form in France came on bottomless ground and that is far from guaranteed here. Like the selection though he can improve and he looks a potential threat. Allee Bleu is also somewhat ground dependant. He loves it best when the mud is flying so connections will be doing a raindance before the off. If the rains descend, he too has strong claims.
GIBRALFARO (WIN) – NAP
Surf Instructor has already proven himself around here and is clearly going the right way. He made it third time lucky when allowed to dispute the lead last time before asserting himself in the closing stages. He won going away by three lengths indicating that a step up in trip wouldn’t do him any harm whatsoever. His last two races came in huge fields and that experience will stand him in good stead especially now that he tackles his toughest opposition to date. With the ground seemingly in his favour he looks to have strong each way claims.
Livelovelagh looks the biggest threat to the selection. He runs in the Rich Ricci colours and having endured a wretched winter with the loss of Vautour and subsequent injuries to Min, Faugheen and Annie Power, he would appreciate a welcome change in fortune. Ruby Walsh prefers him to Aussie Reigns and whilst he has never won over a trip this short, he is likely to make plenty of use on his mounts’ guaranteed stamina. Aussie Reigns won over a trip considered to be far short of his best last time and will likely appreciate this step up in trip. A classy sort on the flat, he too is likely to make his presence known and he cannot be entirely ruled out.
SURF INSTRUCTOR (E/W if 9/2+)
Written by Karl Hedley
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