Kauto Stone versus Riverside Theatre is tomorrow’s match of the day at Ascot (3pm) and Kauto Star’s lesser known little brother gets the nod from me.
He looks good around the 2-1 mark but at even better odds 6-1 shot Giles Cross is taken to get the success he so richly deserves in the Betfred Grand National Trial Chase at Haydock (3.20pm).
Run over three-and-a-half miles on soft ground, this contest will be a war of attrition and it’s a fair bet that less than half the field will even finish.
It’s also a reasonable shout to expect Gilles Cross and Le Beau Bai to fight out the finish but, unlike last time in the Welsh National, hopefully this time Gilles Cross can come out on top.
Victor Dartnall’s 10-year-old was our nap back in December and looked set to be a brilliant one when stringing out the field with a brave front-running performance at 15-2.
He was ultimately grabbed and passed at the final fence by Le Beau Bai, but with Giles Cross now seven pounds better off and over a slightly shorter distance, compensation might await.
Dour grinder Le Beau Bai probably stays five miles never mind four and tomorrow’s slight shorter trip than the Welsh National will surely not be in his favour.
He also seems to save his best for Chepstow – he has won there three times during his career.
Haydock, on the other hand, represents something of an away match and the beauty with Giles Cross is we know that he will charge out in front and hopefully this time stay there.
Odds of 6-1 just looks a nice price about this likeable animal getting the big-race success he so richly deserves.
The National trial is the highlight of a fine card at Haydock in which Triumph Hurdle entry Lexi’s Boy will be well fancied for Donald McCain and Jason Maguire in the first (1.35pm).
It could be a good meeting for McCain with Real Milan (2.10pm) and Reindeer Dippin (2.45pm) also having decent chances.
Paul Nicholls and Ruby Walsh, meanwhile, look like being the double act to follow on Ascot’s classy card and Kauto Stone is fancied to make a name for himself in his own right in the Betfair Scot Chase.
It has to be said that main market rival Riverside Theatre won very impressively when last seen in this race last year and it looks like the Nicky Henderson camp have laid him out for a repeat.
However, he will need a much better performance than last year’s to deny Kauto Stone who ran a corking race for one so inexperienced last time when only brushed aside by Sizing Europe.
That one now looks banker material for the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham and as Kauto Stone is only six he is also open to bags of improvement.
Walsh and Nicholls also have fine chances with Silviniaco Conti (1.50pm) and The Minack (2.25pm), while the best bet on the all-weather looks to be Jeremy Noseda’s Roxelana (1.40pm) who will likely follow stablemate Burke’s Rock’s example by going in at the second time of asking.
How refreshing though that at long last there is so much more to tomorrow’s racing than just the sand stuff.