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A contest that usually goes to progressive chasers and MISTER WHITAKER looks to fit the bill. Mick Channon's gelding improved 27lb in the handicap last season with his season ending with success over C&D in the Close Brothers at the Festival when denying Rather Be by a head. Despite the fact the latter is 9lb better off on this occasion, the former produced an excellent performance on his return 13 days ago in the Colin Parker Memorial at Carlisle, beating Happy Diva by two and a quarter lengths, and still looks to have further improvement in him. The aforementioned Rather Be will appreciate a sounder surface to what he encountered for most of last season and bids to give Nicky Henderson his second victory in the race after Fondmort in 2003. Baron Alco and Benatar both hold solid claims for Gary Moore, but the pair have a couple of questions to answer with the former needing to back up a fine effort when second to Charbel at Chepstow after a long absence and the latter needs to be less headstrong to aid his cause. A safer each-way proposition looks to be Old Roan winner Frodon. Paul Nicholls' gelding has a fine record in handicaps of this nature, winning two around here, and cannot be discounted despite a 3lb rise in the weights.
KALONDRA has long since threatened to win a race of this nature, and with conditions likely to be in his favour, is fancied to enhance the fine record of second-season chasers in this race. Rather Be and Mister Whitaker look obvious threats, while Movewiththetimes is another who has the ability to be involved at a bigger price.
|Year||Going||Ran||Winner||Draw||Age||Weight||OR||Form||Last run||Trainer (Distance)||Jockey||SP||Time|
|2017||Soft||17||Splash of Ginge||9||10 6||134||12500-4||15 days||N Twiston-Davies (1 miles)||T Bellamy||25/1||5:23.20|
|2016||Soft||17||Taquin Du Seuil||9||11 11||156||49165-6||35 days||Jonjo O'Neill (1 miles)||A Coleman||8/1||5:16.10|
|2015||Good to Soft||20||Annacotty||7||11 0||147||8-3P10F||218 days||A King (44 miles)||I Popham||12/1||5:12.40|
|2014||Soft||18||Caid Du Berlais||5||10 13||143||21532-7||108 days||P Nicholls (69 miles)||S Twiston-Davies||10/1||5:25.50|
|2013||Good||20||Johns Spirit||6||10 2||139||26733-1||28 days||Jonjo O'Neill (1 miles)||R McLernon||7/1||5:07.50|
|2012||Soft||18||Al Ferof||7||11 8||159||1-11343||219 days||P Nicholls (69 miles)||R Walsh||8/1||5:25.75|
|2011||Good to Soft||20||Great Endeavour||7||10 3||147||41-62F6||217 days||D Pipe (100 miles)||T J Murphy||8/1||5:01.20|
|2010||Good to Soft||18||Little Josh||8||10 8||146||F1F16-1||13 days||N Twiston-Davies (1 miles)||S Twiston-Davies||20/1||5:12.80|
|2009||Soft||16||Tranquil Sea||7||10 13||148||1556-21||14 days||E J O'Grady||A J McNamara||11/2||5:23.50|
|2008||Soft||19||Imperial Commander||7||10 7||139||173-114||337 days||N Twiston-Davies (1 miles)||P Brennan||13/2||5:17.34|