Published 29 March
Nicky Henderson had a significant work morning yesterday for several of the horses that ran at Cheltenham and with GOLD PRESENT apparently set to take up his engagement at Aintree, he's worth adding to the portfolio for the Randox Health Topham Handicap Chase.
The 7yo really took my eye when making a successful reappearance on his debut over fences at Doncaster in November to erase the disappointment of last season when he ran just three times and disappointed on each occasion.
A big, imposing gelding who had looked full of promise when winning a couple of novice hurdles the previous spring, he ran inexplicably badly at Kempton over Christmas but was much better when chasing home the smart Frodon back at the Sunbury track in February.
Clearly though, having jumped left there, he's better suited to anti-clockwise tracks, as he showed when running a blinder to finish second to heavily-backed Irish raider Tully East in the Close Brothers Novices' Handicap Chase at Cheltenham last time.
Gold Present travelled almost too strongly that day and encountered traffic problems in the straight yet still had enough in reserve to stay on gamely up the hill, suggesting he will have no trouble with this slightly longer trip on flatter terrain.
As at Donny he produced a series of impressive leaps at the Festival and that makes him an exciting prospect for the National course fences, with his scope for further improvement cancelling out the 5lb he's been raised by the handicapper.
Published 26 March
BOUVREUIL deserves to win a decent handicap after three high-profile near-misses and may finally get his reward in the Randox Health Topham Chase.
Paul Nicholls' 6yo was placed at the Cheltenham Festival for a third successive year when chasing home Road To Respect and Baron Alco in the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate just over a week ago.
Previously runner-up in the Fred Winter over hurdles and Close Brothers novice chase, it's pretty clear he's at his best in big-field competitive races, preferably on spring ground.
In the past two years, presumably due to lack of suitable alternatives, he's gone on to contest Grade 1 events at Aintree, starting a double-figure price on both occasions and not surprisingly finding the company a little too hot.
This time however he's got the Topham in his sights, with Nicholls quickly confirming on his website that it's likely to be his next race.
Bouvreuil also ran well in Cheltenham's two big 2m5f handicaps before Christmas - the BetVictor and Caspian Caviar Gold Cups - despite the ground being softer than ideal.
With his mark unchanged since last time, he looks to have a sound chance in a race that should suit given his good cruising speed and ability to jump well in a crowd scene off a strong gallop.
Nicholls appears to have a strong hand as he's also responsible for As De Mee, who won the Grand Sefton over these fences in December and appears to have been trained with this race in mind, having sidestepped Cheltenham. However he went up 8lb for that success and may not have quite the same scope for improvement as his year-younger stablemate.
Recommended Bet (scale 1-5 points):
Topham Chase, Aintree 7th April
1pt each way GOLD PRESENT ( 14-1 general)
Already Recommended Bet (scale 1-5 points):
Betway Lincoln, Doncaster 1st April
2pts each way MORANDO ( 12-1 )
1pt each way BRAVERY ( 25-1 )
Topham Chase, Aintree 7th April
1pt each way BOUVREUIL ( 16-1 Paddy Power, 14-1 general)
Randox Health Grand National, 8th April
1pt each way DOUBLE SHUFFLE ( 66-1 )
Qipco 1000 Guineas, Newmarket 7th May
1pt each way SEA OF GRACE ( 25-1 )
Gary provides regular ante-post updates on Twitter. His username is @horsetraderinfo.@horsetraderinfo