Graeme McPherson feels Boldmere could be well-treated in his bid to lift the European Breeders’ Fund Matchbook VIP ‘National Hunt’ Novices’ Handicap Hurdle Final at Sandown on Saturday.
The assessor has given Boldmere a rating of 128 on the back of a victory at Market Rasen for his first handicap, which relates to a weight of 11st 2lb in the two-and-a-half-mile contest that carries a first prize of £42,000.
“He won very well at Market Rasen last time out with a few of these horses behind him,” said the Stow-on-the-Wold trainer.
“I don’t think the handicapper has been too harsh on him with a mark of 128. I think he’s probably got a few pounds in hand.
“I think he’ll love the track, he’ll love the ground and I can see him running a very nice race off that mark.
“It’s a competitive final with a full field of 18. It’s whether those few pounds in hand are enough.”
Olly Murphy believes he has three each-way chances in Garrettstown, Smackwater Jack and Skandiburg.
“Smackwater Jack got a strong ride to finish second in Taunton. He’s a hardy horse now and won’t mind the hustle and bustle of a big handicap,” said the Stratford handler.
“Garrettstown has probably got the most class out of my three, but whether he’s ready for the hustle of a handicap like this, I don’t know.
“Skandiburg hasn’t done much wrong. He’s got to step up on what he’s shown us so far, but the form of his last couple of runs have worked out well.
“We’ve got three outside each-way chances.”
Alan King has had this race in mind for Senior Citizen, who made a winning debut over hurdles at Chepstow in October and was fourth to Boldmere on his latest start.
”Senior Citizen is a promising young horse who will go chasing next season, but this race has been his target for some time,” the Barbury Castle trainer told www.alankingracing.co.uk.
“He has been running consistently and I was happy enough with his fourth at Market Rasen, a track which would have been plenty sharp enough for him.
“The greater emphasis on stamina at Sandown will play to his strengths, but the Esher slopes have taken a bit of a drenching this week and we could done without all that rain.”
King is hopeful of a good run from Eyes Right, who is the only four-year-old in the EBF Stallions/TBA Mares’ Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race.
“She was runner-up at Newbury in December and arguably improved on that performance when fourth at Ascot as she came out best of the four-year-olds,” he said.
At six, Redbridge Gold is one of the older runners and Jamie Snowden’s charge takes her chance on the back of a victory at Doncaster in January.
“She ran well first time out when she was second at Carlisle to Mega Yeats, who was then second in a Cheltenham Listed race,” said Snowden.
“She then went and won quite nicely at Doncaster. She looks ready for a step up in class.
“It looks a competitive race, but she deserves her place.”
As well as having high hopes for Boldmere, McPherson expects Ami Desbois to make his presence felt in the Matchbook ‘Best Value Exchange’ Handicap Chase.
“He has an easier task than last time, easier conditions. He should run a big race,” he said.
“I don’t think he’ll be far away. I’d love to see him get his head in front.
“He’s a horse that has had all sorts of problems last year. Just to get him back to the track has been fantastic this year and to see him run so well last time when he just got touched off over the course and distance was great.
“I think Saturday is a slightly easier task and I’d love to see him get his head in front.”