Honeyball hoping Ms Parfois can turn his season round

Mud-loving mare will have her conditions in Midlands National

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Anthony Honeyball hopes Ms Parfois can give his yard a much-needed boost with victory in the Midlands Grand National at Uttoxeter.

It has been a difficult season for the Dorset trainer after his stable was struck by a virus earlier in the campaign.

However, there have been shoots of recovery in recent weeks – with star bumper horse Acey Milan coming good over hurdles at Plumpton – and Ms Parfois certainly has strong claims on her best form in Saturday’s feature event.

The chestnut mare is a previous winner at the Staffordshire circuit, and rounded off last season with excellent efforts at Cheltenham and Aintree.

She finished a well-beaten sixth on her only previous start of the current campaign, in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury, but Honeyball senses she is coming back to form.

He said: “At last she has got her ground, and we know the distance will be fine for her because she has got some good form over four miles.

“She will love the tempo of the race, and I’m just really looking forward to getting her out again. She ticks a lot of boxes in my opinion.

“We’ve got her as good as we can get her at this point of the season, and we feel we have got her somewhere near to being back on track .

“I’m very happy where we are now. She has got that little bit of class for a race like this, and I hope she can go close.

“You would like to think she is up to winning a race like this.”

Milansbar filled the runner-up spot in this four-mile-two-furlong marathon in 2016 and again 12 months ago, and trainer Neil King believes he has every chance of making it third-time lucky.

“He’s been top-weight the twice he has run in it, and he’s a long way off top-weight this time – which is a big plus,” said King.

“He’s in very good form, and I was very pleased with his run at Newbury – I thought he was staying on well at the finish.

“He’ll love the ground and obviously likes the track, so I hope he should run a big race.”

Jammin Masters has run six times over fences for Warren Greatrex – and on every occasion he has filled the runner-up spot.

Greatrex said: “He has been waiting for soft ground all season – that is what he wants.

“He has run some good races, but he has just not had his ground because he really does appreciate it soft.

“He is in good form, and I’m confident he will stay. We will ride him with restraint and hope he can pick them off one by one.

“He is one of the least exposed horses in the race. He’s got a nice weight – there are not a lot of negatives – so fingers crossed he can do the business.”

There are three Irish challengers in the 20-strong field.

Fresh from claiming Champion Hurdle glory with Espoir D’Allen on Tuesday, Gavin Cromwell sends the 14-year-old Raz De Maree into battle – and believes he has plenty in his favour.

Cromwell said: “He seems in good form, and it will be the first time he’s had his ground this season.

“He gets in with a nice weight on his back, and I hope he’ll run a tidy race.”

Reflecting on his Tuesday triumph, he added: “It’s still sinking in, to be honest.

“I’m actually going home on Friday night, because I promised I’d bring my little lad on a day trip to Uttoxeter to see Raz De Maree. I’m flying home and then flying back with him on Saturday morning.”

Gordon Elliott saddles Folsom Blue – who is part-owned by Irish broadcaster and journalist Gary O’Brien.

“The trip and ground will suit him for the first time this season – he hasn’t really had his conditions of late,” said O’Brien.

“A lot will depend on how he jumps, because he can get behind in his races.

“Davy (Russell) hasn’t ridden him since we’ve had him, partly because he’s normally got a low weight.

“I’m never too confident, but there appears to be no real excuses this time and things are in his favour – although we might prefer a lower weight.”

The Irish challenge is completed by John ‘Shark’ Hanlon’s Kilkishen, who finished fourth in the Eider at Newcastle three weeks ago.

Hanlon said: “I’d definitely give him a chance.

“We weren’t sure he’d stay four miles the last day, but he saw it out well. We probably didn’t make enough use of him, and we’ll make more use of him on Saturday.

“I think the trip and the ground will suit him, and 10st 5lb is a beautiful weight, so I hope he’ll run a big race.”

Honeyball hoping Ms Parfois can turn his season round
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