Oliver Sherwood is hoping the handicapper’s assessment proves correct when Dominateur steps up to Grade Two class in the William Hill Towton Novices’ Chase at Wetherby.
The seven-year-old is the highest-rated horse in Saturday’s six-runner field – on a mark of 145, after winning his last two starts over fences at Chepstow.
Sherwood believes this three-mile test is the right race for Dominateur to aim at for the next stage of his education.
“It’s the obvious target to go for, off his rating,” he said.
“Like all trainers, we think the handicapper has been a bit heavy-handed. Time will tell if he is right or wrong.
“He gets the trip well, and I was quite impressed with him last time out.”
Dominateur has continued to fare well at home since the second of his chase wins, over Christmas.
Sherwood added: “We haven’t had any blips since Chepstow.
“He’s just a joy to train, so it’s onwards and upwards. He’s going there with a live chance.
“He takes a bit of knowing. He only does what he has to do – which is great, (and) means he has plenty in the locker, God willing.
“I’m very happy with the horse. It just depends whether the handicapper has got it right or not. If he’s right, then he’ll go very close.”
Caroline Bailey is also testing the water with Boldmere after two clear-cut victories in handicap company.
The seven-year-old has looked a decent recruit, in winning by 12 lengths at Leicester and 10 lengths at Doncaster.
“He’s gone up 19lb for two runs – so whether he’s up to that level, we’ll find out tomorrow,” said the Northamptonshire trainer.
“He’s very straightforward – he’s very fit and well. It’s just a very competitive race on paper, so we’ll learn a lot more where he is, but we’re happy with him. He’s schooled well, and it will be an interesting race for him.
“He’s probably better going for this race than giving away two stone in a handicap. He seems very progressive.”
Kim Bailey reports Newtide to be ready to return to action for the first time since winning a three-runner novice chase at Ffos Las on his fencing debut in November.
“He’s stepping up in grade, and I’m happy with him,” said the Gloucestershire handler.
“It’s a long time since he ran, but I’m pleased with him.
“It’s a very open race, and I think Oliver Sherwood’s horse is the right favourite.”
Dan Skelton’s Ardlethen has good course-and-distance form – having finished second to Sam Spinner – while Charlie Longsdon’s Just Your Type and Chapel Stile, from Nicky Richards’ stable, complete the sextet.