Hopes high for Shantou Village in high-class renewal of Old Roan Chase

Sun 29 Oct 2017

Neil Mulholland feels Shantou Village could take his game to another level this season ahead of his return to action in the 188Bet Monet's Garden Old Roan Chase at Aintree.

The Grade Two-winning hurdler won four of his five starts over fences last season, his only defeat coming when falling in the Rising Stars Novices' Chase at Wincanton.

Despite his success, Mulholland believes his charge was never in peak condition last term and hopes he can produce even greater things this winter.

"He seems very well and we're looking forward to getting him started," said the trainer.

"Even though he won four of his five races last season, I never felt he was right. He feels good now and we're happy he probably didn't have the hardest of years last year.

"He's rated 147 at the moment, that's after his novice year, so you'd like to think he might just improve a bit.

"Hopefully he can do the talking."

The Malcolm Jefferson-trained Cloudy Dream mixed it with the very best as a novice last season, filling the runner-up spot in the Lightning Novices' Chase at Doncaster, the Arkle Trophy at Cheltenham and the Manifesto Novices' Chase over this course and distance.

He enjoyed his day in the sun when landing the Future Champion Novices' Chase at Ayr in April and makes his first appearance since in this two-and-a-half-mile Grade Two.

Ruth Jefferson, assistant to her father, said: "He's in good form and ready to start off.

"He's run well at the track before and he likes good ground, so we're hoping he'll run well.

"Our horses tend to come on for their first run, but we won't know if he'll need it until we run him.

"He's been in a long time cantering, so hopefully he's fit enough to do himself justice."

A high-class field of 13 runners also includes Tom George's dual Grade One winner God's Own and the Nick Williams-trained Tea For Two, who won the Betway Bowl at Aintree under Lizzie Kelly last season.

God's Own won the Melling Chase at this venue in the spring of 2016 before going on to land the Champion Chase at Punchestown.

He failed to add to his tally last season, but ran some tremendous races in defeat, notably finishing second in this race and most recently finishing third when defending his Punchestown crown.

George said: "He is in great form. It is a good starting point to the season for him and it looks like he will get the ground he likes up there.

"We will probably be stepping up in trip this year instead of going the other way. He has always been crying out for it and now we have got to bite the bullet and go for it.

"He was not beaten far in quite a few Grade One races last year. He was quite solid and you can't knock that. Any Grade One race they run in is a tough race.

"He has done plenty, but I haven't overcooked him and I'm sure he will come on like they all do."

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