The rain has finally arrived and the clues are now coming thick and fast as the National Hunt gathers pace.
Few would have anticipated that two of the most eagerly awaited Irish horses, Samcro and Footpad, would have already suffered reverses, while by and large the British returns of such as Kalashnikov and La Bague Au Roi have gone smoothly.
While Footpad’s defeat by Saint Calvados might have an explanation because of an over-reach seemingly incurred by a mistake at the third, the fact he then all but hit the deck will have compounded any potential dent to his confidence going forward.
Harry Whittington, trainer of Saint Calvados, deserves great credit for not being afraid of taking on Footpad in his own back yard.
Having identified the race at Naas as the ideal Plan B after the rain arrived too late for him to run his stable flagbearer in the Haldon Gold Cup, he was rewarded with a performance that will now likely see Saint Calvados over the Sandown Park fences in the Tingle Creek.
A bold jumping front-runner is always a great sight over the seven fences in the back straight and even though it will clearly take another big step forward to lower the colours of Altior he deserves to take his chance.
Connections put on a brave face after Samcro’s reverse but given the impression he had made last season it was hard to agree with their view that he had been sent off too short giving weight to Bedrock and Sharjah
The Morgiana will provide further evidence but personally I will need to see him win another race before I would contemplate backing him.
Sometimes when horses build up long unbeaten sequences early in their career’s they can struggle to regain the winning thread once their invincibility has been compromised.
Black Jack Ketchum was a case in point, never looking the same horse once his winning sequence of eight had been ended.
On a more positive note, both Kalashnikov and La Bague Au Roi fenced perfectly well on their successful chasing debuts whilst Vinndication showed a really good attitude on his chasing debut at Carlisle on Monday to retain his unbeaten record. The horse that made the biggest impression on me last week was Thomas Patrick, just run down up the Sandown hill by Elegant Escape.
Whilst they, along with the disappointing Terrefort, are now at the top of Ladbrokes Trophy market it is the Welsh National that looks the ideal race for Thomas Patrick, as he loves the mud and gets into a nice rhythm out in front, tactics which always suit the race.
He is less certain to get those conditions at Newbury, so hopefully won’t compromise his mark for Chepstow by running too well.
Hopefully, these four will perform with credit on Tuesday:
Ran well at Wetherby last time when her rider was unable to claim she can gain a deserved success after a string of consistent efforts.
Clearly not the easiest to train but the return to 2m 4f should suit well after finding 2m too sharp at Fakenham when last seen. Despite being seven this his only his sixth career start so he is less exposed than plenty in this.
Twice placed off this same mark in his past two runs he looks well drawn to get a nice trail into the race from stall three behind likely pace setters Pearl Spectre and King Of The Sand.
Has dropped to a very appealing mark and the return to 5f here looks ideal. He travelled well over 6f last time and with plenty of pace in the race his hold-up tactics should be ideally suited. He appeals as the best bet of the day.