MELISSA JONES SAYS: Local trainers look to strike on Chepstow home turf
7:00am Saturday 26th October 2013 in Sport
AN ARMY of Welsh trained horses are set fair to do battle on familiar territory this afternoon at what was a rain battered Chepstow earlier in the week.
The course seems to have taken the moisture pretty well, with the overnight ground conditions reported to be soft, good to soft in places.
Between them Tim Vaughan, Rebecca Curtis and Evan Williams saddle 11 runners and it would be disappointing if Wales goes home without a winner.
Dai Burchell and Nikki Evans add two challengers to the home team, of which I believe the horse with the best chance is arguably Lienosus in the 3.35.
Evan Williams’ seven-year-old was a smart third in this race last year and while he has some hot rivals, including the imposing Berkeley Baron who narrowly failed over the course last time, he has enough class to strike.
Paul Nicholls had a lean time of it at the last meeting here but the mighty trainer is pulling out all the stops to put that right today.
Just A Par, Caesar Milan, Virak and Rebel Rebellion are each to the fore at the top end of the market for the yard which regained the winning thread with Keltus on October 12.
Their subsequent runners on the card flopped, but Nicholls was back in the winner’s enclosure on a number of occasions at Cheltenham last week, including for me on Friday, which happily coincided with my birthday celebrations.
I’d expect today’s runners to be tuned up and of the four, Just a Par (2.25) appeals most.
As it’s a competitive race, punters might just get a reasonable price about the six-year-old, although I wouldn’t put the utmost faith in the bookmakers to be generous about one with a leading chance.
I’m always keen on horses which sport headgear for the first time like Boyfromnowhere, but none of the field can match the form of Just A Par’s eight length second to Wales’ best horse for many a year, At Fishers Cross.
Of course, the gelding must take to fences, but in a race like this that is the chance you take.
Rebel Rebellion can make it a brace of victories for Ditcheat in the 4.45, favoured by the lumps of weight he gets from Sire De Grugy.
Notus De La Tour was put up by this column on his last start 315 days ago in the feature handicap at Cheltenham’s December meeting.
His last two form figures look like he has lost the plot altogether, but a return to hurdles (4.10) might just spark a revival from this formerly classy sort, who finished third behind Flemenstar over the bigger obstacles in December 2012.
SELECTIONS: Chepstow 2.25 Just A Par (NB), 3.35 Lienosus (NAP), 4.10 Notus De La Tour, 4.45 Rebel Rebellion
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