Dan Skelton is hoping Roksana can repeat her excellent Long Walk performance on her return to Ascot for the Matchbook Betting Podcast Mares’ Hurdle.
The nine-year-old was beaten only two lengths when third to Paisley Park in the Grade One over an extended three miles in December and runs against own her sex again on Saturday.
However, it will be no walkover – because the opposition includes Magic Of Light, winner of this race for the last two years.
“I’m delighted with her – it was a great run in the Long Walk over the course and distance,” said Skelton.
“Obviously Magic Of Light is the one to beat, but I’m also respectful of the others in there.
“I think it’s a strong mares’ race, but I’m very happy with ours.”
Magic Of Light, trained in Ireland by Jessica Harrington and runner-up to Tiger Roll in the 2019 Grand National, has already made a successful visit to Britain this season to win a Listed mares’ chase at Newbury for the third year running.
“She is going for a hat-trick in the race and is in great form,” said Kate Harrington, assistant to her mother.
“She is entered in the Gold Cup and the Mares’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, and mum is thinking of running her in the Gold Cup.”
Paul Nicholls believes Eglantine Du Seuil can give a good account of herself, with the help of a 6lb concession from the big two.
“She ran a cracker on her latest start for us six weeks ago in a competitive mares’ handicap hurdle at Cheltenham, where she came from off the pace to be second to The White Mouse,” Nicholls told Betfair.
“This is a new trip for her – and although I can’t be sure she stays three miles, she was keeping on well at the finish at Cheltenham.
“I’m hopeful Eglantine Du Seuil can run tidily, getting 6lb from two smart mares Magic Of Light and Roksana.”
Jeremy Scott is on a discovery mission with Dashel Drasher, who lines up for the bet365 Handicap Chase.
The Somerset trainer wants to find out if his lightly-raced eight-year-old can mix it with seasoned campaigners off his current mark in a competitive race such as this.
What Dashel Drasher has in his favour is a course-and-distance success on his latest start, albeit a three-horse affair.
“He’s come out of his last race really well. It’s very much to find out whether he’s at that level,” said Scott.
“We’ve only ever raced in those novice chases and a graduation chase, so how solid his handicap mark is we don’t know.
“It’s very much in a decent-sized field. I hope he runs well. I was pleased with the way he raced last time, but this will be a different proposition.”
Rose Dobbin has had this race in mind for Jonniesofa for some time – but did not expect it to be as competitive as it has turned out.
However, she reports the 11-year-old to be in good shape following his victory at Carlisle last month.
“He’s doing really well. He’s in great order. I’m very happy with him,” said the Northumberland trainer.
“We picked out this race a while ago, thinking conditions would suit him. Unfortunately, it seems to be quite a competitive renewal, but we’ll go and take our chance and see how he gets on.”
Skelton reports Bennys King to be in prime condition as he attempts to go one better than 12 months ago.
“He won there last time, (and) two-miles-five is a great trip for him,” said the Alcester trainer.
“He looks fantastic – this is the perfect race for him.
“He’s gone up in the handicap, which is making life harder, but I couldn’t be any happier with him.”
Nicholls was delighted to see Capeland return to winning ways at Wincanton, although it means he must race off a career-high mark.
“I was thrilled to see him bounce back to form with a stylish success a fortnight ago off a mark of 149 at Wincanton, back up in trip to two and a half miles,” he said.
“Capeland is now up to a career-high mark of 153 at a track which we know he likes, but he is another who wouldn’t want any more rain at Ascot.”
Tom Lacey is looking forward to having Kateson back on the track in the Matchbook Better Way To Bet Holloway’s Handicap Hurdle, for the first time in seven weeks.
The Herefordshire trainer believes the eight-year-old runs well when fresh, so has given him a break since he was successful at Aintree.
“He seems in good order. I think the trip on that ground will be right up his street, fingers crossed,” said Lacey.
“He’s a horse that runs best fresh. We’ve just been waiting to find the races for him.
Nicholls is confident of a strong performance from Danny Kirwan.
The Ditcheat handler said: “He has had one or two issues that have interrupted his career but is now in as good a place as we’ve had him for a long time, and it was great to see him show what he can do with a fluent victory over this trip at Ascot two months ago.
“Next time at Cheltenham he didn’t stay three miles. Danny has been working with Politologue and will be much happier back at this trip on testing ground that he relishes. I am expecting a big run from him in a competitive race.”
Source : Sky Sports