Gary recorded a level stakes profit of +25 pts for his Cheltenham Festival Long Range Forecasts which found winners Al Boum Photo (14-1), City Island (12-1) and Topofthegame (7-1) plus each-way placed runner Sceau Royal (14-1).
Updated 30/03, 01/04 - all selections online
BALLYHILL appeals as the right type for the Randox Health Topham Handicap Chase given he’s a strong-travelling, sound jumper with a decent level of form.
Nigel Twiston-Davies’s eight-year-old has been a model of consistency this season (apart from needing his first run) and is set to return to the scene of his victory on the Mildmay course here in the autumn.
Making the most of a drop down to Class 3 company that day, he ran out a comfortable winner and showed he could remain competitive in this higher grade with two solid thirds at Cheltenham off much higher marks.
The handicapper has actually eased him 2lb from his January high of 144, offering further encouragement he can transfer that smart form to the Grand National fences.
Effective on most types of ground, there are no ‘Festival factor’ concerns following his 11th hour withdrawal from the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate and he’s due to arrive as a relatively fresh horse.
When last seen, in February, he finished a well-beaten third of four behind Clan Des Obeaux in Ascot’s Denman Chase, but that was to be expected considering he was meeting the first two home on 28lb and 17lb worse terms than if it had been a handicap.
The return to a flatter track and better ground could see KNIGHT IN DUBAI resume his upward curve in the Merseyrail Handicap Hurdle.
Dan Skelton’s 6yo finished out of the money in the Coral Cup last time but travelled strongly for a long way under a wide trip, leading from three to two out.
Harry Skelton was noticeably easy on him in the closing stages that day, suggesting Aintree was very much in mind once his winning chance had gone.
In the circumstances it was a better effort than his finishing position of 13th suggests to be beaten under 12 lengths and this less demanding test looks sure to suit.
Previously he was beaten only a neck on his handicap debut in Class 2 company at Newbury and with only six hurdle starts to his name there should be more improvement to come off this 3lb higher mark, the handicapper having dropped him a pound since Cheltenham.
Recommended BetS (scale 1-5 points):
RANDOX HEALTH TOPHAM HANDICAP CHASE
1pt each-way BALLYHILL (25-1 Coral, Ladbrokes, 16-1 general)
MERSEYRAIL HANDICAP HURDLE
1pt each-way KNIGHT IN DUBAI (20-1 Betfair Sportsbook, BetVictor, Paddy Power, 16-1 Coral, Ladbrokes, William Hill)
RANDOX HEALTH GRAND NATIONAL
1pt each way ROCK THE KASBAH (33-1)
Gary provides regular ante-post updates on Twitter. His username is @horsetraderinfo.@horsetraderinfo