Doctor’s Orders For Kim Muir Chase
Punters looking to have a smash in the final race on Thursday will be licking their lips at the Kim Muir Handicap Chase (5.30pm), in which the Brits have dominated down the years, though Jim Culloty did strike in 2014, which will offer hope to Gordon Elliott’s followers.
Elliott’s Army Well Fancied
Elliott is responsible for three of the frontrunners in the market as things stand, namely Cause Of Causes (8/1), Free Expression (10/1) and Noble Endeavour (12/1).
Cause Of Causes won a 4m event at last year’s festival, but hasn’t shown that form in four outings since, including when beaten 25l a few weeks ago. One of the reasons money has come for him is that he has returned to the same mark as when runner-up in the 2014 renewal of this, and he could go close again if Elliott has him back in form.
Free Expression also has a bit to prove having been well held when last seen in a Grade 2 over Christmas (2m4f) and is still 0-3 over fences, while Noble Endeavour got off the mark on Boxing Day, and showed his wellbeing with a second in Grade 2 company last month. Runner-up in a handicap hurdle at the 2015 festival, Noble Endeavour looks set to run a big race.
Jonjo To Strike Again For Brits?
The Brits will be looking to Jonjo O’Neill to win it again, having struck in 2010. His 8yo, Upswing (10/1), proved himself over C&D when a close runner-up back in November, prior to being pulled up in the Welsh National. Rested since, Upswing is still fairly treated and has gone well fresh in the past.
Another trainer who knows what it’s like to win this handicap is David Pipe, who triumphed twice during the last five years, and his 8yo, Doctor Harper, has a solid chance at 10/1. A 3m winner over hurdles, Doctor Harper got off the mark over fences in January over 2m and will prefer the return to this longer trip. It’s also worth noting that Pipe was bullish about Doctor Harper’s chances in the build-up to Cheltenham, and he is respected.
It remains to be seen whether The Giant Bolster (14/1), runner-up and third in two Cheltenham Gold Cups, will take his chance in this, but he has plummeted in the weights and showed a bit more when runner-up last month.
Follow The 9yo’s
Finally, it’s worth noting that 9yo’s won eight of the last 16 renewals of this handicap, pointing up Colin Tizzard’s, Theatre Guide (14/1), who has to be a given a chance despite carrying top weight for his win in a valuable handicap at Kempton recently (3m, good to soft).
Gordon Elliott holds a strong hand, but with the Brits showing a good record in this, David Pipe’s improver, Doctor Harper, gets the nod.
He is unproven over this 3m2f trip, but Pipe was big on his chances during a recent preview.
*Prices correct at time of publication.