NAP: Gold des Bois looks a big player
Gold des Bois was racing from 8 lb out of the weights when making his debut for the Iain Jardine yard at Kelso 11 days ago, so it was a huge run under the circumstances to be beaten only two and a half lengths, sticking to his task well under pressure to snatch the runner-up spot close home.
That was a useful performance, much better than anything Gold des Bois achieved in three starts over fences when trained by Denise Foster. Crucially, the handicapper hasn’t had chance to reassess him after that Kelso run and he can race from his correct mark, so it goes without saying that is potentially very well treated. Still unexposed as a chaser, Gold des Bois may yet have more to offer and it will be disappointing if he can’t go one place better in these calmer waters.
NEXT BEST: Strong Team can take the spoils
Strong Team came up short in his hat-trick bid at Sedgefield two weeks ago, but he still ran at least as well in defeat as when recording either of his wins. He travelled strongly for a long way and made smooth headway approaching the third last before his effort flattened out, ultimately passing the post eight lengths behind the winner in third.
Strong Team can race from the same mark here and there was enough encouragement in his latest run to suggest he is still competitively weighted. Oakley Brown is able to take full advantage of his 5 lb claim as well, unlike last time when he was riding against other conditional riders. The pair have struck up a good partnership and another bold bid is expected in what looks a wide-open contest.
EACH-WAY: Gripper should go well again
Sword of Fate is likely to be a warm order to follow up his recent victory at Perth, but preference at the prices is for Gripper, who was in the process of running well (might have finished second) when falling at the last at Hexham two weeks ago. He is 2 lb lower in the weights this time and this will be just his third start over fences. He jumped well in the main before his exit at Hexham and, provided that tumble hasn’t knocked his confidence, it will be no surprise if he has a much bigger effort in the locker.