'Because' has class to grind down rivals
Noel Glynn speaks highly of Becauseicouldntsee but the strapping gelding can speak for himself by winning the Peter Marsh Chase (3.15) at Haydock Park today. Despite its competitive appearance, the Co Clare trainer has found a good opportunity for his strapping eight-year-old.
Nina Carberry is an eye-catching booking for a horse on which she has twice gone close in the past.
The horse and jockey combination fared well when runner-up at the Cheltenham Festival but they advanced significantly when chasing home Majestic Concorde in the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown's Christmas meeting. Becauseicouldntsee is plainly on the upgrade and should revel in what are sure to be testing conditions.
The early-morning inspection scheduled at Haydock is described as "precautionary" and officials are confident of giving the green light to one of their seasonal highlights. Glynn will certainly be hoping so.
Becauseicouldntsee's excellent Leopardstown run showed that three miles around a tight track holds no fears. The anticipated strong gallop is also made to measure for a former Pointer which stays well beyond the three miles of today's race.
King Fontaine is favoured by the layers but this young horse faces the acid test here. One of his two course-and-distance victories came at Maktu's expense, but the latter now reopposes on 11lbs better terms after succumbing by a head.
The task looks beyond King Fontaine, while Maktu reappears just two weeks after tiring badly when running too freely in the Welsh National. That is not ideal.
Top weight Take The Breeze is up against it with jockey Harry Skelton no longer able to claim a riding allowance. It bodes ill for the trio of Frankie Figg, Buffalo Bob and Khachaturian that they are all inclined to force it.
And with Sa Suffit prone to errors, the way looks clear for Becauseicouldntsee to take the prize back across the Irish Sea.
The geography at Haydock Park is scarcely reminiscent of yesteryear, when a series of big fences rendered it a daunting test. The place is now infinitely less of a jumping examination, and that favours Robinson Collonges in the Liverpool Echo Novices' Chase (2.40).
The selection was in contention when blundering away his chance in the Vote AP Gold Cup at Cheltenham last time. He had earlier taken Wishfull Thinking's measure before falling at Wincanton, and can show highly rated Wymott the way home.
Master can reveal ditcheat well-being
Clive Smith, who endured a trying week after Kauto Star's King George eclipse, faces another test of character when Master Minded, which he also owns, bids to steady the listing ship in the Victor Chandler Chase (2.25) at Ascot.
Like Kauto Star, Master Minded has excelled in recent seasons. And like his French-bred stablemate, Master Minded has shown tangible signs of deterioration. Nevertheless, even with his official rating on the slide, he still has 15lbs and more in hand of today's opponents. He should win comfortably, although he doesn't warrant a bet at the likely odds.
The contest should open an informative window on the health of Paul Nicholls' string at Ditcheat. The champion trainer's strike rate has dipped this month and with Master Minded having trounced many of today's rivals at Cheltenham last time, any failure to confirm the form will enhance claims that Kauto Star may have been under par. Nicholls intoned as much on Wednesday when he said Kauto Star was suffering from a low-grade infection.
Smith, for his part, should refrain from opining that everything will be rosy when Ruby Walsh returns from injury to ride his faltering stars. Tony McCoy, who rides Master Minded today, did absolutely nothing wrong aboard Kauto Star. To suggest otherwise is to be, as the Australians like to say, a "good winner".