The turnout for this race this year is a bit disappointing. In recent years, the likes of Cue Card, Menorah, Silviniaco Conti have all won this race. Loveable grey One Man also won it twice in 1996 and 1997. Last year, Bristol De Mai and Blaklion fought out the finish to a thrilling race with Definitely Red back in third. The former went on to win the Betfair Chase by a whopping fifty seven lengths, Blacklion won the Beecher Chase at Aintree and Definitely Red won two grade twos.
In weeks before, this year’s Charlie Hall was tipped as a showdown between Bristol De Mai and King George winner Thistlecrack but both horses will not run due to the good ground. Regal Encore has come out this morning too leaving just four runners to go to post.
Definitely Red is the only runner of the four to not have won on good ground before as he is yet to run on it. Despite this, he has a live chance as he is one of the classiest horses in the line up and he stays all day. In the past, he has been one of the favorites for a Grand National and has won twelve times including over course and distance.
Black Corton gave Bryony Frost a brilliant season last year and the partnership won seven times including at grade one and grade two level. He goes really well on good ground and he often goes well fresh. In my opinion, he still needs to assert himself against more seasoned chasers.
Virgilio is partnered by another female jockey. Bridget Andrews. She won the County Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival on Mohaayed for Dan Skelton and she has been riding well all summer for him. Her mount in this is probably the outsider but it is a very tight race. He has won twice in good style over the summer, one being listed race at Uttoxeter, since falling in the Grand National and he seems very progressive despite being nine and could go close.
My selection is DOUBLE SHUFFLE. He put in an amazing performance to run Might Bite to a length in the King George on Boxing Day. Since then, he has been seventh in the Betway Bowl and fourth in the Oaksey Chase. This is his favored time of the year and he goes well fresh. His jockey, Adrian Heskin, has been in good form all week so that is a plus for his chances. The ground is on his side and hopefully he can break his winning drought.