Maria’s Benefit so impressive

January 27th, 2018 | Ian Carnaby's Racing News

Although Cheltenham stages ab excellent card on trials day, the safest short-priced favourite may be in action at Doncaster. MARIA’S BENEFIT was hugely impressive when hacking up by a wide margin at Taunton last time, beating horses trained by Paul Nicolls and Nicky Henderson, and will be hard to beat in Grade 2 Yorkshire Rose Mares’ Hurdle.

It will be interesting to see how short she is in the ring. I seldom play at odds on but she seems to have just one to beat in Alan King’s Dusky Legend and there is an overnight tissue quoting her at 8/11. I’d be prepared to play at 4/6 but definitely no shorter, so it may be a case of hunting the value from breakfast-time onwards.

No chaser impressed me more last term than Harry Fry’s American, who bolted up on his final outing and looked a star of the future. Fry’s horses had not quite hit form when American attracted support in the Ladbrokes Trophy, the old Hennessy, on his reappearance and he ran no race. I always feel horses can be allowed one outing like that and I think we shall see a very different performance in the Cotswold Chase. Incidentally, he was backed from 7/1 to 5/1 with Coral on Friday and the value is ebbing away. Things are never easy on Saturdays.

I disagree totally with the general view of Bristol De Mai, who I think is a heavy ground horse, suited by the bog-like conditions at Haydock. It didn’t surprise me when he failed in the King George and he looks very short indeed at 13/8 or so here. I’ve never really been into the exchanges, reasoning that they arrived a bit late for me and take up too much time, but this is a dreadful price about Bristol De Mai.

There are bits and pieces elsewhere. Donald McCain’s Viserion looked to have an each-way chance when fourth in Jenkins’ handicap hurdle at Kempton recently and the winner went in again at Ascot last time, making the form look pretty smart. However, although the overnight 20/1 looks on the generous side, this race is generally a pretty ‘warm’ affair with at least two or three laid out for it. Viserion is only

place and Placepot material.

Potters Legend is probably a shade too big at 20/1 in the intricate handicap chase, as well, because anyone might forgive his pulled-up effort in testing ground in the Mandarin at Newbury. Before that he made his move at the same time as the winner in the Ladbrokes Trophy and was from discredited in seventh. He is the type for a tiny each-way bet or at least a place in the Placepot combination.

The Cleeve Hurdle looks a modest affair to me (as does the Stayers’ Hurdle at the festival at this stage) but Agrapart may be able to reverse form with Wholestone on 3lb better terms after they finished first and second here last time. The very best of Agrapart would be good enough to win this but it has taken a long while to coax him back to his best. This is a suitable opportunity for him but he is an optimistic choice as opposed to a confident one.