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Top jumps rider Gavin Sheehan has a plum ride aboard Oliver Sherwood’s course specialist, Dominateur in the Welsh Grand National on Saturday. Should the race go ahead, Sheehan is confident his ride can mount a serious challenge. Along with his thoughts on the race, Sheehan filled us in one some of his recent rides, including a very confident note about Saint Calvados. 

Dominateur schools well in final prep for Chepstow

“I worked him a couple of weeks ago up the grass and he seems to be in a really good place. I was down at Oliver Sherwood’s this morning and the horse schooled well. He’s won twice around there (Chepstow) and it would be nice to ride a big race winner there now for owners Kate and Andrew Brooks.”

“The race has been on our minds for quite a long time. He’s just a nice type of horse for a Welsh National. I was pleased with his run at Sandown first time and Laura Collett has done a great job with his jumping, it’s done him the world of good, so I’m really looking forward to the race.”

Don’t give up on a King George win for Saint Calvados

Harry Whittington’s Saint Calvados ran a cracking race to finish 4th in the King George on Boxing Day, his first start since finishing an unlucky second to Min in the Ryanair Chase last March. Despite a small cloud over the yard and the horse having an infection during his prep, Saint Calvados shaped with a lot of promise.

“First time up over that trip (of three miles) he just travelled a bit too well for me. It was his first run for a while and he was just a little bit gassy. But he travelled and shaped like the best horse in the race. 

Several horses didn’t run their races, but it means that the way we turned in and got there that I’ll be looking forward to going there again with him again next year. He didn’t have a great preparation going into the race, so the way he ran gives me hope he can go there again as a live contender.”

“It also shapes him up as a live contender for the Ryanair Chase again in March. But we know he stays and he’s opened up some more options for himself now.”

Rouge Vif in Queen Mother mix but step up in trip beckons

Rouge Vif was the highest rated novice chaser in Britain last season and all his first campaign in open company has lacked an explosion just yet, he remains on course for a crack at the Queen Mother Champion Chase in March.

“Rouge Vif is on course to go for the Queen Mother Champion Chase and it will be a fairly open race this year. Going forward, I would say he will be suited by a step up in distance but he remains an exciting horse going forward.”

Simply The Betts set for tilt at Denman Chase

The Denman Chase at Newbury is home to some of the best staying chasers, won by the likes of Native River, Clan Des Obeaux, Coneygree, Kauto Star and of course Denman himself in recent years. Next month, Cheltenham Festival winner Simply The Betts will take his chance with an intriguing step up in distance for Harry Whittington’s talented prospect.

“Simply The Betts is a horse I have a lot of time for having won twice on him at Cheltenham, including the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate Handicap Chase at the Festival in March. He beat Imperial Aura before that, so his form is solid. In the Paddy Power Gold Cup last time he made a mistake at the water jump and his chance never developed after that. 

But I think a step up trip will really suit him and it looks like he could be taking his chance in the Denman Chase at Newbury next month.”

GA Law still going the right way

“Jamie Snowdon’s star novice GA Law didn’t quite have the speed to get on terms with Allmankind at Sandown last time, but it was a good effort first time in a Grade 1. He remains open to further improvement when he steps up in distance again.”

We’d like to wish Gavin a good and healthy season ahead and of course the very best of luck aboard Dominateur at Chepstow on Saturday. Fingers crossed he runs his race and comes back safe and sound.

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