Smarty Wild was the highlight of last weekend when winning at Kempton. He’s still a work in progress but his jumping was good apart from one error. He saw his race out really well, showing a good attitude, and I think 2m5f on a flat track suited him perfectly. He’s a big horse and is only getting it all together now, but he has the profile to keep improving.
Everglow finished his race off well in the Lanzarote but he probably just lacked that bit of experience. They went very quickly early and he just didn’t have the pace in the first part of the race. I was pleased with how he stayed on, though, and a stiffer track and even a step up in trip will help. He’s definitely a horse that will be able to win off this mark, he just needs a bit more match practice.
MEMPHIS BLEAK – 2.25pm
I haven’t ridden him before and even though he hasn’t won a race, he was placed back in September over course and distance and he’s seven pounds lower now. It’s a competitive novices’ handicap and he has a small each-way chance.
ADRIMEL – 2.25pm
I was very impressed with him at Sandown on his seasonal debut where he loved the soft ground and the stiff uphill finish. Last time at Haydock he got the job done nicely in the end but I felt afterwards that he wanted a step up in trip, so the Leamington Spa looks the perfect race for him. I know he has to carry a three-pound penalty, but the combination of heavy ground and the step up to 2m5f should be absolutely perfect.
You normally get five or six runners in this race, so it’s a particularly big field this year with 12 but I hope that may actually work to our benefit as they should go a good pace and we can take a lead. David Pipe’s Make Me A Believer won at Cheltenham last time and he looks an obvious danger. There are plenty of others who have some decent form but I think Adrimel deserves to be favourite and I certainly wouldn’t swap him for anything else.
DJANGO DJANGO – 3.00pm
It’s nice to pick up a ride for Jonjo [O’Neill] in the Classic Chase and his horses are in great form. Django Django won at Newbury over three miles on heavy ground a year ago so he won’t have any problems with the forecast rain. It’s sure to be very testing at Warwick after the week we’ve had and he’s off 10 stone which is always handy in a staying handicap chase. He looks to be a lively outsider. This is always a wide open race and there are plenty in there with a chance.
ESPION – 3.35pm
He had some decent form last season, finishing third to Fiddlerontheroof in a novices’ hurdle before winning impressively on heavy ground at Uttoxeter in March over 2m4f. He was a bit disappointing on his reappearance at Chepstow but his last two runs at Sandown have offered some encouragement. We always thought he wanted a trip and he stayed on nicely up the hill behind Portrush Ted on Tingle Creek day.
We think he’s on a fair handicap mark and I could definitely see him running a big race. As ever, these qualifiers are hugely competitive and you wouldn’t be surprised if any of them won it.