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Darran

Hunter Chase - 4.30 Doncaster

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I was pretty annoyed that Musselburgh lost their big Cheltenham trials meeting not because it meant we lost a Hunter Chase, but because I really fancied Wonderful Charm for the Edinburgh National. The race looked perfect for him and I think he is a well handicapped horse at the moment. That wasn't to be and he now turns his attention to Hunter Chases again and I think he should win this race fairly comfortably. Last season might look a bit disappointing at first glance as he was well beaten at Cheltenham and Aintree, but you can ignore those efforts because the ground was way too soft for him. Indeed Paul Nicholls in a question and answer session on Twitter tonight said he will only go to Cheltenham this year if it is good ground. The ground was over watered at Stratford and I think he showed in 2017 that Stratford isn't his track, but to be fair he ran pretty well in the circumstances to finish 3rd as he did in the race the year before. The Fontwell win in May came in a pretty weak race, but he won without coming out of first gear and it showed that when he gets his ground he still has plenty of ability. He will certainly get his ground here and you can be pretty certain that he will be fit given Nicholls was keen on his chances at Musselburgh before it got called off.

Most of the opposition is nothing to write home about. Upswing followed his 4th at Warwick up with a stinker of a run at Ludlow and clearly isn't a 127 horse at the moment. Boa Island has been 3rd in 3 Mens Opens this term but that is miles away from being good enough to beat Wonderful Charm and Flugzeug wouldn't win if he started now. That leaves the only serious rival as Forgotten Gold. He is actually rated 9lbs higher in the handicap and has to only carry 11-7 including his jockey's claim compared with Wonderful Charm's 12-4. On that of course he should be a good thing himself, but he is 13 now and hasn't run since October 2017. That day at Wincanton he was a good 2nd to Mr Mix who I saw win at Charing on Sunday. At the age of 13 though off such a long lay-off I struggle to believe he is going to be anywhere near up to running to that mark and for me I can't see him being good enough to beat Wonderful Charm.

If it did come up good at Cheltenham next month Wonderful Charm probably wouldn't be without a chance and I am not surprised he has been backed into 8/11 for this race. I actually think that is still value because he only has one other horse to beat and I am pretty confident he will do so.

Wonderful Charm 3pts @ 8/11 with Bet365 and most other bookies

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If only all races were as simple as that! The most surprising aspect was the drift. I can only think when the rain came people decided to lay it, but it was never going to have got into the ground that much and it was such a weak race it was unlikely to matter anyway. It went off odds against on Betfair which really was a gift for those that took it. There was never a moments worry as he sauntered to a 55L success. It was interesting to read that Sam is set to ride Road To Milan over Wonderful Charm in the Foxhunter so that obviously means he thinks that one holds the stronger claims, but as I said in the preview if we got good ground in 3 weeks time I can see Wonderful Charm not being far away. He reminds me a lot of Paint The Clouds who used to use this race for a Cheltenham prep as well. 

There isn't really a great deal you can say about the rest and I'm not sure any of them look like future winners. God knows who was backing Upswing which was the on the course gamble as he should never have been a 4/1 shot and he duly finished last of the 4 finishers.

It really has been a superb start to the season and to have made a profit on 8 of the first 10 races is very pleasing. I'm sure it won't go this smoothly the whole season, but the good run has set things up nicely for the remainder of it.

The next race is at Fontwell on Sunday which is likely to see Shantou Flyer bid to qualify for Cheltenham.

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