There are only nine runners scheduled to race but do not think that this will be run at a crawl with Frankie Figg likely to blaze a trail challenged by Soulard and with My Moment following them closely.
Lurking at the foot of the weights is the syndicate owned Neptune Equestor who has been given anticipated favouritism by the Racingpost. I am not sure that I would agree as this will be by far his toughest challenge to date and his previous form has all been in pretty moderate company. Could grab a place but I would be surprised if he found enough to win over this shorter than usual trip.
Another horse that may find this trip on the sharp side is the quite useful According To Pete who last season looked as if he required every yard of a three mile trip. This inadequate distance may well blow away the cobwebs and he could be interesting when the ground is softer later in the year.
Mister McGoldrick meanwhile is one of the grandfathers of horse racing and a duel winner of this race after successes in 2004 and 2007. Numerically that sequence is ready to continue but at the age of thirteen with a handicap rating slightly more than on both those two occasions it has to be deemed unlikely. He should run a good race though if fit and ready.
One of the big dangers in this race is one of the expected pacesetters Soulard who comes here having ran very well in himself towards the end of last season. With Frankie Figg likely to keep him company he will not get things all his own way and the tough Wetherby fences may induce a mistake big enough to lessen his chance. Previous form indicates he can take chances at some fences and Wetherby can be unforgiving if he has not learned from last seasons silly jumping mistakes.
The one for me here has to be Lease Lend who was thriving since having his racing methods switched to being held up towards the end of last season. Since this change in tactics Lease Lend has won three times in four starts and his winning streak only came to an end when greeted with bottomless ground at Haydock in the competitive Daffodil Chase.
This outing is a fair bit easier and with the severe likelihood of a strong pace he should be able to relax in rear. The ground is marginally on the fast side for him but it should not detract from the likelihood of a possible good run from respectable odds of 13-2. There is a distinct possibility that he can progress from his current mark and develop into an interesting prospect this season in better races.
The David Pipe trained Qulinton can be respected but at the age of just six will find this a test of his jumping and at such a young age it could prove too tough a challenge at this stage of the season.
Star Of Germany is handily handicapped and should be watched for possible betting movements as he has won a Listed handicap off the same mark of 129 previously. He has had things go wrong for him since then and has not shown the same sparkle in his two outings so far this season. Horse racing though is a funny old game and he cannot be fully discounted despite his expected SP.
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Pundit Pointer: (Updated 12.47)
3.20 - Wetherby - Lease Lend (8-1 Bet365)
Also available on Betfair currently at 9-1
Not alot of prices were available online when I wrote this up but BET365 have drifted Lease Lend to 8-1 from 13-2 now. These are pretty nice odds for a horse that may run well first time out. Betfair beats that price with 9-1 odds on offer!