While they may be T & D respectively - The Fellow will be tuning up for the Gold Cup and Docklands Express is no doubt in decline at the age of 12 - it should be remembered that this course has provided them with their greatest moments.
The former, on 11st 13lb, is the topweight, but may not be at the top of his form. Francois Doumen, the French gelding's trainer, has warned that his nine-year-old, a dual winner over course and distance in the King George VI Chase, will benefit from the outing on his way to Cheltenham.
The temperature on the Continent was down to minus 10 degrees yesterday. 'We haven't been able to canter him today, but he did his main work on Saturday and I'm satisfied with him,' Doumen said.
Docklands Express, the winner of the Racing Post Chase in both 1991 and 1992, was yesterday reported ready for what could well be his last challenge for the prize. However, another previous winner, Zeta's Lad, was found to be sick after disappointing behind Black Humour at Windsor on Saturday and will not be defending his crown.
Both Jenny Pitman (Ryde Again and Toby Tobias) and Martin Pipe (Hawthorn Blaze and Fragrant Dawn) are expected to be doubly represented. Pipe, who won the race five years ago when Bonanza Boy appeared to come from somewhere outside the British fishing limit to take the race, had encouraging news about Hawthorn Blaze. The gelding made a pig's ear of Wetherby's fences on his reappearance earlier this month, but has been repaired mentally over the Wellington schooling obstacles and is expected to be a more relaxed competitor going right-handed at Sunbury.
Hawthorn Blaze, Carbisdale (Mary Reveley) and Rough Quest (Tim Etherington), are the front-runners in the market with the Big Three, but the best value appears to lie further down the list with Fighting Words, a 12-1 chance.
Josh Gifford, who revealed that Bradbury Star was still feeling himself back into Gold Cup contention, expects the lightly weighted Fighting Words (10st 1lb) to perform with distinction. 'He's in at Market Rasen as well, but he's reasonably treated and I think he's got every chance of running at Kempton,' the Findon trainer said yesterday. 'He's fine, very well indeed.'
Cab On Target had been a consideration for the Racing Post Chase before he started showing an antipathy for fences, but he will still appear on Saturday's card. Mary Reveley's gelding is a runner in the Rendlesham Hurdle as he builds towards the Stayers' Hurdle at the Festival.
Other Cheltenham entries on an alluring card include the Pipe-trained duo of Lord Relic and Devil's Den, who may oppose Mysilv, the Triumph Hurdle favourite.
Haydock's weekend feature, the Greenalls Gold Cup, carries with it a measure of deja vu, as five of the entries were horses who had been due to contest the twice-abandoned Eider Chase at Newcastle.
The informative Grand National trial has Moorcroft Boy, the second favourite for Aintree, as its early market leader, while Young Hustler and Garrison Savannah are others among the 15 acceptors, 11 of whom will be chasing the pounds 54,000 bonus for winning the National after finishing in the first three at Haydock.
RACING POST CHASE (Kempton, Saturday): Coral: 6-1 Carbisdale & Hawthorn Blaze, 8-1 Rough Quest, 9-1 Ryde Again, 10- 1 Cogent, Docklands Express & The Fellow, 12-1 Antonin & Fighting Words, 14-1 Cuddy Dale, Fragrant Dawn & Latent Talent; 16-1 others; Ladbrokes: 6-1 Hawthorn Blaze, 7-1 Rough Quest, 8-1 Carbisdale & The Fellow, 9-1 Docklands Express, 10-1 Antonin, Fighting Words & Ryde Again, 11-1 Cogent, 12-1 Fragrant Dawn & Latent Talent; 20-1 others; William Hill: 6-1 Carbisdale, 7-1 Ryde Again, 8-1 Hawthorn Blaze & Rough Quest, 10-1 Cogent, Docklands Express & The Fellow, 12-1 Antonin, Fighting Words & Fragrant Dawn; 16-1 others.
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