Valleres Ready to Strike at Leicester

There is Grade 1 action on both sides of the Irish Sea today, but we begin at Newbury where there is a terrific card with a terrific renewal of the Mandarin Handicap chase over a trip just shy of 3m 2f.

The 4-y-old Saint Palais has been a revelation since being switched to fences but he has been raised 10lbs for landing the odds at Wetherby earlier in the month and my two against the field are Gericault Roque (2.35) and Wayfinder with marginal preference for the David Pipe trained runner. 

The selection finished runner up to Pat’s Fancy at Chepstow last month and the winner followed up at Chepstow on Monday from a 10L higher mark. With that in mind a 4lbs rise for the each way selection looks fair; the 9/2 with BoyleSports 4 places looks fair.

Rebecca Curtis trains Pat’s Fancy, and she saddles Wayfinder who was brought down on his seasonal reappearance at Bangor-on-Dee. He is 11/1 with William Hill. 

Stan Shepherd will be riding with plenty of confidence after his Welsh National win aboard Iwilldoit earlier in the week and I expect to see a big run from Fern Hill in the novices’ handicap chase. 

He must go close but marginal preference is for Valleres (3.35) who is fitted with cheekpieces for the first time by Alan King having failed to fire at Newcastle last time. He is best judged on his third here on his chase debut when he looked as if a stiffer test on softer ground would suit. He is 2lbs lower in the weights today and the 17/2 with William Hill looks a decent each way price.

A cracking card at Kelso and Cooper’s Cross (1.52) will appreciate the slight drop back down in trip having looked a non-stayer over just shy of three miles at Newcastle last time. The winner has franked the form despite finishing only third at Taunton next time and the winner is likely to be played late by jockey Sam Colthard for his dad Stuart. 

Ruth Jefferson’s progressive chaser Sounds Russian heads the market, but he is held by the each way selection on Sedgefield running from earlier in the campaign. 

The 9/1 for Cooper’s Cross with bet365 looks fair.