Monbeg Dude and Bradley, first and second in the Murphy Group Handicap Chase at Cheltenham twelve months ago renew rivalry on Saturday in the three mile three and a half furlong contest and on this occasion the Fergal O’Brien-trained runner-up is fancied to come out on top for jockey Paddy Brennan. Last year’s race, run as the Henrietta Knight Handicap Chase, received a significant form boost when the winner went on to land the Welsh Grand National under a superlative ride from Paul Carberry but the 8 year-old ( the mount of Richard Johnson this time ) will meet Bradley on 18lb worse terms at Prestbury Park despite the Karinga Bay gelding running from 4lb out of the handicap.
Bradley finished a respectable fifth behind Balthazar King over the course on his seasonal reappearance last month and looks very well treated off a mark of 128, 5lb less than when beaten just a neck in last year’s race and rates a fair bet at the 7-1 available with several bookmakers including Paddy Power and William Hill. As you would expect in a contest worth over £28k to the winner there are numerous potential dangers, the best of which may be Godsmejudge ( 7-1 Paddy Power ) from the Alan King stable. The 7-year-old did nothing but improve last season culminating in a four length victory over Big Occasion in the Coral Scottish Grand National with another rival Tour Des Champs back in fourth place and now 10lb better off in the weights. With next April’s Crabbies Grand National as the ultimate long-term aim for the son of Witness Box the mount of Wayne Hutchinson is likely to be better for his first run of the season whereas this could be the best opportunity for Bradley to land a decent prize and with a bit of luck looks certain to be bang there at the finish.