Cheltenham Festival 2015: Ultima Handicap Chase preview (14:40)
Barrakilla has shown progressive form since going chasing and looks weighted to go well in the 3m 1f Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase (14:40).
Trained by Evan Williams, the gelding opened his account over the larger obstacles at the third time of asking when only having to be driven out to beat Persian Snow by 2 1/2 lengths in a three-runner novice chase at Warwick back in December 2012.
The eight-year-old was then on the sidelines for 312 days before making a highly promising handicap debut at Sandown in November when third of 14 to Sound Investment off an opening mark of 134.
After being held-up off the pace, Barrakilla made good headway for from home to chase and stayed on well after the last to be beaten 4 1/4 lengths.
The winner has since gone on to land a decent pot at Newbury, and the fourth home No Buts scored by eight lengths next time up to give the form a solid look.
Barakilla has had just one run since, and posted a cracking effort to finish a six length runner-up to Niceonefrankie in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup over 2m 5f at the venue.
The son of Milan tracked the leaders until getting slightly outpaced and hampered four from home by the fall of Splash Of Ginge, but then stayed on well from two out to be gaining all the way to the line and beaten by six lengths.
It was an effort which suggested today’s step up in trip at the Cheltenham Festival would suit, and off just 1lb higher Barrakilla looks nicely treated and decent each-way value.
The are plenty of dangers in wide open contest and Ned Stark could prove the biggest.
Trained by Alan King, the seven-year-old has won three of his four starts over fences and put up a game performance in the last of those to beat Kakai De La Pree by a neck in the Grade 2 Towton Novices’ Chase at Wetherby.
Ned Stark got put up 6lb for that success to a mark of 143 and Fork Lightning (2004) and Bensalem (2011) ran off exactly the same mark when winning this contest for King.
The gelding has a similar profile to that pair, and after just six lifetime starts remains unexposed and open to further progress.