Southwell preview: Western can show rivals the Way home

Western Way has some strong bumper form to his name, and looks to have been found a nice opportunity to make a winning debut over the obstacles in the 2m maiden hurdle in this evening’s card at Southwell (19.55).

The gelding, who is owned and trained by Don Cantillon, made the frame in his first three starts in 2013, and posted a cracking effort on the last of those when chasing home Cole Harden.

Western Way kept on well to go down by 1 1/4 lengths, and the winner has developed into an ultra-smart performer who landed this year’s World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

The six-year-old then duly built on that effort to open his account in facile fashion when cruising home hard held by 27 lengths at Huntingdon, but subsequently suffered an injury and was off the track for 548 days.

Western Way was the set a very stiff task after that lengthy lay-off when reappearing in the Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival in March and finishing a well beaten 20th of 21 to Moon Racer.

However, the fact that connections decided to pitch the son of Westerner into such a hot Grade 1 contest suggests they believe he retains plenty of ability, and Western Way is sure to strip much fitter for the outing.

Judged on the pick of his bumper form, Western Way has the potential to make-up in a decent hurdler and this is a very weak looking contest which represents a good chance of getting off the mark at the first time of asking.

In the 2m 4f handicap hurdle (19.25), the in-form Whatsupjack looks weighted to run a huge race.

The Shaun Harris trained gelding showed improved form to land a handicap hurdle at Market Rasen four starts back when making all and staying on gamely to beat Looks Like Magic by three lengths off a mark of 79.

It was an excellent run considering Whatsupjack was running from 12lb out of the weights, and one which suggested he would be capable races off higher marks.

The eight-year-old also ran well on his penultimate start at Market Rasen when fourth of 11 to Ruaraidh Hugh off 83, and that form looks strong in the context of this contest as the winner bolted up at Towcester last night off 84 and was receiving 5lb from the selection.

Whatsupjack backed that up with a solid second last time out at Sedgefield off his current mark of 81, which is just 2lb higher than when last successful, and everything looks in place for another huge run in a race lacking any real strength in depth.

17.20: Liars Poker
17.50: Gray Hession
18.20: Jimbill
18.55: Twojayslad
19.25: Whatsupjack (NB)
19.55: Western Way (NAP)
20.25: Verygoodverygood