15.40 Aintree: Standing Ovation can rise to Topham challenge
An ultra-competitive renewal of the Topham Chase in which the David Pipe trained Standing Ovation looks worth siding with after signalling a return to form last time out.
The seven-year-old was in terrific form in the second half of 2013, winning four handicaps on the bounce.
The first of those wins came off a mark of 92, while the last came off 120 in the Badger Ales Trophy at Wincanton where he stayed on strongly to beat Alfie Spinner by five lengths.
The gelding was then well beaten on his next two starts, and his handler wisely decided to give him a break.
The son of Presenting was off the track for 99 days, and shaped as if it had done him some good when a highly promising sixth of 23 to Holywell in the Baylis & Harding Affordable Luxury Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.
He raced keenly at the head of affairs that day and after taking up the running at the ninth only weaned out of contention late on after being headed approaching the second last.
It was an effort which suggested he had a big prize like this in him, and it’s interesting that connections are now fitting him with the hood for the first time.
Off bottom weight of 10st he looks sure to go well if taking to the unique National fences.
There are plenty of dangers, and two of the main ones could be Double Ross and He’llberemembered.
The former is a progressive chaser who has been in fine form this season, winning twice.
He put up his best performance in defeat last time out in the JLT Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival when two length third to Taquin Du Seuil, and is bold jumper who battles hard and looks the ideal type for the race.
He’llberemembered is trained in Ireland by Pat Fahy, and won the valuable Leopardstown Handicap Chase over 2m 5f in January before coming home third over the same course and distance when last seen in action.
The 11-year-old, who will be the trainer’s first runner at Aintree, has been schooled over National-style fences and reportedly jumped them really well.
If putting in a clear round he has form in the book which suggests he is a big player.