Fortune favours Fownes' Braveness in his quest to go back-to-back
Caspar Fownes-trained Braveness was back to his very best last time out and even a wider draw may not stop him if the same horse turns up for the Volunteers' Challenge Cup (1,000m) at Happy Valley on Wednesday night.
The four-year-old returned a career best effort winning from barrier two over the same course last month, and Braveness' record over the minimum Valley trip reads five starts for two wins and two seconds, with plenty of legitimate excuses the night he failed there.
He moves from gate two to gate nine this evening and he rises to 133 pounds in the saddle, but the horse - who won on January 15 - will cope with the weight and closer analysis of the draw suggests that it might not be the hurdle it first appears.
The draw shows quite a few horses in the middle of the field - Master Sommelier (Weichong Marwing), Rocket Let Win, St Yazin and Roman Win - which are not horses usually ridden for speed.
With the potential leader Fantastico (Karis Teetan) drawn in barrier three and Gold Edition in gate seven likely to bounce out and give chase, Tye Angland may be able to cross the middle of the draw and slip Braveness into a nice trail right behind the pace without doing too much work.
That looks an excellent spot to be as the race unfolds, especially if quick horses drawn to his outside, like Oriental Prosper and Touch Go, press forward and try to put more pressure on the lead.
The dangers look Fantastico, whose impressive course and distance win made him the warm beaten favourite behind Braveness after missing the jump, and Master Sommelier.
Master Sommelier has been a frustration for John Size - a horse with talent who has ruined his own chances by being all but unmanageable in races. The drop to 1,000m and a good pace may enable him to travel more tractably and save something for the finish.