No going concerns for Bristol
View from connections ahead of the At The Races Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle on Saturday.
Bristol De Mai should appreciate the conditions
Daryl Jacob expects the forecast soft ground to bring out the best in Bristol De Mai in the At The Races Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle on Saturday.
With an increased total prize fund of £80,000 up for grabs, the three-mile Listed contest has attracted a strong field of nine runners.
Bristol De Mai enjoyed an excellent novice campaign over fences last season, winning four times, including a Grade One success in the Scilly Isles Novices' Chase at Sandown.
The Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained grey was no match for Seeyouatmidnight on his seasonal reappearance at Carlisle last month, but Jacob is confident his mount will be seen in a better light in the concluding race at Gosforth Park.
"I think at Carlisle the ground was probably too quick for him," the jockey told At The Races.
"He's coming back to soft ground, which is what he loves, and I think you'll see a better horse this time. Horses can take him out of his comfort zone on better ground as he's a big, long-striding horse.
"But heavy ground seems to be like good ground for him. He can gallop and jump out of that sort of ground.
"He's had a run under his belt now and he's going into a handicap, so I'm very much looking forward to riding him."
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Heading the market is Brian Ellison's Definitly Red.
The seven-year-old is unexposed over fences, but looked better than ever when reverting to hurdles at Carlisle last month.
Jockey-of-the-moment Brian Hughes is on board for just the second time in Definitly Red's career.
Hughes said: "I don't know much about him, to be honest, but it's a great ride to pick up. He won well over hurdles in Carlisle and I'm looking forward to riding him."
Sue Smith fires a twin assault, with last year's winner Wakanda joined by stable companion No Planning.
Wakanda finished last of seven runners on his return to action in the Charlie Hall at Wetherby, but Smith expects a much improved performance.
"We're looking forward to running both of them and I think they should both handle the ground," said the Bingley-based trainer.
"The ground was too quick for Wakanda at Wetherby, but he's been in good form since and obviously won here last year.
"I hope No Planning can run well, too."
The Kerry Lee-trained Bishops Road looked a fast-improving stayer when winning the Grand National Trial at Haydock in February, but unseated his rider when favourite for the Topham Chase at Aintree and fell on his most recent appearance in the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown.
Lee said: "He has an entry in the Welsh National, but we'll see how we go on Saturday. We are looking forward to it.
"The track should suit him, but he does have a lot of weight. We're looking forward to getting him back on track, though."
The weights are headed by the Paul Nicholls-trained Virak, although leading conditional Harry Cobden offsets some of the burden.
David Pipe's Katkeau, the Venetia Williams-trained Otago Trail and Clondaw Knight from Lucinda Russell's stable complete the field.
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