Williams hopes Gas Line flows

Views from connections ahead of the 32Red Veterans' Handicap Chase at Sandown on Saturday..

Gas Line Boy: Sandown hopeful

Gas Line Boy was an impressive winner of the final qualifying leg at Kelso and trainer Ian Williams is hopeful of another bold show in the 32Red Veterans' Handicap Chase at Sandown on Saturday.

"Tom O'Brien rides him as Brian Hughes was unavailable, but he has ridden him plenty of times before," said the Alvechurch-based trainer.

"He has been a bit of a revelation and is now off a mark of 145 over fences, which, on one side, is very high for this race when he is running off level weights with the likes of Dynaste, although he didn't turn up at Kelso.

"He is in good form but is probably handicapped close to his best.

"There are a few horses that have a turnaround at the weights, but I think sometimes in these races horses being in good form is important and one or two need to bounce back.

"We've got a horse that is in good form and has had a great season, so hopefully he'll run well.

"Hopefully after this he will scoot into the Grand National off a mark that gives him a decent chance of getting in."

Gas Line Boy is among a fiercely competitive field of 19 runners, with a total prize fund of £100,000 up for grabs in what is the final of the 2016 Veterans' Chase Series.

David Pipe is unsure what to expect from Dynaste, who was 7/1 favourite for the race with Sky Bet on Friday morning.

The 11-year-old grey was a formidable operator for the Nicholashayne handler in his pomp, winning twice at Grade One level and placing in races like the Betfair Chase at Haydock and the King George VI Chase at Kempton.

However, having failed to get his head in front since claiming Cheltenham Festival glory in the Ryanair Chase almost three years ago, his star has fallen significantly.

He was also unable to make the most of a significant drop in class and a falling handicap mark when finishing down the field on his veterans' chase debut, behind Gas Line Boy, at Kelso last month.

Pipe said: "He's in good form at home, but he was very disappointing at Kelso.

"He never really went a yard that day, when we left the blinkers off him, so we're putting them back on and we'll see what happens.

"The handicapper has given him a chance, but we can't be confident after Kelso.

"I'm a big fan of these races, I think everyone is."

Tom George fires a twin assault with 2015 Grand National runner-up Saint Are and recent Leicester scorer Forgotten Gold.

Saint Are fell at the first when he returned to the famous Aintree fences for last month's Becher Chase.

"I think his fall was probably caused by the standing start as they all rushed into the first fence," said George, who does not want to see too much rain at the Esher venue.

"When that happens everybody's trying to get a good position. They are going quicker than they would do and he got it wrong.

"Forgotten Gold won a three-horse race at Leicester in a course-record time.

"He likes the better ground and seems to be holding his form, so we're happy with him.

"This has been their target and then we'll give them a bit of a break until the spring."

Astracad has won eight races for Nigel Twiston-Davies, including a veterans' chase at Cheltenham in November.

He was last seen filling the runner-up spot in an open handicap at Wetherby and while he has never previously tackled three miles in 48 starts, his trainer does not expect that to be an issue.

Twiston-Davies said: "He's in good form and the drier the ground the better his chance.

"He hasn't run over three miles, but we've never thought he wouldn't get it."

The Nicky Henderson-trained Ericht chased home Astracad at Cheltenham, having previously finished second at Newbury.

"Ericht is in good form, but it is a very competitive race with huge prize-money," said the Seven Barrows handler.

"My only worry would be that it is over three miles, but we have got to give him a go in it."

Harry Fry hopes Shuil Royale can show why he has been burdened with top weight by following up his victory at Aintree in October.

The Dorset handler said: "He has got top weight, which is hard to believe given what the likes of Dynaste has achieved, but he has got top weight for a reason, having won well last time.

"He was going to run at Cheltenham in November but he got pus in his foot the night before and was lame.

"We looked at his options and decided to keep him fresh for this.

"It is a very competitive race and it is great to see all these old boys getting another chance at a big prize.

"He is in good form at home."

Cody Wyoming is an outsider for trainer Charlie Mann.

He said: "He likes soft ground and two miles, five furlongs is probably his ideal trip, but I think he'll get three miles on better ground.

"He does jump well, but it looks like a pot that everyone is going for.

"He is in good order and he would have been in the first two at Fakenham last time had he not made a mistake at the second-last."

Other contenders include Paul Nicholls' recent course scorer Rocky Creek, his stable companion Aerial and Cloudy Too from Sue Smith's stable.

Read More at Sporting Life

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