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Cheltenham Festival 2015: Toby Balding National Hunt Chase preview (16:40)

| 10.03.2015

Very Wood bounced back to form last time out and looks to hold rock-solid claims of providing Ireland with it’s third winner in the last five runnings of the 4m National Hunt Chase (16.40).

The Noel Meade trained was a very smart bumper and hurdles performer whose finest hour came at the meeting 12 months ago in the Albert Bartlett Hurdle.

The six-year-old overcame an 11th-hour injury scare to spring a 33/1 shock when comfortably beating Deputy Dan by 4 1/2 lengths in the Grade 1 contest.

Very Wood looked sure to develop into a top class novice chaser this season judged on that effort, and won well on debut over the larger obstacles on his first start this season when beating The Job Is Right by 1 1/2 lengths.

It was therefore disappointing that the son of Martaline was then pulled up in his next two starts in Graded company and he seemed to have lost his way.

However, connections then decided to swap the blinkers that Very Wood had worn in those contests for the cheekpieces and he bounced back to form with a vengeance with an impressive win in the Grade 2 Ten Up Novice Chase at Navan under a fine ride from Bryan Cooper.

Very Wood jumped well and travelled strongly throughout the 3m contest, and after cruising to the front two from home pulled readily clear to win by 4 1/4 lengths.

The runner-up is a useful sort held in high regard by trainer Tony Martin, and winning jockey Cooper said after the race that this contest would be tailor-made for Very Wood.

With course form to his name and stamina that knows no limit, Very Wood looks the one they all have to beat at the Festival.

The best of the home team, and one most likely to give Very Wood most to think about, is the Alan King trained Sego Success.

The gelding has won his last two starts in the manner of a progressive sort, and beat a useful type in the first of those when getting the better of If In Doubt at Wetherby.

If In Doubt has gone on to land a valuable and competitive handicap chase at Doncaster in good style to give the form a solid look, and Sego Success has since beaten Grand Vision and Deputy Dan with the minimum of fuss over 3m at Warwick.

The seven-year-old is clearly on a serious upward curve and remains unexposed and open to further improvement after just three starts over fences.

King also knows what type of horse is required for the race having saddled Old Benny to success in 2008 and Midnight Prayer to land the spoils 12 months ago, and Sego Success is a similar type to that pair who looks sure to go well.



David Metcalf

A lifelong Manchester United supporter, David has over 25 years’ experience in the media industry having worked for regional and national newspapers. He is a huge horse racing, football and greyhound fan and has done interviews on various radio and TV stations, including talkSPORT and Sky Sports, whilst working as a PR front man for a betting firm. David has also written for most of the top Premier League football fan websites, and produced a Cheltenham Festival guide with former eight-times champion national hunt jockey Peter Scudamore, MBE, after helping him to set up a syndicate for his trainer son Michael.