Kelso and Leicester previews: Soll can shine in Straker
David Metcalf | February 18, 2016
Mud-loving Soll can strike in Straker
Grand National hopefuls Soll and Unioniste clash in the Ivan Straker Memorial Chase at Kelso today (15.05), and the former will relish the testing conditions and is taken to come out on top.
The David Pipe trained gelding is a tough and consistent sort who got back to winning ways when landing a competitive class 2 veterans’ contest over 3m at Sandown last month on heavy ground.
Soll made a mistake at the third last and looked booked for second as Aachen set sail for home, but then stayed on dourly under a power packed ride from Tom Scudamore to get up in the shadow of the post and win by a neck.
It was a tremendously gutsy effort, and the pair pulled six lengths clear of the third home and had the rest of the field strung out like washing.
That gives the form a solid look, and although this represents a step up in class Soll in clearly right at the top of his game and the 3m 2f trip will definitely suit.
It’s a case of the stiffer the test the better for Soll, and if it comes down to a battle he won’t shirk the issue.
Kris Cross has plenty going for him
Kris Cross shaped really well on return to action after a lengthy spell on the sidelines and looks the answer to the 2m 6f handicap hurdle (15.40).
The Lucinda Russell trained gelding was a dual chase winner in 2013/14, with the last of those successes coming at Musselburgh off a mark of 122.
Kris Cross is now able to race off the same rating having caught the eye at Musselburgh last month when fifth of 15 to Donna’s Diamond on his first start for 625 days.
After being well behind in the early stages, the nine-year-old made good headway four from home and kept on nicely under tender handling to be nearest at the finish and beaten just 6 1/2 lengths.
It was a most pleasing comeback, and one which suggested Kris Cross retained all his ability.
If Kris Cross can build on that he looks weighted to take all the beating as he is currently 3lb lower than when last winning over hurdles.
13.20: Water Sprite
14.30: Top Notch
15.05: Soll (NAP)
15.40: Kris Cross (NB)
16.50: Randy Pike
Valid Point value at Leicester
Valid Point has a good record at Leicester and looks decent value to further enhance it with victory in the 2m 4f handicap chase there today (15.55).
The Nigel Twiston-Davies trained gelding has registered his last two career successes at the venue in testing conditions, scoring off a rating 107 before going on to easily beat Muckle Roe by 14 lengths off 116 on his penultimate outing.
Valid Point got put up 9lb to 125 for the latter, but was in the process of running a good race off his revised rating when in third place and coming to grief four from home when badly hampered in a decent class 3 contest at Doncaster won by Ziga Boy.
Judged on that effort the 10-year-old’s current mark should not be beyond him, and connections are now fitting the son of Val Royal with the visor for the first time.
If the headgear sharpens up Valid Point’s jumping he looks capable of running huge race off bottom weight on ground which holds no fears and a track which clearly suits.
Pret A Thou weighted to get back to winning ways
In the 2m handicap chase that opens proceedings (14.10), Pret a Thou can take advantage of a drop in the weights to land the spoils.
The John Groucott trained veteran has shaped as if coming to the boil in finishing in the frame in his last two outings over hurdles, and now switches back to fences over which he has stronger form.
Pret A Thou’s last two runs over the larger obstacles have seen him finish runner-up off marks of 115 and 114, and the 13-year-old is now able to race off just 110.
That gives Pret A Thou major claims from a handicapping perspective, especially as he has won off a rating as high as 132 in the past.
Although clearly not the force of old, Pret A Thou retains enough ability to win a weak class 4 contest of this nature and with underfoot conditions to suit he looks to have been found a nice opportunity to bag a 10th career success.
14.10: Pret A Thou (NB)
14.45: Jayo Time
15.20: Global Dream
15.55: Valid Point (NAP)
16.30: Big Georgie
17.00: Some Finish