Mi­lans­bar ca­pa­ble of re­peat win, says King

Western Daily Press (Saturday) - - Horse Racing - ASH­LEY IVESON Horse Rac­ing writer

NEIL King be­lieves Mi­lans­bar is well ca­pa­ble of suc­cess­fully de­fend­ing his crown in War­wick’s McCoy Con­trac­tors Civil En­gi­neer­ing Clas­sic Chase.

The vet­eran stay­ing chaser was a com­pre­hen­sive win­ner of the three­mile-five-fur­long marathon last term be­fore go­ing on to fin­ish se­cond in the Mid­lands Na­tional at Ut­tox­eter and fifth in the Grand Na­tional at Ain­tree in April.

He fin­ished down the field on his sea­sonal reap­pear­ance at Sandown last month, but trainer King be­lieves that run will have blown away any cob­webs and is ex­pect­ing an im­proved per­for­mance on his re­turn to War­wick this af­ter­noon.

“I just won­der if there were a cou­ple of things to ex­plain his run at Sandown. One is that he did a lit­tle bit too much in front and se­condly, maybe he needed the run more than we thought,” said the Marl­bor­ough­based trainer.

“He has been in tremen­dous form all au­tumn. His jump­ing wasn’t as flu­ent at Sandown, but that might be down to it be­ing his first run back after the Grand Na­tional.”

Bry­ony Frost was aboard Mi­lans­bar last sea­son and this year he has the as­sis­tance of an­other lead­ing fe­male rider in Gina An­drews, who claims a handy 3lb.

King added: “He was se­cond off a higher mark than he has now when he ran in the Mid­lands Na­tional last sea­son, so I’d like to think it is within his ca­pa­bil­ity (to win again).”

Mark Brad­stock is look­ing for­ward to run­ning last sea­son’s bet365 Gold Cup hero Step Back.

The nine-year-old makes his first com­pet­i­tive ap­pear­ance since com­ing seventh be­hind sub­se­quent win­ners The Young Mas­ter, Traf­fic Flu­ide and Rock The Kas­bah at Chep­stow in Oc­to­ber.

Brad­stock said: “He ran a blinder at Chep­stow, look­ing back at it now. The form has worked out well and the ground was quick enough.

“He has prob­lems with flat feet and high mus­cle en­zymes, but he seems in good form. Hope­fully he’ll run well.”

Nigel Twis­ton-Davies has two lead­ing con­tenders in Co­gry and Calett Mad. The trainer’s son Sam part­ners Co­gry fol­low­ing his nar­row suc­cess at Chel­tenham in De­cem­ber, with James Bowen tak­ing the ride Calett Mad, who was last seen fin­ish­ing se­cond un­der a big weight in the Bor­ders Na­tional at Kelso.

“Hope­fully they’ve both got good chances and I wouldn’t favour one over the other,” said the Naun­ton han­dler. “Both horses are go­ing there in good form and stay well, so we’ll see what hap­pens”

Other con­tenders for the War­wick fea­ture in­clude the Paul Ni­choll­strained Ibis Du Rheu, Colin Tiz­zard’s pair of Siz­ing Codelco and Ul­tragold, and Duel At Dawn, trained by Alex Hales.

Alan Crowhurst/ Getty Im­ages

Mi­lans­bar wins last year’s Clas­sic Chase un­der Bry­ony Frost

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