Any top-level contest where a mere point separates the front three in the betting is something to be savoured and that is exactly the state of play for arguably the most exciting Betfred Bowl in its history.
Ryanair winner Dynaste, King George victor Silviniaco Conti and defending champion First Lieutenant cross swords in a fascinating renewal and it is understandable why the layers are struggling to separate.
First Lieutenant is the only one of the trio to not have featured at Cheltenham after he failed to ‘eat up’ on the morning of the Gold Cup and the trainer of the 3/1 shot, Mouse Morris, believes his stable star is ready to shine again on Merseyside.
Morris said: “He’s back to himself and in grand old form,”
With Gigginstown jockey Bryan Cooper injured, Barry Geraghty picks up another plumb ride after making hay on spare mounts at the Festival last month and while Morris is happy with the replacement there is no doubt over who the Fethard handler respects from the opposition.
“You’d have to be afraid of Dynaste and I would say he will be better over this sort of trip than the Ryanair one.
“It is good to get Barry to ride”
Dynaste, currently 2/1 joint-favourite, slammed the doubters at Prestbury Park and justified trainer David Pipe’s decision to swerve the bigger Friday prize.
After losing out to Benefficient, when billed as one of the meeting’s certainties in last year’s Jewson Chase, the line of fans couldn’t be seen for his critics but the eight-year-old and his jockey couldn’t have been more impressive when the pressure was at its most intense.
The Pondhouse star is likely to be in warm order on the day having already proven his credentials at the meeting when winning Friday’s Mildmay Chase in style last term.
Conversely, joint-favourite Silviniaco Conti has something to prove after finishing a 1 ¾ lengths third behind First Lieutenant a year ago after falling at the Gold Cup weeks before.
Although those doubts can be tempered to an extent by looking back a further 12 months when he slammed the field to win the aforementioned Mildmay, it could be significant that missed the Festival that year and arrived with no baggage.
That would be a very real concern for supporters of the King George winner as although at one point it appeared as if the Gold Cup may be in reach he ultimately faded considerably and the instinctive reaction is to think that the race was hard on the eight-year-old.
However, Paul Nicholls is arguably the best in the business about rejuvenating his charges and it would still be more of a surprise if his horse wasn’t in the thick of it than if he was.
What is for certain is that this race would be befitting of any Festival and for those wanting a thrilling finish to the line they are almost guaranteed it here.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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