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Waley-Cohen colours could be seen to good effect again in Melling

| 03.04.2014

This year’s Melling Chase is a wide-open and fascinating renewal with few opportunities to confidently put a line through any.

David Pipe’s Ballynagour produced by far the most impressive performance of all the latest efforts when routing a 23-strong field in the Byrne Group Plate at the Festival.

However, despite the breathtaking manner of that victory there is no doubt that the eight-year-old was tuned up with that race in mind alone and his record suggests he will struggle to reproduce.

None of Ballynagour’s five victories have been backed up by another and this is reflected in his price, currently 5/1.

Currently occupying joint-favouritism are two horses who also performed well at Prestbury Park last month, Module and Rajdhani Express.

The former was third in the Queen Mother Champion Chase, never threatening Sire De Grugy but only a neck behind a back-on-song Somersby.

That form explains Tom George’s charge’s lofty position in the market and there is no doubting the seven-year-old’s consistency.

Only once in his career has he finished outside the first four when finishing and five wins from only a dozen starts is encouraging.

Sam Waley-Cohen silenced many a doubter with a terrific front running ride on Warne in yesterday’s Fox Hunters’ Chase and the whole team is understandably bullish about the chances of their other big runners of the meeting.

A lot of thoughts will naturally be on how Long Run fares in Saturday’s showpiece but Rajdhani Express has an even better chance of carrying the family colours to victory for the second time.

Only 4 ½ lengths adrift of Dynaste in the Jewson when third at 18/1, the son of Presenting has a clear chance if able to reproduce a similar standard and victories in half of his last six starts shows he holds no fear of the judge.

Wishfull Thinking will be popular for Philip Hobbs and Richard Johnson at 6/1, but he’ll have to turn the tables on the aforementioned Module, after finishing a further 6 ¾ lengths back in fifth at the Festival.

The evergreen 11-year-old has shown the ability to bounce back from defeat to secure big victories in the past, however, and it would be no surprise if his handler was able to conjure the necessary improvement once more despite the short time available.

Finally, Willie Mullins’ Boston Bob deserves a mention at 7/1.

The Closutton resident was disappointing behind a couple of these in the Jewson but again he is in the care of a trainer who has mastered the knack of getting horses back to winning ways and discarding the 2012 Albert Bartlett runner-up from plans could be folly.

It’s one of many intriguing puzzles this year and with support likely to come early and late for many of the main protagonists a mere market check would provide little more illumination.

And so like a lot of the races over these three days it might pay to have more on the bet slip than less.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Sam Foster