Gallant Lion is favourite for the Unibet Handicap at Newbury today

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May 17

We have three runners at our local Newbury meeting today. Lunar Shadow is a late absentee, but Gallant Lion, a relatively new addition to the Barbury team, looks to have solid claims in the Unibet Handicap, for which he is favourite in early lists.

Gallant Lion was a real money-spinner for trainer Tony Carroll last summer, rattling off four wins in a row, and, having started off last season off a mark of 66, he ended up with aa rating of 82.

Alan, who had been pleased with what he saw on the gallops in the four-year-old’s early work, was delighted to see him look just as impressive on the track, Gallant Lion doing plenty of sterling late work up the straight to finish third over this same course and distance last month.

Further down the road, Alan expects Gallant Lion to prove even better when he steps up to a mile and a half, but that was his first run since last September, so off only a pound higher mark, he ought to be a major player here.

We also have a runner at Aintree tonight, Masaccio in the two and a half mile handicap hurdle. The ground was on the easy side when he won at both Chepstow and Kempton, but Alan has always thought that drier conditions would suit him better, so the combination of testing going plus losing a shoe suggests his rapid reverse through the field at Ayr last month is best forgotten. There will be no excuses about the ground today.