Helnwein has each-way prospects in the Dovecote at Kempton on Saturday

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February 21

Like most of us, Alan is becoming repeatedly frustrated by the seemingly never ending spell of “welly weather”, which has meant soft ground – s0metimes even heavy –  all over the country.

However, prospects for the week-end are a little bit brighter, and, more importantly, drier, so Alan is hoping we might have something to celebrate from our four runners tomorrow.

Alan has had plenty of success in his forays at Newcastle – two Northumberland Plates and an All-Weather Champi9nshi Final – and Major Dundee heads for Gosforth Park for  the four-mile Eider Chase, which, considering the testing underfoot conditions, will be even more of a stamina test than usual.

He said: “Major Dundee is an out-and-out stayer, as you’d expect from a Midlands Grand National winner, and I hope this might be the right race for him to get him back on track after a couple of disappointing runs.

“He’d run well first time out this season, and I’ve been happy enough with his recent work at home, so with the visor on again I hope he might recapture last year’s sparkle.”

From his up-and-coming horses, Alan has a lot of time for Helnwein, whose target is the Dovecote Hurdle at Kempton, a race he has already won four times.

Helnwein is the lowest-rated of the seven runners, so has a bit to find, but Alan is adamant that he is worth his place in this field. He said:”He made a winning start over hurdles at Warwick and was then a bit unlucky in a Listed race at Sandown, where he got left in front too soon.

“That race was 10 weeks ago and Helnwein has not run since as he scoped badly, and it took time to get him right again. He’s fine again now and should be suited by Kempton, so this race will hopefully tell us which direction we should go in the spring,”

Also in action at Kempton is newcomer Mystical Moon, who makes his debut in the bumper, He is a lovely four-year-old who comes from a good family, and, while he is one for the future, we are not going to get him any more ready at home, and he needs racecourse experience.”

Our final Saturday runner is on the flat at Southwell, where Spartan Army runs in the two-mile handicap. Alan added: “He has come forward again from his win at Lingfield, and this is the logical place to go with him.”

The Barbury horses remain in good form, and Betterforeveryone found the soft ground no hindrance when winning the three-mile chase at Doncaster on Wednesday. He was always going like a winner and jumped to the front at the second last, powering clear to win by 14 lengths.

Betterforeveryone was runner-up over the course last time, and with the winner having scored again since, Tom Cannon was not surprised he was able to go one better here.

He said:”Betterforeveryone had the best form and was the best horse in the race. I got him into a good rhythm early on, and he coped with the ground well.”

However, Tom and Alan knew early on in the following race that ground bordering on heavy was going to be no good for Paradias in the novice hurdle, and, never looking happy in underfoot conditions that were reminiscent of sticky toffee pudding, he struggled home a weary third behind well-backed favourite Support Act.

Paradias’s run here is best forgotten. He has always been a good ground horse, and remains a classy handicapper on the Flat, so expect a totally different display when he runs again on a decent surface.