Stiffer test at Cheltenham will suit Es Perfecto better than Kempton

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January 25

Cheltenham with its stiff uphill finish is a stiffer test than Kempton, so Alan is entitled to think that Es Perfecto, who finished third in a strong novice handicap chase on the Sunbury course on Boxing Day, will be more suited by Prestbury Park on Saturday, when he has a rematch with the first two home, Blow Your Wad and Outlaw Peter.

Alan, who has again booked big-race specialist Gavin Sheehan to ride, acknowledged that Es Perfecto needs to find four lengths improvement if he is to exact revenge.

However, Alan is optimistic that Es Perfecto, who, unlike his two old rivals, can run off the same handicap mark here, will again be very competitive.

He said:”Gavin was pleased with Es Perfecto at Kempton, but, though he was always in top gear, he stayed on strongly from the second last and the slightly easier ground will also now make it more of a stamina test.”

Alan is also hopeful of a bold run from Grandeur D’Ame in the Paddy Power-sponsored feature chase. He said;”I was really pleased how well he run to finish fourth in the December Gold Cup over the same course before Christmas as it was a big step up in grade and he was also 3lb out of the handicap.”

Grandeur d’Ame, who had previously been a runaway winner at Wetherby, was not put up by the handicapper for that fine run last time, so he’ll now be able to run off his proper mark, and, delighted with the ride that Tom Bellamy gave the horse, showing the sense to back off when the leaders were clearly going very hard in front, Alan is happy to rely on the same duo again,

We could also be a major player in the Sky Sports-sponsored Fillies Juvenile Hurdle at Doncaster with Esmerellda, who was a winner at Town Moor a month ago.

Alan added:”It was great to see Esmerellda get her head in front at Doncaster. She had run well in a Listed affair on her hurdling debut at Newbury, and that race clearly brought her on. I’ve won this prize twice before, with Her Indoors and Giving Glances, and, with such a strong Shadwell pedigree, black type would be very important for her.”

Also heading up the A1 to Yorkshire on Saturday are Call of the Wild, who returns after a two month break in the SBK Handicap Hurdle, and Egbert, who runs in the novices’ limited handicap chase backed by the same sponsors.

Summing up Call of the Wild’s chances, Alan concluded:”He is quite a delicate horse to train, and he was only just ready to start back at Wincanton, having been off since April, so I was pleased how well he saw his race out. I’ve been much happier with him this season.”

Egbert won on his chase debut at Kempton, but he was never travelling next time at Doncaster, so Alan tries him in a first time visor here, which might well help the jockey.”