London – Flying Tiger let down his supporters at Wincanton last week but those who keep the faith can be rewarded in the Unibet Greatwood Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham on Sunday.
Winner of the Fred Winter at the Festival back in March, Flying Tiger went on to finish a creditable fourth at Grade 1 level at Aintree and appeared to signal his intent when turning in a decent effort in the Group 3 Cumberland Lodge Stakes on the Flat on his return.
Following that fifth place, hopes were understandably high for the Elite Hurdle and while he was hardly disgraced in finishing third behind the reopposing London Prize, trainer Nick Williams was likely a touch disappointed his charge was caught for second in the dying strides.
Flying Tiger looked certain to come on for that outing and although it is debatable how much progress he can possibly have made in seven days, he will undoubtedly be fit for action.
London Prize is 2.5kg worse off this time around so Flying Tiger should at least have his measure and as a course and distance winner, Williams’ charge looks nicely weighted.
Connections of Cloudy Dream slipped up in not confirming him for the BetVictor Gold Cup, but that mishap can yield unexpected joy in the Shloer Chase.
Ruth Jefferson, assistant trainer to her father Malcolm, entered the seven-year-old for the wrong race on Saturday’s card but all is not lost as this Grade 2 prize is still a great opportunity.
He has the fitness edge over top-rated performers Fox Norton and Special Tiara and while he is upwards of 4kg inferior to that pair on the official numbers, he did nothing but improve towards the end of last term and does at least get 1.5kg here.
His second to Smad Place at Aintree was a decent effort and should have put him spot on for this meeting, even if not exactly for this race.
River Wylde shaped with promise on his first try over fences at Uttoxeter at the start of the month and he can step up again in the Racing Post Arkle Trophy Trial Novices’ Chase.
While his three-length margin of victory was not as visually impressive as it could have been that day, River Wylde jumped well in the main and should appreciate a stiffer test of his powers.
Shelford is the choice in Fontwell’s feature, totepool Southern National Handicap Chase, with a step back up in trip in his favour.
However, after 665 days off the track, that is a pretty big “if”, so it may well pay to look elsewhere on this occasion and chance your arm with Jezki.
Another former champion who has suffered his problems, Jezki has already demonstrated his well-being this term when winning the Istabraq Hurdle last month on his seasonal bow.
Aside from Faugheen, the rest of the field is much of a muchness and Jezki is taken to exploit any chinks in the armour of Willie Mullins’ big gun, who has failed in this at short odds before. – Press Association.