London – Connections of Ms Parfois decided to bypass the Cheltenham Festival and their decision can pay dividends in the Marston’s 61 Deep Midlands Grand National.
The eight-year-old was among the top rank as a novice last season, winning a couple of Listed heats before rounding off the campaign with a second place at Grade 1 level at Aintree.
Anthony Honeyball’s hopes must have been high heading into this term, and Ms Parfois was well fancied for the Ladbrokes Trophy Chase at Newbury back in December – particularly because the ground turned to her favoured soft in the run-up to the race.
However, Ms Parfois was found wanting on her first start for 232 days and what was also an initial outing following a wind op.
The form has worked out well, though, with runner-up Elegant Escape bagging the Welsh National, fourth-placed Beware The Bear winning at Cheltenham and fifth West Approach placing in Grade 1 company over hurdles – so Ms Parfois deserves a bit more credit than first appeared.
Honeyball’s team have been a bit under the weather this season. But his fortunes have taken an upturn now and Ms Parfois looks primed to give the squad a further boost on the way to a possible Grand National challenge.
Sully D’Oc can make it a double on the day for Honeyball with a winning British bow in the Marston’s Pedigree Handicap Hurdle.
A four-time hurdle winner in his native France, Sully D’Oc looks to have been given a workable mark of 136 to kick off his career in Britain.
Aintree My Dream came unstuck on his most recent outing at Warwick but can get back on track in the Brit Plant Direct Novices’ Handicap Chase.
He was not beaten far here in a decent race on New Year’s Eve – then although he looked held when coming down with three to jump at Warwick, there was nothing to say he might not have battled back.
Forth Bridge is the pick at Kempton in the richly-endowed Matchbook Silver Bowl Handicap Chase.
Trained by Charlie Longsdon for the Queen, Forth Bridge has been suffering a bit of “seconditis” of late – having to settle for minor honours on his last three runs.
He was well beaten last time when pitched in over 4500m, but may feel the benefit of switching back to 4000m.
Former Festival hero Call The Cops recently returned to winning form and can continue to make hay in the Sun Racing App Racecards, News And Results Handicap Hurdle at Newcastle.
He ended a near four-year barren spell with a gutsy win last time, and should still make his touch of class tell.
Treasure Me can take a starring role on Wolverhampton’s all-weather card by winning the Ladbrokes EBF Fillies’ Handicap.
Charlie Fellowes’ runner has been knocking on the door in her three latest starts, most recently having to settle for second over 1600m at Newcastle.
It could be that longer trip is on the very edge of her reserves, so switching back to 1400m here looks a plus.
Salute The Soldier can return refreshed in the sunracing.co.uk Handicap.
Clive Cox’s charge won two of his three starts at the end of last year, only coming unstuck when taking too keen a hold over the same course and distance he faces here.
Salute The Soldier was still beaten only half a length that day, and might be good enough to overcome a subsequent 1kg rise. – Press Association
SELECTIONS (UK times):
DOWN ROYAL: 2.30 Roll Again, 3.05 Bard Of Armagh, 3.40 The Long Mile, 4.15 Global Racing, 4.50 Baie Des Iles, 5.25 Broadway Star, 6.00 Lady Of Elisium.
FONTWELL: 1.40 Love Lane, 2.15 Le Coeur Net, 2.50 Shapiro, 3.25 Corinto, 4.00 Hepburn, 4.35 Flaminger, 5.10 Don’t Tell George.
KEMPTON: 1.30 Heatstroke, 2.05 Timoteo, 2.40 Star Of Lanka, 3.15 Forth Bridge, 3.50 The Cashel Man, 4.25 Minella For Me, 5.00 Grey Getaway.
LIMERICK: 1.45 Denham Hana, 2.20 Good Shot Sir, 2.55 Drifting Back, 3.30 She’s Made It, 4.05 Ask Mary, 4.40 Collo Meo, 5.15 Run Wild Fred.
NEWCASTLE: 2.00 Darling Du Large, 2.35 King Golan, 3.10 The Gipper, 3.45 Stop Talking, 4.20 Call The Cops, 4.55 Graystown, 5.30 Marown.
UTTOXETER: 1.50 Too Many Chiefs, 2.25 Aintree My Dream, 3.00 Sully D’Oc, 3.35 MS PARFOIS (NAP), 4.10 Back On The Lash, 4.45 Sartorial Elegance, 5.20 Astra Via, 5.50 The Cob.
WOLVERHAMPTON: 5.40 Don’t Do It, 6.15 Salute The Soldier, 6.45 Albert Finney, 7.15 Treasure Me, 7.45 Love Rat, 8.15 Phosphor.
DOUBLE: Ms Parfois and Forth Bridge.