Way clear for Seven Towers
SEVEN TOWERS, who unveiled a new, improved jumping technique at Ayr last time out, can extend his record to four wins in five outings in the Hazlerigg Handicap Chase at Newcastle today.
Mary Reveley's seven-year-old showed useful form as a hurdler but was then obviously very unsure as he felt his way around over the Gosforth Park fences and at Cheltenham next time.
His fencing technique then collapsed when Seven Towers finished a disappointing ninth to Major Belle at Kelso last month as he lost ground at each obstacle but it transpired that he had lost a shoe during that race.
However, in a handicap chase at Ayr last time he was always shadowing the leaders and jumping with precision. Seven Towers was sent to the front by Tony Dobbin with five fences remaining and stretched clear in the straight to defeat Seeking Gold by five lengths.
The handicapper's decision to raise the gelding 5lb to a mark of 110 seems no more than fair, particularly as Seven Towers tends to do no more than necessary when winning his races.
Three miles in soft ground round Newcastle's testing terrain will suit him very well and Seven Towers receives the nap vote to win again.
Malawi, not cooperative over hurdles but a model performer since being sent chasing, is seeking a hat-trick after wins at Wetherby and over this course and distance and should pose the most potent threat.
Aljadeer, once at the forefront of the betting for the 1992 Epsom Derby, makes his fencing debut in the Belford Novices' Chase. Four years wiser but now lacking certain parts of his anatomy, Aljadeer can boast fair form over hurdles, including three victories from as many outings last season.
His form has been largely below par this season but a third to Thornton Gate on his penultimate outing signalled that his ability is still there. A reproduction of that effort should put him beyond the reach of some modest rivals.
Useful Flat racer Celestial Key, talked of as a Champion Hurdle contender before jumping so much as a puddle in public, will have to take the opening Rothbury Maiden Hurdle in very convincing style if he is to remain on course for the Cheltenham Festival.