Racing preview for Saturday, March 19
Shotgun Paddy has twice hit the crossbar in big staying chases this season but he can enjoy his moment in the spotlight in the Betfred Midlands Grand National at Uttoxeter.
The nine-year-old proved a bitter disappointment in this event last term, being pulled up after getting tailed off, but his preparation appeared no where near as good as it has been this time around.
Shotgun Paddy has hardly looked back since that run, reappearing with a fine fifth behind Sausalito Sunrise at Cheltenham in November before claiming an admirable third under joint top weight in the Welsh National.
The desperate ground on that occasion certainly did not play to his strengths but he kept ploughing away to take minor honours, with the handicapper subsequently dropping him 1lb after his defeat.
He was still saddled with a hefty burden in the Eider at Newcastle, where he unsurprisingly found the lightly-weighted and relatively unexposed - for an 11-year-old - Rocking Blues nine lengths too good.
That was still an excellent effort and shows he remains competitive off his current mark, although his jumping could sometimes be a little sharper.
Shotgun Paddy still faces a tough assignment but Emma Lavelle has had this race on the agenda for a little while now and it would be frustrating if he cannot make his presence felt again.
Kempton stages its Cheltenham consolation card and Rock On Oscar can pick up a nice cheque for landing the racinguk.com/hd Kempton Park Silver Plate.
Paul Nicholls’ six-year-old has not seen much action yet, but he has impressed in his four starts to date.
Sixth behind Cheltenham hero Minella Rocco last year, he just lost out by a head to Duelling Banjos on his return in November before again falling short behind Whataknight when racing far too keenly at Taunton in December.
Clearly he is talented but headstrong, prompting Nicholls to adopt front-running tactics at Doncaster last month - a decision which paid dividends as he settled beautifully at the head of the field and won by a comfortable 10 lengths.
His jumping was en pointe that day and he stayed on well to suggest that this step up in class will prove a natural progression.
Buckhorn Timothy can put his best foot forward in the Racing UK in HD Kempton Park Silver Bowl.
A winner at Huntingdon in January, he shown the ability to handle virtually any surface and has shown up well on four of his five chase starts, with a fall at Kempton on Boxing Day the only blot on his fencing record.
Nicky Henderson tasted the highs of Festival glory - what a day it was with Sprinter Sacre - and while his Brain Power did not quite make it to the big meeting, compensation awaits in the racinguk.com/anywhere Novices’ Hurdle
Nicholls can also be on the mark at Fontwell with Tagrita in the Wirsol Energy Mares’ Handicap Hurdle
Fontwell: 2.00 Treaty Girl, 2.35 My Miss Lucy, 3.10 Tagrita, 3.45 Gamain, 4.20 Blue Rambler, 4.55 Tanit River, 5.30 Young Lou.
Kempton: 2.05 Brain Power, 2.40 Poker School, 3.15 Rock On Oscar, 3.50 Buckhorn Timothy, 4.25 Monkhouse, 5.00 Muckle Roe, 5.35 Golden Birthday.
Newcastle: 2.15 Imada, 2.50 Oscar Lateen, 3.25 Cloudy Dream, 4.00 Taigan, 4.35 Some Lad, 5.10 Lowcarr Motion, 5.45 Red Orator.
Uttoxeter: 1.50 Rolling Dylan, 2.25 Consortium, 3.00 Kilbree Chief, 3.35 General Ginger, 4.10 SHOTGUN PADDY (NAP), 4.45 Daliance, 5.20 Supreme Hope, 5.55 London Prize.
Wolverhampton: 6.15 Motivate, 6.45 Ready, 7.15 Force Of Destiny, 7.45 Mallymkun, 8.15 Robben, 8.45 Multi Quest.
Double: Shotgun Paddy and Rock On Oscar.