GRANDTURGEON has made the major step-up to compete in the Men’s Open at Sunday’s Albrighton and Woodland (North) point-to-point at Chaddesley Corbett.
The ten-year-old joined Bridgnorth trainer Phil Rowley following the retirement of Jane Williams and the new arrangement got off to the perfect start when the gelding scored under Alex Edwards at Sheriff Hutton point-to-point in Yorkshire.
Rowley sent out three winners at last year’s meeting and despite Grandturgeon’s step-up, he should not leave the meeting unrewarded.
Martin Weston’s Awesome George has prolific running form between the flags but will do well to make it in the frame against serious rivals while Dandan likes to set the pace.
Angela Rucker’s Wild Bill beat a useful field over this course after Christmas and must go close with a repeat performance, but the one they all have to beat is Clive Bennetts Iberico.
Unbeaten in two runs between the flags so far this season, he seems to thrive when the premium is on stamina and his ability to quicken at the end of his races is a point in his favour.
With numerous successes under National Hunt Rules, trainers Tom George and Fergal O’Brien are also ones to watch this weekend.
George is relying on the un-raced Doctor Wong while O’Brien’s pairing of Trespassers Will and Where’s Cherry are more experienced and could tip the scales in their favour in the two-and-a-half mile Maiden.
Others to note include Taken by Force from Weston’s stable and Emtidaad who finished second at Banbury.
Last year’s runner-up in the Ladies Open, Get It On, is given a second chance to claim victory but will fear the likes of Horsham Lad while Blazing Whale should be in contention if he makes the journey up from the West Country.
The winner of this year’s Restricted race is not as open although the Rowley trio of Namako, Mac’s Gift or Shan’t Agree are the favourites.
Double Cool has bits and pieces of form which gives him a semblance of a chance while Overplan comes into the reckoning on her best form.
The three-mile Maiden provides a winning chance for Dewi’s Mate who has been runner up on his last three outings.
Floras Furlong, In The Hold and Round Robin are others for the short list but Flying Bandit who had an undistinguished career under Rules looks to have a winning chance and could provide yet another winner for the all-conquering Jukes, Alvis, Bennett triumvirate.