A RETURN to a sounder surface should spark a revival in fortunes for Benny Be Good, who has to give weight all round in the William Hill-sponsored Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster.
Keith Reveley’s versatile gelding hasn’t won since landing a valuable handicap at Market Rasen in September when he had conditions in his favour and has made only one other appearance over fences in five subsequent appearances.
That was at today’s venue where he made a bold bid under top weight off a 7lb higher mark and failed by a neck to peg back Qianshan Leader with the rest a long way adrift.
He is up another 7lb and must be nearing his handicap limit, but he is a sound jumper with gears and it wouldn’t be the biggest surprise if he defies the burden.
We last saw him in action at Haydock in a Grade Two hurdle and had to reproduce his best hurdling form to have a chance. He didn’t.
He was never a threat and beat only one home, but to be fair to him the testing ground was all against him.
It looks as though the Grimthorpe has been the target for some time and Reveley won this prize last year with Always Right, also carrying the John Wade colours.
Benny Be Good had Neptune Equester back in third at Market Rasen and the revised weights point to a form reversal.
However, Brian Ellison’s charge much prefers soft ground and this quicker surface might find him out despite his obvious chance off a handy mark. Junior, one of the leading fancies for the Grand National, has his final prep race for Aintree.
This is a nice pot to collect on the way, and he will escape any penalty as the National weights are already out. He is 19lb higher than his last victory in the Grand Annual at Cheltenham last spring but it would be foolish to rule him out.
West End Rocker is also Aintree-bound, having already proved himself over the big fences earlier in the season. The Doncaster event fits in perfectly with his National build-up, but the prospect of faster ground puts me off here.
The novice Mac Aeda is getting his act together over fences and could be a surprise packet among those at the other end of the handicap. Aerial’s fourth in the Paddy Power Gold Cup on his seasonal debut gives him sound claims for the Greatwood Gold Cup at Newbury. Victory in a graduation chase at Ascot followed before a disappointing effort behind The Giant Bolster at Cheltenham.
On that evidence he may be difficult to place in handicaps, but he has been dropped 3lb since and may be more at home on this flat and galloping track.
Niche Market is without a win since his win in the 2009 Irish National at 33-1 and his presence in the Greatwood Veterans Handicap Chase is a stepping stone to another crack at the Grand National.
He has run some good races in the meantime; this looks a perfect opportunity to get his head in front at a venue where he has performed well in the past.