Emma Lavelle reports her progressive staying handicapper Qianshan Leader to be in great heart and working nicely ahead of a bid for the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival next month, writes Elliot Slater.
The eight-year-old has enjoyed a productive time of things so far this season and ran well on his most recent outing when finishing a highly respectable fifth to Calgary Bay in the Grade 3 Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster in January, keeping on in the closing stages having failed to pick up with the leaders on the turn for home. Lavelle feels that the testing ground at Tow Moor may well have proved a little too much for the gelded son of Anshan but was still very pleased with his effort.
Last term Qianshan Leader won a couple of races over shorter distances but seems to have come into his own this season over three miles, scoring at Kempton in November off a mark of 122 then following up at Doncaster the following month ff a 4lb higher mark, beating the decent Benny be Good by a neck in a driving finish. The Hampshire-based trainer has now nominated the ‘Kim Muir’ as the ideal race for her horse at Cheltenham Festival where she hopes that the combination of a good gallop and decent ground could well see the eight-year-old get very much into the thick of the action. Horse racing tips are already tipping her for glory.
Bookmakers have priced up the horse owned by the Pick ‘N Mix Partnership at around 14/1 for the three-mile affair in a market currently headed by Galaxy Rock at 10/1, whilst punters who bet on racing may want to back last year’s runaway winner and leading John Smith’s Grand National fancy Junior, who is generally a 12/1 chance.