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Gerald Delamere: Conditions should suit Knight Templar.

3.35 Velka Pardubicka Grimthorpe Handicap Chase

POSITIVES: Now that spring is in the air, it would be no surprise to see Call It A Day return to something like the form which saw him placed in six of his seven starts last season, including the Martell Grand National. He will have been freshened up by a spell hunting, and, although today's trip may be a bit sharp, an improved performance can be expected here.

Oliver Sherwood won this race in 1997 with Father Sky, a six-year-old novice who carried 10st 11lb, and he runs a similar type here in Merry Path, who is attractively weighted on

10st 4lb. He was successful over three miles at the track in December, but yesterday's rain, which changed the going to good to soft, will not have been in his favour.

Knight Templar goes well fresh, having won three of his four races on the back of a decent break, and on this occasion he has been absent since November. He finished third to Tullymurry Toff at Market Rasen in October and commands plenty of respect on that performance, while three of his victories were achieved on good to soft ground.

Strath Royal ran very well over an inadequate trip behind Headwind on his reappearance at Wetherby in October, and he was well fancied when falling at that track in November. He is now 15lb lower and is well treated if retaining his ability.

NEGATIVES: Profluent was beaten out of sight behind Sir Dante at Kempton in January, yet has not been dropped in the ratings. He needed a Tony McCoy special to beat four rivals in a modest race at that track over Christmas and is not certain to be suited by this distance.

Lord Of The West was a course-and-distance winner in December 1998 off his current mark. However, he has been most disappointing this term, and it is hard to find a plausible reason why he has not been finishing his races.

CONCLUSION: Many ifs and buts here, particularly as the declarations were made in anticipation of a sound surface. Merry Path had plenty in his favour until the rain came yesterday, so with the change in the going, the value alternative could be Knight Templar.

Selection: Knight Templar

Alternative: Merry Path
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Title Annotation:Sports
Author:Delamere, Gerald
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Mar 4, 2000
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