A quiet midweek is illuminated by one of the races that jumps enthusiasts like ourselves delight in seeing.
The Haldon Gold Cup is a high quality handicap that forms part of the curtain raising for the National Hunt season.
The 2 mile test always attracts a high quality field and this year is no exception.
We love the long-absent Ar Mad, whose exuberant front running style is a joy to watch. Top weight suggests the handicapper rates him as high as we do, and with just one run in 22 months, this is most likely a prep race for Sandown in a few weeks time where he could be a monster.
He will provide shape to the race, and the likely fierce pace should demand stamina and fitness.
We went through last season thinking Politologue was over-rated. In fairness though he ran pretty well behind Yorkist at Cheltenham and would likely have won at Aintree but for an unfortunate stumble.
Trainer Paul Nicholls usually has them fit first time, and his 2m4f stamina will be an asset on this demanding course. Now looks like the time for him.
Jockey Sam Twiston-Davies should be on a high after steering Politologue, and he can balance the delicate task of riding for main employer Nicholls and dad Nigel by lifting the long distance handicap hurdle for the old man on Arthur Mc Bride.
This horse has had a typically busy campaign of late for the yard, but untypically on the flat. He has been running well and put up a reasonable effort in the Cesarewitch.
Back over hurdles he undoubtedly looks well handicapped. His prominent racing style might help him tidy up his hurdling which was none too fluent when last seen over obstacles. Granted a reasonably fluent round he will be very hard to overhaul.
Politologue (1400 Exeter), 1pt win, 5/2 Stan James
Arthur Mc Bride (1535 Exeter), 1pt win, 7/2 generally available
Politologue & Arthur Mc Bride, 1pt win double, approx 14/1
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