Sedgefield first, and the Class 3, 3m3f handicap hurdle at 2:30pm in which only 8-runners go to post. Personally, I think we can immediately discount Night In Milan who will be using this race to attain race-fitness for a handicap chase in November. His trainer sent him out for 2 handicap hurdles at this time last year, and he made no impression in either. The top-weight Sealous Scout isn't a confirmed stayer at this trip as he's only won once from 7 races beyond 2m6f, and when he won he beat another non-stayer.
The Grey Monk has had an interesting short life. Sold as a foal for just 350 Euros (£300), he went thru' the sales ring at Goffs as a 4yo store-horse for 210,000 Euros! He was purchased by Alan Potts (owner of Sizing Europe) and trained by Henry de Bromhead, but failed to show the promise of his physique, and so went back to the sales where he was sold for just £2500 in September 2014 to his current owner. So far he's won 2 from 3 races for his new owner, who had to go to £14,500 to retain him when he won a "seller" LTO. I think his OR124 rating looks reasonable and though his stamina is an unknown beyond 3-mile, he shapes as tho' he will stay the trip. Vaihau has only once shown a glimmer of form, that was when winning over 3-mile at Towcester. However, the fav pulled-up and the other 3 rivals where badly handicapped and outclassed.
The 10yo Snapping Turtle is consistent, but slow, and I can't see him winning. I also can't see the 6yo Iora Glas winning as he's looked very one-paced beyond 2m4f. George Fernbeck has recently been chasing. As such, his OR115 rating looks a tad high for hurdles, by about 10lb; but he does stay 3-mile-plus. Finally, Jac The Legend returns to hurdles after wining his debut chase in the Spring and following-up with another decent effort. Whether he'll transfer his chase form back to hurdles is debateable, but he has some ability.
For a Class 3 hurdle, now I've looked at the runners I can see why Night In Milan is so short in the betting - the opposition is dire.
Onto the Durham National handicap chase at 3:00pm over a trip of 3m5f. This Class 3 chase will take some staying, but seems to have attracted a small, but useful field of decent horses. Lackamon won this in 2013 (when run in April), and was 2nd last year (when run in October) but doesn't look capable of being involved this year. Royale Knight beat him last year to win this race, but races off a 12lb higher rating of OR136, which looks tough but he is strong on stamina, having finished only 15-lengths behind the winner Many Clouds in the Aintree Grand National in April. Sun Cloud was 4th last year off OR132, when he patently failed to stay the trip. So off OR140 it would be a surprise if he could turn the tables on Royale Knight.
On his day, Twirling Magnet is a 145+ chaser over 3-miles; but only he knows when these days are! He's not done well this summer, but has been given a break of 123-days and that may have rekindled his enthusiasm. Stamina beyond 3-mile is possibly his weak spot, as he's fallen or unseated at eith the final fence or 2nd-last on 3 occasions when he's tired at about 3-mile. There are no stamina issues about Woodford County, who started as joint-fav for the Welsh National last December. A winner at 3m2f on soft ground, OR126 looks very lenient for the 8yo, and this horse is the only runner for Philip Hobbs at Sedgefield today, and his first runner at the track in over 5 years. Finally, we have Finish The Story and this one doesn't look capable of winning off OR114, even with just 10st in the saddle.