Royale Knight certainly loves these marathon trips and comes into his own once they go further than 3-miles. If he lines up for any race over 3m4f he has to be seriously considered.
There is only one race on my radar for Friday, and that is the Bet365 (Listed) handicap chase at 2:15pm over 2m3f & 85 yards. Only 8 runners go to post, and one who stands out is on my alert list - Wakanda. A 6yo trained by Sue Smith, he improved well last season, running in 8 chases in his novice season, winning 3 times. That included giving recent chase winner Oscar Rock a good thumping - and he gave him 5lb too! A bold front-runner, he was outclassed in the Grade 1 Novice Chase at Aintree in April but, before that, he's shown himself capable of a 145+ performance. Off OR139 he will take some beating and odds of 8/1 look generous.
Also in the race is Theatre Guide who, two seasons ago, ran 3rd in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury off OR145, and who is now on OR140. He's only had 6 races since that Hennessy run, and was last seen refusing when beaten in the Topham Chase over the National fences at Aintree. He clearly stays 3-mile and more, so is this 2m3f trip too short for him? At 4/1, his odds look too short despite him being one of the classiest in the race.
Pumped Up Kicks is the 9/2, 2nd-fav carrying 10st13lb, only 8lb less than Theatre Guide. Personally, I think this horse will need to find significant improvement on his recent form, and he does not strike me as the sort of horse who will find 7lb+ which is what he'll need to do to win this.
Off The Ground is next in the market at 5/1, but he lost the plot when with his previous trainer, and was running ok till falling on his debut for Charlie Longsdon 4-weeks ago. He still has to prove he's back to form for me. And Firth Of The Clyde will likely prefer a trip shorter than this and his stamina will be put to the test. Stamina is also the doubt for Mountain King as every time he's raced beyond 2m1f he's struggled.
Both Fago and Shadows Lengthen has something to prove. Fago beat Simply Ned (now rated OR161) as a novice chaser in November 2013, giving him 7lb and a 3-length beating. Unfortunately, he's come knowhere near that form since. Shadows Lengthen won this race last season off a 2lb lower mark, but he had the benefit of a run then, and he usually needs a run to get his season going. This year he comes to the race fresh, and that may scupper his chances. However, the trip and ground are perfect for him.
At the odds, and being the youngest in the race (alongside Mountain King), I have to take the plunge with WAKANDA as it may be one of those opportunities we get rarely in a season to make hay. This is an exciting 6yo and is one we will return to a few times this season.