The Betfred Classic Chase over 3m 5f is worth £55,000 and this year’s renewal looks wide open. My each-way selection against the field is Neptune Equester at 13-2 with the sponsors. Brian Ellison’s charge proved his key asset is stamina when grinding out second place in a Class 3 handicap chase in November over 3m4f. Neptune Equester was subsequently nailed for speed at Wetherby when dropped back in trip to 3m1f on his latest outing. Versatile on both good to firm and heavy going it’s not unthinkable the nine-year old can go close in the marathon trip of the Grand National this season and he should be running on at the end of 3m5f on Saturday when others have cried enough. Outwith the key jump races of the weekend there are two horses worth following. In the 1.50 at Wetherby a Class 4 Handicap Hurdle – Sustainability from the Venetia Williams stable has been massively progressive in handicap company winning at both Hereford and Uttoxeter. Making all last time out at Uttoxeter he powerfully forged clear with the promise of more to come. Sustainability faces an 8lb rise for that triumph but it may not be enough to stop him reaching the winner’s enclosure again. Across the sea in Ireland in the 3.00 at Leopardstown, Allure Of Illusion is a horse I have been waiting on to make his seasonal reappearance. A half-brother to the useful 2m hurdler Blackstairmountain his hurdles debut has been keenly anticipated. Third in last seasons Grade 2 bumper at the Aintree Grand National meeting to Cheltenham Supreme Novices favourite Steps To Freedom, Allure of Illusion can put himself firmly on the bookmakers’ festival lists with a win on Saturday.
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