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The Badger Ales Trophy Handicap Chase is the showpiece at Wincanton this afternoon and the race looks as competitive as ever

Tom George saddles DOUBLE SHUFFLE here, who tops BTO+ ratings heading into the affair. The son of Milan came into his own during his second season chasing last term and improved 13 pounds from his novice campaign. The only victory Double Shuffle recorded was at Kempton over the Christmas period when he stayed on strongly on the run in to score by three and a half lengths from the Jonjo O'Neil-trained Go Conquer. After a game second in the BetBright Handicap Chase at the same circuit one month later, the seven year old was then kept fresh to run in the Grand National but was pulled up by Adrian Heskin. Double Shuffle has already made his seasonal reappearance this term at Chepstow, where he was a seven-length second to Romain De Senam when giving away plenty of weight. George's charge should improve for that effort and the Gloucestershire handler brags a 50% better than expected strike rate at Wincanton.

All eyes will be on THEATRE GUIDE after the controversial news of Paddy Brennan losing the ride on Cue Card earlier this week. Nonetheless, the jockey rides for Colin Tizzard and dons the silks of Jean Bishop. The 10 year old son of King's Theatre is running off a career-high official rating of 154 as a result of finishing a close third in the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown in April. Tizzard won this affair 12 months ago with Gentleman Jon and and Brennan knows the chase circuit at Wincanton well, boasting a 36% better than expected win rate.

Paul Nicholls saddles a three-pronged attack and they hold sound claims. Sam Twiston-Davies has opted to take the reins on SOUTHFIELD THEATRE. It was 2015 when the nine year old son of King's Theatre landed himself in the winners' enclosure in was a novice chase at Wincanton. To his credit, Southfield Theatre's progress has been hampered by injuries and he has his first start since last December when he was eighth at Cheltenham. Twiston-Davies must feel his mount has a chance and Nicholls applies cheek pieces for the first time; his horses show a 40% better than expected win rate when they make their maiden appearance wearing headgear.

MR MIX is also trained by the Ditcheat trainer and is second-best rated by BTO+. The six year old son of Al Namix is still a novice and has won two of his three chase starts. Mr Mix scored on his debut over larger obstacles at Warwick in May before winning at Wincanton by two and a half lengths from his elders last month. Connections must feel the gelding is capable of making his presence felt in this company and fledgling jockey Harry Cobden boasts an 18% better than expected strike rate in the past fortnight.

PRESENT MAN is Nicholl's final runner and benefits from Bryony Frost's five-pound claim. The son of Presenting is very much on an upward curve, having won three of his past six races. Present Man made a successful seasonal reappearance in novice hurdle company last month to protect his chase mark and 142 seems fair.

On his day, FLETCHERS FLYER is a real talent but struggles to string together cast-iron consistency. He was an impressive winner at the Punchestown Festival in 2016 but drew blank from his three efforts last term. The handicapper has dropped Harry Fry's charge two pounds, nevertheless, and the Dorset trainer's runners returning in November off a 150+ days break show a 28% better than expected win rate.

YALA ENKI ended last season in fine fettle by clinching a handicap by seven lengths at Kelso under top weight under a front-running ride by Liam Treadwell. The Welsh National could be an option for Venitia Williams' charge next month and over today's course and distance Treadwell has produced a 65% better than expected strike rate.

Article Posted on Saturday 11th November 2017 @ 06.59

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