Second at Ayr in May on his chasing bow, Commodore Barry wasn’t beaten far on his return to action at Exeter though the form hasn’t worked out. In contrast, COOLANLY’s run behind Esprit Du Large at the same track received a huge boost when the winner landed the Grade 1 Henry VIII Novices’ Chase at Sandown on Saturday. Fergal O’Brien’s seven-year-old is also a nice prospect for chasing. Stratford winner Rocco has dropped a pound since his third at Market Rasen while jockey bookings would suggest Before Midnight is preferred to Pistol Whipped of Nicky Henderson’s two newcomers. Mystical Clouds should also have a future over fences but he, too, has an absence to overcome.
Commodore Barry (IRE) 2-1 (11-1) Led, jumped well, sent 6 out, strongly challenged from 4 out, headed approaching last, soon rallied and every chance, stayed on gamely, 2nd of 5, 3/4l behind Virginia Chick (11-1) at Exeter 3m (2) sft in Nov.
Coolanly (IRE) 13-8fav (11-2) Chased leading pair, went 2nd 6th, hit 11th, lost 2nd approaching 4 out, plugged on in 3rd, went 2nd again post, never going pace of winner, 2nd of 6, 2 1/4l behind Esprit Du Large (11-2) at Exeter 2m 3f (3) sft in Nov.
Rocco (IRE) 13-8fav (11-8) Tracked leader, reminders after 10th, pushed along after 4 out, led next, headed 2 out, soon ridden and one pace, no impression with front pair from last, 3rd of 6, 8 3/4l behind Buster Valentine (11-2) at Market Rasen 2m 5f hcp (3) sft in Nov.
Before Midnight 5-1 (11-4) Held up in touch, headway tracking leaders before 4th, led 8th, ridden between last 2, headed last, not pace of winner, 2nd of 7, 3 3/4l behind Aye Right (11-7) at Ayr 3m hcp (3) gd in Apr.
Pistol Whipped (IRE) 9-4fav (11-7) Chased leaders, pushed along and outpaced after 3 out, behind and pulled up before next, at Sandown 2m 4f hcp (3) sft in Mar.
Mystical Clouds (IRE) 10-1 (11-8) Raced keenly, tracked leaders on inside, ridden and outpaced on long run before 2 out, went modest 3rd between last 2, 3rd of 9, 16 1/4l behind Pym (11-8) at Kempton 2m 5f (4) gs in Jan.
Ivilnoble (IRE) 18-1 (10-11) Led, fiddled 3rd, headed 11th, chased leader until next, soon behind, tailed off and pulled up before 4 out, at Aintree 3m 1f hcp (3) sft in Oct.