Marathon trip is right up West’s Street

Steve Hughes has two picks for a busy Sunday’s jumping

After a tremendous Saturday’s racing, Sunday’s action will not disappoint either with four fixtures and some valuable prizes at each. I have a selection for the Borders National at Kelso and the big race of the day the John Durkan Memorial at Punchestown. We found the Becher Chase winner yesterday in Walk in the Mill (advised 9/1) and Smarty Wild placed for the each-way bet (advised 13/2).

Kelso 1.15: Weststreet

A horse who took to marathon chases like a duck to water in the spring, Weststreet still looks at the right end of the handicap and the in-form Oliver Sherwood takes his 9yo on the long trek from Lambourn in search of this valuable pot.

His form had been distinctly average for a number of seasons even at 3m, but he showed definite improvement when staying on grimly for third in the 3m5f Surrey National at Lingfield. He then won the 4m chase at Hexham during Cheltenham Festival week – the race that arguably needs more staying power than any other race in the calendar given the track’s undulations.

That progress was maintained when taking the Highlands National at Perth in April and a 5lb rise is offset by his jockey’s claim here. He had a run out at Carlisle last month and whilst well beaten that day, that effort will have served its purpose as this contest will surely have been the target for some time.

Punchestown 1.50: Real Steel

A strong field for the John Durkan and at an each-way price Real Steel appeals.

It is difficult to look past Min as the likely winner, but this is his first run of the season. He is at his best forcing the pace and will need to be fit to do so against this line-up and battling into a strong wind. Therefore the fit and in-form Real Steel should be in a position to pick up the pieces. He loved the hold up tactics employed at Down Royal where ho won the Grade 2 Chase by 14l.

A fast improver, he relished a strong pace when landing a big handicap at the Punchestown Festival and at the age of six he is clearly coming into his own now. This intermediate trip suits ideally, whereas Presenting Percy is more of a 3m specialist and arguably this is at the top end of Min’s stamina reserves.

Recommended bets:

1pt each-way – Weststreet – 1.15 Kelso – 10/1 BetVictor (1/5 odds 1st 4)

0.75pts each-way – Real Steel – 1.50 Punchestown – 15/2 Coral

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