Cogry has a fine record at Cheltenham and looks weighted to retain his crown in the feature race there on Friday, the 3m 2f Grade 3 BetVictor Handicap Chase (14:30).
Trained locally by Nigel Twiston-Davies, this 10-year-old has won three times and been placed on three occasions in 14 starts at the home of jumps racing.
He showed a really likeable attitude to land the spoils in this 12 months ago when digging deep for pressure to gamely hold off the late challenge of Singefarmpayment by a head off a mark of 139.
Cogry got put up to 142 for that taking success and failed to trouble in two subsequent starts, finishing a well-beaten 10th in the Classic Chase at Warwick before unseating his rider at the last in the Scottish Grand National at Ayr when in fifth place and looking held.
However, all his best form has traditionally come in the first half of the season.
There was a lot to like about his return to action at The Showcase meeting here in October when third of 15 to The Conditional.
Given a chance by assessor
After racing with zest at the heads of affairs, Cogry got headed three from home but then rallied to regain the lead when bypassing the omitted third last fence.
He then got headed two out, but struck to the task in determined fashion to be beaten just under four lengths.
The winner, to whom he was conceding 8lb, has since gone on to run a cracker when second in the valuable Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury – so that gives the form a rock solid look.
Cogry also now meets the runner-up West Approach on 10lb better terms, so that should be more than enough to see him turn the tables on Colin Tizzard’s charge.
The handicapper also appears to have been really kind in leaving the son of Kings Theatre on an unchanged mark of 139 – the same as when landing the BetVictor Handicap Chase last year.
Cogry is also versatile as regards ground and has a tremendous strike rate of 40 per cent under Sam Twiston-Davies, who is once again in the plate.
So, taking everything into account, there is nothing not to like about his chances. Cogry looks well worth a wager at the 11/2 on offer with Ladbrokes here.
Rock The Kasbah fared most in BetVictor Handicap Chase
Rock The Kasbah is back down to a handy mark, so – having shaped with promise on seasonal reappearance rates – the main danger to Cogry. This Philip Hobbs trained nine-year-old has been a tremendous servant over the years.
He was last successful at this venue 13 months ago when finding plenty for pressure to beat Royal Vacation by just over a length in a competitive 14-runner Grade 3 affair off a rating of 147.
That saw Rock The Kasbah sent off a heavily-backed 4/1 favourite to follow-up in this off 6lb higher (153) but, after making a costly mistake at the 18th, he weakened badly three from home to trail in a 29-length sixth of nine to Cogry.
This son of Shirocco then fell in the Grand National at Aintree, before running no sort of a race when pulled-up in the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown. The latter was too bad to be true.
There was lots to like about Rock The Kasbah’s return to action in the Badger Ales Trophy at Wincanton last month when seventh of 12 to Give Me A Copper off 150.
Although eventually beaten 19 lengths, Rock The Kasbah raced prominently with plenty of enthusiasm until getting headed two from home and weakening out of contention.
He shaped as if needing the run, so looks sure to strip much fitting for the outing which was his first in 196 days.
Rock The Kasbah is now able to race in this off 3lb lower, and a revised rating of 148 is just 1lb higher than when last victorious.
It gives him every chance from a handicapping perspective. Rock The Kasbah can be backed a tempting each-way price of 9/1 with race sponsors BetVictor, who pay four places.
Onefortheroadtom appeals each-way
In a where a case can be made for the majority of the 12 runners, Onefortheroadtom is another that looks well worth considering from an each-way betting perspective at the 7/1 on offer with Unibet.
After winning his sole start in an Irish point, this six-year-old took the scalp of subsequent Grade 1 winner Lalor when making a winning debut over hurdles at Exeter for Harry Fry.
Although yet to get his head in front in eight starts over fences, Onefortheroadtom has posted some solid efforts in defeat.
They include when a fine 6 1/2 lengths second of 10 to Heron Heights in a top class Punchestown Festival handicap back in May off a mark of 122.
Onefortheroadtom is able to race in this off just 4lb higher. His current rating of 125 is 12lb below his initial chase mark of 137.
He also comes into the contest having shaped well when fourth of 15 to The Conditional here, in the race in which Cogry came third, when keeping on and beaten just under six lengths from 3lb out of the handicap.
Onefortheroadtom is now 2lb better off with Cogry, who beat him by two lengths, so there is little to choose between the pair at the revised weights.
He made a mistake at the last that day, so would arguably have finished closer but for that costly error. Connections are also now fitting Onefortheroadtom with blinkers for the first time.
As he sneaks into the BetVictor Handicap Chase off bottom-weight of just 10st 1lb, so thing looks in place for a bold bid.