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Sea faces acid test in Melling

Edrward O'Grady is fully aware of the task facing Tranquil Sea in the John Smith's Melling Chase at Aintree.

The nine-year-old missed the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham through injury, but has now returned to full fitness.

O'Grady said: "We think he's well and ready to go, but I realise he'll have to run better than he's ever done before if he's to win. It looks a very open race and I think my horse is in great shape, but he will have to step up a bit. The ground should be fine for him."

Owner Clive Smith is looking forward to seeing Master Minded step back up in distance on Friday. The dual Champion Chase hero disappointed in last month's renewal of the two-mile contest at Cheltenham, but Smith believes his charge is now better suited by a stiffer test of stamina on a softer surface.

"I believe the going is good to soft, which we're happy about, and we're looking forward to the race. Everything seems fine with the horse and we know he's in good shape. We think he would have run better than he did at Cheltenham if the ground had been softer," said Smith.

"I think it was just a bit quick for him over two miles, but two and a half miles on good to soft should be just right for him. He's won over two miles three, so he should stay two and a half miles all right. It will certainly open up a few more options if he can prove himself. We're looking to step him up in trip next season - the King George is a possibility."

Somersby has been running well in defeat over lesser distances all season, most recently placing fifth in the Champion Chase after making a bad mistake three out. His trainer Henrietta Knight hopes the step up in distance will help her charge in the jumping department.

"It will be interesting to see how he re-adapts to going back over two and a half miles," said Knight. "He actually ran over this trip at Aintree last year and it didn't go very well, but he got kicked at the start and fell over before he got on the course and all sorts of things.

"If he doesn't make a bad mistake, as he has been doing recently, he should run very well. The step up in trip should help his jumping and I think when he steps up to three miles next season he'll be better still."


From Belfast Telegraph