Boite backed to relish Rendlesham distance test


Warren Greatrex is looking forward to stepping Boite up in distance for the Betfred Rendlesham Hurdle at Haydock on Saturday.

The eight-year-old has an extended two and three-quarter miles to travel on Merseyside, compared to the two miles and three furlongs he ran over when successful on his latest start at Taunton four weeks ago.

"He won very well last time. For whatever reason, he seems to be improving as an eight-year-old," said Greatrex.

"This is his first time over this trip, but I've been wanting to run him over it for a while. I think it will suit him. He's won on heavy ground over a mile and six (furlongs) on the Flat, so it shouldn't be a problem.

"It's a nice race to go for and see where we are with him. I'd like to think he'd be competitive."

This will Boite's second race since having a wind operation, but Greatrex cannot be sure if that is the reason for the horse being in such good form.

"He had a wind op 18 months ago and it didn't work that well, but whether this has worked better, I don't really know," said Greatrex.

"He seems in very good nick at home and going into the Taunton race, we were quietly confident he would run a big race and he did.

"He's come on again for that, so he's obviously in a good place at the moment and I think when they are like that, you should step them up and see what they can do.

"He'll like the conditions, it's a small field and good prize money, so we'll give it a go."

With conditions in his favour, Lizzie Kelly expects Agrapart to take some beating following his success in the Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham three weeks ago.

Connections of the Nick Williams-trained seven-year-old aim to strike while the ground is still testing.

"It's quick, but he came out of Cheltenham absolutely bouncing. He thinks the world of himself ever since," Kelly told At The Races.

"It's going to be the ground that he wants. Realistically it's going to dry up soon and we'll run out of options for him so we're going for it.

"He ran there last year and ran a really good race. He'll get his ground so hopefully he'll get the win.

"He's very much a confidence horse, he wants to feel like he's doing really well."

Agrapart was third to the Paul Nicholls-trained Zarkandar in this race a year ago and the pair renewal rivalries.

Zarkandar has something to prove, however, after pulling up in the race won by Sam Spinner over the course and distance in November.

"Zarkandar is good. He won the race the last year and hopefully he can give me a nice ride," said jockey Sam Twiston-Davies.

"He seems in good nick, I schooled him earlier in the week and he felt in good form. He is an old boy now, though, and is getting on a bit.

"He has been a good servant to the yard over the years."

Dan Skelton saddles No Hassle Hoff, who was fourth to Sam Spinner in that Stayers' Handicap Hurdle, while Chris Grant's Donna's Diamond, a course-and-distance winner a month ago, completes the quintet.