MELODIC RENDEZVOUS can further bolster his burgeoning reputation among the leading two-mile hurdlers by claiming the scalp of chief rival Zarkandar in today’s feature event at Wincanton, the £60,000 Bathwick Tyres Kingwell Hurdle over two miles.
This of course provided the recent torrential rainfall that has resulted in severe floods in the precincts of the county Somerset venue recede enough to allow the saturated ground to remain raceable. Track officials have expressed optimism that the meet will proceed as scheduled.
Melodic Rendezvous has already shown that he is one of the best around (hurdlers) competing around the two-mile range. The progressive son of Where Or When has won six times, with two second-place finishes, from nine appearances under ‘Rules’. And his disappointing fifth-placing in Newcastle’s ‘Fighting Fifth’ seeming more of an aberration against the backdrop of his collateral form.
In today’s Grade Two assignment, Jeremy Scott’s standard bearer comes up against a worthy opponent in the Paul Nicholls-trained Zarkandar. But the rain-sodden turf is likely to favour our selection, whose relish for boggy conditions could even be likened to that of a pig in mud.
Zarkandar, however, while having won on soft going in his career, has shown his best form in the spring, principally at the Cheltenham and Aintree Festivals, when generally there is better ground. In fact, trainer Scott has suggested that Melodic Rendezvous’ participation at Cheltenham in about three weeks’ time is ground dependent.
If the recent weather pattern continues to hold, he is likely to line-up against the likes of two-time Champion Hurdle champion Hurricane Fly. But Scott has warned those considering having an ante-post wager on his charge to negotiate a ‘non-runner, no-bet’ committment from the bookies, as he isn’t too keen on running the chestnut gelding on lively going should track conditions at Prestbury Park dry up.
Melodic Rendezvous simply oozed class on his most recent appearance four weeks ago, when ‘dotting up’ in the Champion Hurdle Trial (two miles) at Haydock. The 4 1/2-length winning margin simply was not a true indication of his superiority over the opposition. He could have doubled that tally if asked a serious question by jockey Nick Scholfield in the Grade Two test.
There is, however, an upside to having had a relatively easy time of things last out as he would not have been unduly taxed in his winning effort.
And if called on to dig deep to repel the challenge of Zarkandar, Melodic Rendezvous should have plenty left in the reserves.