Following an eye-catching stable debut for Fergal O'Brien at Ayr back in November, Viva Steve will make a much anticipated return at Warwick live on Sky Racing 1 on Saturday night.
Formerly trained by Mick Channon, Viva Steve was having his first run for O'Brien after a 200 day spell when putting together a bold jumping performance in making all over an extended three miles at Ayr. The nine-year-old looked to have improved based on that performance and found plenty when challenged by Ballyben down the home straight, staying on strongly to the line.
Stamina is definitely his forte, having previously been tried over four miles at the Cheltenham Festival, and is regarded as a potential National horse. Indeed he was subsequently aimed at the Welsh National but failed to make the weights and connections are now hoping that further success will bring him into the reckoning to make the Grand National field.
Saturday's Betfred Classic Handicap Chase (Race 6) is raced over 3m5f and should very much bring his stamina into the equation as he will be one looking to ensure a strong pace in the Grade 3 contest.
Viva Steve is the one to note and should be a backable each-way price while the main opposition may well come from another chaser who signalled a return to his best last start in the form of Doctor Harper. The David Pipe-trained nine-year-old travelled and jumped well before just failing to peg back Tour Des Champs at Cheltenham on New Years Day. He had struggled in his previous three starts and although in good company those performances were undoubtedly below form. The Cheltenham run showed him back to his best and in due course should be able to add to his sole chasing success.
Catch all the Warwick action live on Sky Racing on Saturday night.
G3 - Lowland S
Listed - Ibhayi Stakes
G3 - Northern Trotting Breeders Stakes
G1 - Pascoes The Jewellers Northern Oaks
G3 - The Founders Cup (1700)