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DIAMOND RIVER jumped poorly when disappointing on his hurdling debut at Uttoxeter in September. But, he clearly possesses his fair share of ability, as he showed when previously winning a bumper at the same venue. He’s likely to prove a different proposition as he gains in experience over hurdles, so he could be worth another chance for the Nicky Henderson yard that has won this race four times since 2012.
CAPTAIN BLACKPEARL showed fair form in three starts over hurdles in 2019/20, including when last seen finishing fourth on his handicap debut at Carlisle in March. He’s had wind surgery since then and now makes the switch to chasing.
Runner-up on his sole start in Irish points, he’s likely to take his form to another level in this sphere and is fancied to prove himself better than a BHA mark of 114 at the first attempt.
VEGAS BLUE looked a bright prospect when opening her account over hurdles at Huntingdon last month, quickening clear in the straight to land the spoils easily by 13 lengths. She has a penalty to contend with in her follow-up bid, but the form she has achieved still makes her the one to beat according to Timeform’s weight-adjusted ratings. She remains with potential, too, and is very hard to oppose.
HAVANA HERMANO proved better than ever when second at Wetherby last time, sticking to his task well to be beaten just a length by the unexposed Amoola Gold. That rival gave the form a boost when following up on his next start at Ascot, so there is every reason to be positive about Havana Hermano from only 2lb higher. Further improvement is not out of the question after only four starts over fences.
STORM GODDESS coped well with the more competitive environment when fourth on her latest appearance at Cheltenham, producing a career-best effort to be beaten less than 3 lengths. She arguably shaped even better than the bare result, doing well to finish as close as she did after being left with too much to do. She is only 1lb higher here and Tom Buckley claims 7lbs, so this looks a good opportunity for her to gain a deserved first win of the season.
JUBILYMPICS jumped soundly when making a successful debut over fences at Fakenham recently, just needing to be driven out to win by 3-and-three-quarter lengths. This contest is likely to take more winning, but the pick of her form over hurdles suggests she is still well treated from only 3lbs higher. Chief market rivals Oscar Rose and Dame du Soir also have the potential to compromise their chances by getting into an early battle for the lead.
PECKINPAH has been running creditably on the Flat in recent weeks and could be the way to go now making his handicap debut over hurdles. He’s still lightly raced in this sphere and should be able to exploit an opening mark of 111 for his powerful yard, with two miles on a flat track likely to prove his optimum conditions.
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