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This looks between chasing debutant CHANTRY HOUSE and Pic d’Orhy. The former showed useful form as a novice over hurdles last season, winning his first two starts before finishing a creditable third to Shiskin in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
A tall gelding, who won his only completed start in points, Chantry House looks a smashing chasing prospect for top connections and will likely take top rank in the division. Pic d’Orhy has the benefit of experience, but will need to brush up his jumping.
TIME FLIES BY was a useful winner in bumpers, and he must be held in some regard at home given he made his hurdling debut in a Grade 2 over two miles at this course last season, shaping with lots of promise. He again caught the eye upped to this trip when finishing fifth to Envoi Allen in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival last time, just not clued up enough to make an impact at that level. This represents his easiest task to date over hurdles and he is fancied to make a winning return before moving back up in class.
This looks a cracking race with plenty of potential on show. Preference is for the Harry Fry-trained METIER, who showed a useful level of form on the Flat in Ireland last year, and looked an above-average recruit when making a winning start over hurdles in a novice at Newton Abbot last month.
He won by 10 lengths that day in attritional conditions, the first two pulling miles clear of the remainder, and Metier hardly put a foot wrong, travelling and jumping fluently. There should be plenty more to come from him and he tops the shortlist.
DEAUVILLE DANCER only made it to the track twice last year, but he shaped very well behind a handicap blot at Exeter on his return before going the wrong way over three miles at Kempton three weeks later. He left the impression he didn’t stay the longer trip on that occasion, fading in the latter stages. Deauville Dancer has since switched to Olly Murphy, who is a dab hand with new recruits, and a mark of 133 looks attractive. He can make a winning start for a new yard.
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BUZZ was a useful performer on the Flat and made a good start to life over hurdles last season, winning two of his three starts. He shaped well on his first run for eight months when third in the Welsh Champion Hurdle at Chepstow in October, one of the least exposed in the field but not looking out of place.
That form looks very strong now, with the winner following up in the Elite Hurdle next time and the second filling the same position in the Greatwood Handicap at Cheltenham. Buzz has only been raised 1lb in the weights for that effort and looks one of the strongest bets on the card.
MR MULDOON is a very likeable type who has won four of his six starts under Rules and took well to this discipline when winning a maiden chase at Sedgefield last month, his stamina winning him the race on the day.
The first two home came clear of the remainder and Mr Muldoon is entitled to strip fitter for that run, while the step back up in trip will also bring about further improvement in this sphere. An opening mark of 134 looks workable and a big run is expected.
This looks wide open and a chance is taken on SILVER NICKEL, who shaped well when fourth on his return here 20 days ago. Seamus Mullins’ charge was doing his best work in the closing stages on that occasion, leaving the impression that this stiffer test would be right up his street, and he can go well again on just his second handicap start.
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