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This looks a weak race and Opine sets the standard on his debut effort at Huntingdon. He was held when falling on soft ground last time, albeit in the process of running respectably, and is considered. But, German import SERGEANT might be worth siding with on his first run for Milton Harris. Sure I’m Your Man shaped with promise on his hurdle debut and, with his yard going well, he looks best of the rest.
Cavalry Scout still has potential if he can cut out the jumping errors, while Blue Monday and Begoodtoyourself also have something to recommend them. WATAR ALLSTAR ran his best race over fences on his return though, and he should be sharper with that behind him.
After winning his last two in such good fashion, a hat-trick looks a distinct possibility for CHEF DE TROUPE. The only real doubt is that he may prefer a drier surface, which bodes well for the recent soft-ground winner Paricolor.
Fabrique En France is much respected as the horse who beat him in Ireland last time has since made a really promising rules debut for Colin Tizzard. However, MIDNIGHT RIVER sets the bar very high on the strength of his latest Cheltenham form, and he is taken to defy a penalty.
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Another competitive leg of this series, with it easy to make cases for most of them. Preference is for TWO TAFFS, who ran surprisingly well in the Grand Annual when last seen and, although behind Theinval that day, he might be the better bet first time back. The latter still commands respect with conditions right up his street, and he’s next best ahead of Sir Ivan.
A competitive race featuring several of interest. Jack Valentine is solid to go well after his encouraging Newton Abbot return, but it could be worth chancing FIL D’ARIANE back from a break with the strong chance that there is more to come from him at this trip. Fergal O’Brien’s new recruit Doyen Dancer is also of interest.
Plenty appear to have realistic each-way claims, with Sei Bella preferred to Roseisaroseisarose, Sienna Royale and Leeswood Lily on that list, but it’s BALLADAME (NAP) who makes most appeal. Tom George’s five-year-old has bumper form which catches the eye, she produced easily her most competitive hurdling display last time and there are major reasons to believe that this longer trip will see her produce better still.
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