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There are significant doubts about most of these and it’s by a process of elimination that the vote goes to the penalised SHENTRI, even though he finished tired on his British debut last month. Volkovka needs to jump better, but does have some potential and looks the biggest danger.
This could be fought out by a pair of promising sorts who shaped well when runner-up on their hurdling debuts. Point winner Only The Bold is much respected after a pleasing start at Chepstow, but slight preference is for MALINELLO, who battled on bravely at Kempton. The other to consider is useful Flat performer Moon King, whose first run over hurdles was not without encouragement.
Demopolis remains on a good mark despite signing off last season in good form, but he’s worth taking on first time back. Hydroplane is interesting after running well in a loftier grade at Cheltenham, but a chance is taken on Irish raider EMPIRION returning to form. His maiden win in August makes for encouraging reading.
Sedgefield runner-up ARIZONA GLORY looks capable of going one better, given that he’s ahead of the assessor and open to further progress over fences. Somekindofstar and Swilly Sunset are also unexposed in this sphere, while King Golan and Hurricane Vic are likely players among the more experienced types. Second choice is Swilly Sunset.
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Third in this race 12 months ago, PAKIE’S DREAM has taken his form to a higher level this season and has an obvious chance off the same mark as when winning over hurdles at Musselburgh. The 2018 Summer Plate winner More Buck’s took a step back in the right direction last time and would be dangerous if building on that.
Most of the interesting runners in this modest handicap are near the foot of the weights. Jonjoela and Lammturner ran well when second after absences on their most recent starts, and both are capable of going close once more. But, PERMISSION GRANTED (NAP) broke his maiden tag in such clear-cut style at Musselburgh that he looks the one to be on again under a penalty.
Jonjo O’Neill’s well-bred newcomer An Tailliur is respected, while Turpin Gold ran a promising first race at Fakenham last month and may improve, but there was so much promise in ITALIAN SPIRIT‘s Ascot debut that he’s difficult to oppose. He comes from a decent jumping family, represents a yard with a fine record in bumpers and could well be a useful performer in the making.
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