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A number of these could be well ahead of their marks, and the betting may be more significant than in many handicap hurdles. A solid option is HAZZAAR, who made an encouraging return for Tom Lacey in a warm race at Cheltenham four weeks ago. Hooper heads the list of dangers, but Aquila Sky, Nightboattoclyro and Borodin are all dangerous lurkers in a fascinating contest.
The unexposed five-year-old PRUDHOMME ran an encouraging race on last month’s chase debut at Wincanton and there can be optimism he will build on that performance today. He is the pick ahead of Casa Tall, who wasn’t disgraced on his chase debut when back from a long absence, and who is well handicapped on his hurdle form. The mare Nightfly is next on the list.
A race of this nature should be SILENT ASSISTANT‘s for the taking after his fine second in a competitive handicap at Cheltenham last month. Gosheven, who departed through no fault of his own at this course on his reappearance, is respected and looks the biggest danger.
Preference is for EVANDER (NAP), who went the right way over hurdles and has shaped with encouragement on both his attempts at chasing. Shut The Box could be well treated and may build on a pleasing start over fences over today’s longer trip, while Captain Blackpearl was impressive at Kempton, but must now contend with a 13lb higher mark.
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Nicky Henderson may hold the key here with a couple of unexposed types. Clarendon Street should not be underestimated after a long absence – especially with Joe Anderson claiming a handy 10lbs – but this looks a good opportunity for GLYNN to maintain his perfect record. Carys’ Community is very solid and looks the main danger.
An open veterans’ event, probably a stronger renewal than the one Horatio Hornblower won 12 months ago. Lord Scoundrel has a different profile from the others, coming here after a point win and a run in a hunter chase. He’s very much respected, but a safer option is NIGHTLINE, who bids for compensation after a last-fence departure at Huntingdon last month. Twojayslad is dangerous at the foot of the weights.
This could be dominated by a pair well ahead of their marks. Bushypark faces tougher opposition and encounters less testing conditions than for his recent hat-trick of demolition jobs, but he needs taking very seriously indeed if turned out for the third time in nine days.
Narrow preference, however, is for HYDROPLANE, whose unpenalised win at Market Rasen under Charlie Todd was not unexpected; there’s probably better to come from him. Hereford winner Mustang Alpha may be best of the others.
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