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STEAL A MARCH opened his account with a gutsy performance at Hereford a year ago, and he matched that form when filling the frame in handicaps at Warwick in March, and at Cheltenham on his return to action last month.
He shaped better than the bare result on the latter occasion, hampered four out but rallying well to take third late on, finishing with running left. Castle Robin finished a couple of places ahead of him that day, but Nicky Henderson’s charge could reverse that form with a little more luck in-running.
EVERGLOW showed plenty of ability to place in a couple of bumpers last season and, after finding the Grade 2 Persian War Novices’ Hurdle a little too stiff a task on his hurdling debut, regained the progressive thread in a Chepstow maiden in October.
He was no match for subsequent Grade 2 winner Star Gate but pulling clear of the remainder. That is the best form on offer in this field and – with further improvement anticipated – Everglow gets the vote to open his account.
FLEGMATIK improved on his hurdles form at the first time of asking when making a successful chasing debut at Carlisle in October. He belied any temperament doubts as he quickened to lead soon after the last, ridden out to get the better of a subsequent winner. He met all the trouble going when fifth at Sandown last time, so it is easy to put a line through that run. He demands plenty of consideration for the in-form Dan Skelton yard.
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A useful bumper winner, SOARING GLORY made the perfect start to his hurdling career with victory at Chepstow in October. He was value for a good deal more than the bare margin too, winning cosily under a confident ride by Jonjo O’Neill Jr.
He improved on that effort to finish second at Newbury last month (conceding weight to the winner) and he looked to be in the process of regaining the winning thread when coming down two out at Wetherby last time. He is likely to progress further and looks well up to winning more races.
Winner of last season’s Tolworth, FIDDLERONTHEROOF looked to have plenty going for him ahead of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in March, but he proved the major disappointment of the race, and was trouble a long way out, never threatening. He has made a bright start to his chasing career however, off the mark over fences at Exeter last month
There was plenty to like about that effort, and just finding himself on the wrong end of an effective match at Newbury last time, though the time encourages a positive view of that effort. It is still early days with him over fences and he remains open to improvement, particularly with the forecast deep ground likely to show him to even better effect.
STAGE STAR made appeal on paper head of his debut at Chepstow in October – by Irish Derby-winner Fame And Glory out of Sparky May – and he duly looked a good prospect in winning by 7 lengths. He led under 2 furlongs out before drawing clear with 200 yards to go, doing so in impressive fashion.
He is the type to progress further, and with Paul Nicholls’ stable firmly among the winners in this sphere this season, he gets the vote to defend his unbeaten record. Stablemate Knappers Hill looks the chief threat after winning his own debut by seven lengths.
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