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This looks an ordinary race of its type and BECKY THE BOO is very much the one to beat. She shaped with promise on debut when finishing fourth in a bumper that is working out well at Newbury in November, looking in need of the experience but showing ability all the same. The second and third have both won since and Becky The Boo is entitled to come on for that experience. This looks a good opportunity.
The Michael Dods-trained JOMONT is bred for the Flat and looks the one to side with after producing a promising debut at Doncaster in November. He started a relatively unfancied 22/1 shot on that occasion, but showed ability to finish fourth.
He left the impression he was in need of the experience, but staying on nicely in the final furlong. He should have learnt plenty from that initial experience and, it is worth noting his most notable sibling won five times from 10 starts on the Flat.
The ones with experience don’t set an exacting standard here, so it could be worth chancing Brian Ellison’s newcomer HACKBERRY. His dam is a half-sister to the smart pair Ideal World and Romantica, who are out of the high-class Banks Hill, so he looks a good purchase at 12,000 guineas and represents a yard that do well in these events. Schalke and Okavango Delta have both made promising starts to their respective careers and are considered the main threats.
MOON KING opened his account over hurdles at the third attempt at Musselburgh recently and, given his Flat background (useful sort for Ralph Beckett), he should relish this sort of test. He gets the nod ahead of the likeable Rayna’s World, with Busy Street another one to consider for a yard that did well in these races last year.
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SNOOKERED won a similar event over course and distance last year, and has performed respectably on this surface on the Flat here in recent starts. Perhaps he is a safer option than the useful bumper/hurdle performer Irish Roe, given that the tapeta surface was put forward as an excuse when she was turned over at short odds in a similar event at Wolverhampton last winter.
SAO didn’t reach the heights once expected for Paul Nicholls, but he has been revitalised since joining this yard Rebecca Menzies. He has won his last two starts over fences in good style, the latest by 3-and-a-half lengths at Newbury.
He is building a good rapport with this conditional rider and he should have enough speed for a test like this. Onthefrontfoot won a bumper on debut in March 2019, so looks the danger for the in-form Donald McCain yard.
ROAD WARRIOR has been in good form in handicap chases of late, finishing runner-up at Wetherby and Sedgefield the last twice. It could be in a jumpers’ bumper where he can gain a deserved first success. A consistent sort, he is preferred to the likes of Armattiekan and Wye Aye, who are a couple of the other likely contenders.
BUSHYPARK has made excellent strides over hurdles in recent months, landing a gamble to open his account at Hexham in November and completing a four-timer in good style at Doncaster in December. This will be his first time in a race of this type, but he’s fancied to continue the good work in this sphere, while Zamarkhan and Carry On are two others to consider.
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