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This 2-and-a-half mile handicap chase has any number of front runners/pressers in it and despite the ground drying out at the Sunbury-On-Thames track it is still going to be a relative test, albeit on a speedsters’ track.
There is still reason to watch the market moves of the very lightly raced Pistol Whipped who remains a work in progress and has any amount of scope to take another step forward, which to be fair he needs to in order to win off 134.
His slick jumping at the head of affairs will be a huge asset and it is not hard to believe that he could be a near 150’s rated chaser in the not so distant future. However, if you are looking for a spot of value then look right down at the basement of the weights and cue Matt Sheppard’s mare.
In an attempt to rekindle her enthusiasm she was reverted to hurdles last time and despite finishing only sixth of eight that day, he finishing position doesn’t do justice to her performance. The selection had every chance between the last two hurdles before weakening badly, but that was a big step in the right direction. She is now a full 10lbs lower than her last placed mark and 17lbs lower than her last success over fences.
Highland Hunter has always looked a chaser in the making and his recent third behind the prolific Main Fact in the big handicap hurdle on Betfair Chase day at Haydock Park gives you a line to the level of form he may well be capable of on his chase debut, with the ground not being an issue either.
However, the chasing experience of HOLD THAT TAUGHT could prove crucial. A four-race novice hurdle career was merely a pre-cursor before he went chasing and the son of Kayf Tara has run two solid races in that sphere.
A solid enough second at Lingfield Park in deep, clawing ground on his chase debut was improved upon dramatically when he ran a cracking race behind Demachine at Ascot. He jumped left on occasions that day, so going this way around should help him. This stiffer track should also help as it places a premium on stamina, something that the six-year-old seems to have in abundance.
There looks likely to be plenty of pace on here for this renewal of the Relkeel Hurdle with Sumerville Boy and the still unexposed McFabulous likely to need a good test at this trip around this speedsters’ course. The last named was far from disgraced when third to Thyme Hill and Paisley Park in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury and could have plenty more in the locker.
I have to admit I did think about having a wager on Thomas Darby, who should be suited to this intermediate trip, but he has enough to find with Summerville Boy on Ascot form earlier this season. What CALL ME LORD needs is to go right-handed and get a good tow into the race. That is absolutely the scenario he gets here.
You have to forgive him a disappointing run in the International Hurdle at Cheltenham, but if you brush that run under the form carpet, he’s got a great shot at this Grade Two prize.
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With Glen Forsa and Slate House too high in the weights, and Copeland better at the minimum trip this doesn’t look as competitive as it first seemed at the five-day stage and the Oli Greenall-trained novice EVANDER could take some catching off bottom weight.
The six-year-old jumped like a buck when making all the running and marching 15 lengths clear of his three rivals at Doncaster. Despite being raised 9lbs, he could still be ahead of the assessor – especially as the Somerset track favours those that race prominently.
Of course, this is a much deeper race, but his efficient fencing could have a few of these in trouble some way out. I fancy that Tidal Flow, given some mercy by the handicapper, could prove his biggest rival ahead of course and distance winner Gala Ball.
There are plenty of progressive sorts in a maximum field of 20 for this renewal of the Lanzarote Hurdle with the likes of Glynn, Big Bad Bear, ante-post favourite Everglow and Misty Whisky at the top of that category. Of that quartet, Big Bad Bear is the one I am most likely to have a saver on as I was really taken by his Doncaster success over a shade shorter.
That length-and-a-half victory was achieved despite some sloppy jumping and it was his top-class engine that saw him gallop through the line. He is sure to have learnt from that effort, the Northern raider could well put it down to the vastly more experienced POLISH who already has seven races over timber under his belt.
He ran well over the course and distance last year when a never nearer fourth of 17 behind Downtown Getaway, doing all of his best work down the home stretch. And he has continued on an upward curve in five outings since, recording a career best effort when third in the Grade Two Ballymore Novices Hurdle at Cheltenham in November.
With the reliable Connor Brace taking a valuable 3lbs off his back, a mark of 128 looks very realistic and as long as he gets the end-to-end gallop he needs, the son of Teofilo should hit the frame as the very least.
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