This maiden hurdle looks like to develop into a match between Patroclus and Astigar. Patroclus was second on his hurdles debut at Warwick over 2m 5f behind the useful Jay Bee Why, but I just prefer the claims of the David Pipe trained Astigar.
The Pipe yard have been among the winners recently and Astigar was joint favourite on his bumper debut at Uttoxeter in November and was only beaten by a head by Solwara One., who had the benefit of experience when second to Ask A Honey Bee on his bumper debut. He was very impressive when following up on his hurdles debut to really pay a strong compliment to that Uttoxeter bumper. Astigar now goes over hurdles and his form is a little stronger and the trip might be more suitable for Astigar than Patroclus.
This is a tricky rated novice hurdle but Coolbane Boy might be worth a little each-way play. He showed a bit of ability on his first two starts over hurdles and then ran in a bumper at Thurles, where he beat the very useful Power Of Pause (who was 3rd in the Grade 2 Moscow Flyer Novices hurdle at the weekend).
In four starts over hurdles this season Coolbane Boy placed on his first three starts, only being beaten a nose at Listowel in September, before being beaten over three miles at Cork. I’m pretty sure he didn’t really see out the trip that day and returns now after a 93 day break over what would look to be his optimum trip. Testing ground is no issue and is getting weight off most of the field. He has run well fresh previously, so there is no reason why he can’t run well again now.
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Epsion Du Chenet is very much unexposed, only having the three starts in handicaps over fences. He was third at Thurles on his handicap debut and was very impressive when winning easily at Naas off a mark of 90. He got an 8lb rise for that win but was backed like defeat was out of the question when going off 11/8 favourite at Thurles just before Christmas.
Unfortunately for his backers he unseated at the very first fence. The strength behind him in the market that day would suggest that connections believe a mark of 98 is very workable. In the main, he is up against a field of out-of-form horses and perhaps he can recoup the loses from Thurles now.
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