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A lightly-raced maiden under Rules, Word Has It ran his best race to date when second to useful prospect Pay The Piper at Sedgefield in December, the pair pulling well clear of the remainder. He holds solid claims on that evidence and is a confident selection to open his account in what appeals as a winnable race.
Ulverston opened his account at Uttoxeter in October, gaining compensation for losing the race in the stewards’ room when last seen over this course and distance, and he has bettered that form in defeat in his last two outings, finishing third in novices at this venue and at Doncaster. He is a likeable sort and another bold showing looks assured.
Scottish Accent is yet to open his account but is a largely consistent performer, finishing placed in each of his last three runs, and he is probably best not judged too harshly on his most recent outing, when third at Musselburgh, returning from an eight-week break in a warm race and facing competition for the lead. His best run to date came when wearing cheekpieces, so the reapplication of that headgear is a positive, and Scottish Accent is surely capable of winning from this sort of mark.
Eternally Yours was clearly ready to roll following a nine-month absence as she ran up to her best at Aintree in December, just losing out to one who proved very game on the day. That race has been franked several times since, making a 4 lb rise for Eternally Yours’ performance seem fair. Another bold showing should be forthcoming and Donald Whillans’s charge is certainly one for the shortlist.
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A winner in both bumper and hurdle disciplines, Orrisdale found improvement when runner-up in a Hereford handicap chase last month, running well having been stepped back down in trip and looking competitively handicapped, finding only a progressive sort too good but pulling nicely clear of the remainder. A 4 lb rise for that effort seems fair, and with the step back up in trip unlikely to be an issue, Orrisdale gets the vote to open his account over fences.
A fair ex-Irish hurdler, Grimm Star was having his first run for Dr Richard Newland’s yard when a good third in a handicap at Hereford last month, improving on his previous form despite making his effort earlier than ideal, moving stylishly into contention before fading entering the straight. He is capable of better still and seems sure to win races for his new connections.
A runner-up on all three starts in bumpers last term, Honda Fifty showed plenty of ability in maiden hurdles at the start of this season, hitting the frame at this venue and at Kelso. He failed to improve on those two efforts when making his handicap debut at Musselburgh earlier this month, but is probably worth another chance given how that race panned out, hampered at the fifth before making a mistake four out. He sets the standard on Timeform’s weight-adjusted ratings and looks the one to side with.
Cairnshill has fallen a long way in the weight over past 18 months, but he confirmed himself back in good heart when third at Ayr last month, shaping better than the distance beaten suggests, paying late on for trying to run the finish out of the winner, who has incidentally gone in again twice since. Cairnshill is clearly not the force of old, but he is undoubtedly well treated on the pick of his form and certainly features towards the top of the shortlist.
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