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Some interesting hurdling debutants on show, in particular Ahoy Senor, Jante Law and Lanty Slea. However, point winner GOLD CUP BAILLY showed more than enough on his hurdling debut at Punchestown to suggest he is capable of winning a race of this nature.
East Harlem was a distant second on his first start over hurdles, but should be sharper this time and could chase home the selection.
Quite a competitive handicap chase in which cases can be made for the well-treated Tonto’s Spirit, Gipsy Lee Rose, Orioninverness and Darius Des Sources. However, ZEE MAN has made a promising start to his chasing career and gets the nod.
Although he is a maiden after 24 starts, First Class Return is likely to be popular in the betting after his good second last time. However, he has had wind surgery since then and has cheekpieces and a tongue tie refitted, so he has a few questions to answer.
A better option may be PARK LANE DANCER, who shaped much better in handicap company last time and should improve for this slightly longer trip. Bertie Blake has been out of form, but hinted at better on his latest outing and may provide the biggest threat.
Having run with credit in a strong race last time, Touch Kick warrants consideration but the three who make most appeal are Dali Mail, Victory Echo and REIVERS LAD. Nicky Richards’ runner has clearly been difficult to train given his few racecourse appearances, but is talented and was still going well enough when leading and coming to grief at Haydock last time after another long absence. He is unexposed over fences and may well be good enough to take this. Dali Mail may give him most to do.
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Several of these are likely to show improvement for this step up in trip. They include Doyen Breed, Melanamix, Charm Offensive and BILLY RAY (NAP), and the last-named is particularly interesting after a much-improved display last time.
He is up 5lbs for finishing second but staying was his forte on the Flat, so this greater test of stamina is likely to suit. Melanamix may follow him home.
The Sandy Thompson-trained Sirwilliamwallace and Milvale warrant respect along with Kalaharry, but if UNCLE ALASTAIR returns in the same sort of form as when chasing home Vinndication on his debut over fences in 2018 he is going to prove difficult to beat. Milvale may be second best.
The consistent EVENT OF SIVOLA is taken to defy top weight back down in class and complete a Scottish double by following up his Musselburgh success. Second choice is Skyhill with Brian Hughes on board. Closely matched rivals Quick Pick and Slainte Mhor also figure highly in calculations.
This appears to be between Thurles winner WHERES MAUD GONE and interesting newcomer Condesa. The other runners have weak claims.
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