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A dual winning pointer, OMAR MARETTI made a successful debut over hurdles after 12 months off over this course and distance in February. He was shaken up entering the straight and tackled two out, but asserting well on the run-in. Improvement may well be forthcoming and this seven-year-old must feature highly on the shortlist.
A useful hurdler, WHOSHOTTHESHERRIF confirmed the promise of his chasing debut when getting off the mark over fences at Carlisle in November, always holding on. Although he hasn’t strictly built on that effort since, his third at Doncaster last time was a fair effort and he holds leading form claims.
A fairly useful winner on the Flat, STEPNEY CAUSEWAY didn’t offer much on his hurdling debut at Ascot in January. He pulled hard and not persevered with once held, but he should do better and is entitled to come on for that experience. He couldn’t really be in better hands either, so he is taken to show improved form and get off the mark for Dan Skelton’s yard.
ASK PADDY completed a four-timer when landing this race last year, three of them coming over this course and distance. He looks set to make a bold bid to retain his crown. Sam England’s charge has been improving a little by the run this season, finishing third here latest and he gets the vote to land this contest for the second successive year.
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FIRST MAN has been alternating between chasing and hurdling this season, but he has performed with plenty of credit in both spheres. He got back on song when winning a handicap hurdle at Huntingdon in November, before doing remarkably well to overcome a slither on landing when following up at Wincanton the following month. He shaped as if still in good form when third over fences at the latter named venue last time and is of plenty of interest now back hurdling.
RELKADAM capitalised on a drop in both the weights and grade when getting off the mark at this venue in December. He produced a career-best effort to double his tally at Wetherby last week, his impressive performance backed up by the timefigure. He holds obvious claims of following up under a penalty and should take plenty of beating.
MR CHUA didn’t finish out of the frame in either of his three starts over hurdles in 2019/20, and he has shown fair winning form on the Flat this autumn – notably when recording back-to-back successes at Chester and Lingfield in August and September. He is back hurdling now after a break and is well worth considering off a good mark.
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