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He was disappointing on his hurdle debut at Aintree in December, but Harry Whittington’s horses are in much better form now and DARGIANNINI looked to have a very bright future when bolting up on his first start in a bumper here in October.
Malpas would have won at Catterick in January but for falling at the final flight and, while a bit better could have been expected at Kelso last time, he’s the obvious danger.
Welsh trainer Evan Williams has an impressive 34% strike-rate here in the past five seasons and POBBLES BAY is taken to capitalise on a handy mark now back down in grade. Stablemate On Tour is also well handicapped, but was pulled up last time out in November.
A bigger threat is likely to come from the seven-year-old Who’s In The Box, who has thrived over fences this season. Rock On Fruity has an unreliable profile, but won this last year and has scored over hurdles on two of his last four starts.
This field is hard to approach with confidence and the market moves need a close look, including due to the presence of handicap newcomers. However, ESPOIR MORIVIERE looks the most likely option.
While Tomorrow’s Angel should be thereabouts, Lawney Hill’s handicap debutante Bunny Borus feared most and her stablemate Desert Retreat (the mount of Brian Hughes) is therefore also one to note.
Despite initial appearances perhaps, all in this small field need a close look. Mr Muldoon did well on his switch to chasing in the autumn and his trainer Dr Newland has a 31% strike-rate at Sedgefield in the last five seasons.
However, it is hard to ignore that this is INSTANT REPLAY‘s first race at Sedgefield this term when he’s been such a course specialist and has also now returned to his last winning mark.
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Evan Williams does very well here and VOODOO DOLL (NAP), who goes well fresh, gets the nod on this first start since a respectable seventh of 17 at Cheltenham in November. The return to Sedgefield could be the catalyst for a revival from River Frost and he is feared most, ahead of the unexposed Kala Noire for the in-form Sam Thomas.
The lightly raced six-year-old Unai was a promising third of 15 on last month’s chase debut at Warwick and is a strong candidate today, but preference is for OXWICH BAY who was unfortunate to bump into the highly progressive High Up In The Air when second of five at Plumpton on his latest chase start. The resurgent 12-year-old Twojayslad also has to be respected.
Handicap newcomer CRACKLE LYN ROSIE is well treated off a basement mark if she can tap back into the promise she showed in bumpers and she is the pick. Arctic Snow is another Evan Williams-trained contender to consider, along with Let’s Sway and Unique Company. However, Ragamuffin is feared most having displayed improved form at the end of last year.
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