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A big field but little depth and it should rest between the two previous hurdle winners. Pozo Emery remains with potential back at this trip and he’s a big player, but ES PERFECTO is preferred. Alan King’s six-year-old travelled very powerfully when fourth in a 3m handicap at Newbury last time and he may be able to deliver a stronger finish back at this shorter trip.
This may go to LANDOFSMILES. He is 0-17, but has knocked on the door a few times and this drying ground is probably a positive for him. Robin Of Sherwood is more than capable of winning another race like this and he’s second choice.
The Domino Effect posted a sound effort when second in a 3m Kempton handicap in November and his subsequent novice defeat can be excused, but one who might have more potential for improvement over this trip is KILBROOK.
He was placed on his first two hurdle starts and is another that can be forgiven his latest run. Point winner Lilith looked promising on her rules debut in November and is next on the list.
Paul Nicholls’ runner Stratagem remains unexposed and is respected, but this can go to ZAMBEZI FIX (NAP). Bernard Llewellyn’s six-year-old finished behind Le Cameleon in a heavy-ground course and distance contest in January, but posted a better performance and was nicely clear of Arian when second to a progressive rival here on his latest outing.
Vegas Blue will be very dangerous here if able to recapture the form she showed when winning in good style on her seasonal debut in October, however not much has gone to plan since and she’s difficult to weigh up at present.
Among the safer options is smart bumper performer FARNE, who was placed in a Wincanton novice last month and now makes her handicap debut. Coded Message disappointed last time, but her Christmas Kempton form reads well and she is second choice.
This may be low grade, but it’s sure competitive. DONT BE ROBIN, who stays beyond 3m, did well to win back at 2m last week and is effectively only 4lbs higher, so he’s the selection. Arizona Glory is feared most in his ongoing search for a breakthrough opportunity. Others to consider are Amlovi, Midnight Mustang and Cobra Commander.
Buck’s Boggle is an interesting newcomer and he needs a market check, but he’s taking on a couple of previous winners and he’ll need to be useful. Gold Bullion has more to come, however FIRESTEP won in spite of his errant course early in the straight at Southwell and he will hopefully prove more streetwise this time. He’s clearly got stacks of natural ability.
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