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The Harry Whittington stable was going through a quiet spell when DARGIANNINI suffered a short-priced reversal on his Aintree hurdle debut in December. He’s easily landed a bumper and novice hurdle here either side of that and should make it 3-3 at this venue. Away At Dawn can follow him home.
The principals are all pretty useful, at the least. It’s possible that RETURN TICKET will be able to dictate, so he’s taken to fend off Whoshotthesheriff and Heartbreak Kid.
The hat-trick seeking THE OGLE GOGLE MAN does rather stand out as a thriving sort in this line-up and he is taken to defy the handicapper again. These sort of ground conditions seem to bring the best out of Dubh Des Champs and he can chase Iain Jardine’s charge home.
Ben Brody is likely to give another good account, while the well-treated Falcon Sun (second choice) is also of interest returned to quicker ground after a break. However, point winner SIR SHOLOKHOV makes obvious appeal making a quick switch to handicap chases for a yard with a healthy strike-rate at this course.
In a race in which nothing arrives with compelling claims, it’s worth taking a chance that a four-month break has revitalised the Dan Skelton-trained FAIR MOUNTAIN as he’s very well treated on the form he showed in a Listed handicap last summer. Good Boy Bobby was only a remote fourth back hurdling last time, but is better than that and may chase the selection home.
Mark Walford’s WILLIAM OF ORANGE (NAP) didn’t look all out when back to winning ways at Catterick recently, so can overcome a 5lbs rise. Last week’s course and distance winner Gran Paradiso can give him most to do.
Tristan Davidson has his team in fine form, so a chance is taken on him reviving the fortunes of KEEP THE RIVER – who was placed off fully 15lbs higher last winter. Just A Sip (second choice) and Shanbally Rose are unexposed sorts, who may build on improved efforts last time. Meanwhile, Dan Skelton’s Mabela could also have a say if her latest poor run after a break can be put down to the ground being too soft.
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