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JAVA POINT stepped up on his previous efforts over hurdles when second in a novice handicap at Newbury earlier this month, putting in his best work at the finish to reduce the deficit just a neck. That form sets the standard here on Timeform’s weight-adjusted ratings, so he looks sure to mount a bold bid to belatedly get off the mark. The longer trip will likely to be in his favour given his strength at the finish last time.
STYLISH DANCER returned to form from out of the blue at Hereford six days ago, cruising clear in the straight to record her first win over hurdles since April 2018. She now makes her chasing debut from the same mark, so there is no doubt she is a well-handicapped horse. Meanwhile, her physique also gives every indication she will take well to chasing.
This looks a good opportunity for her to open her account over fences at the first attempt under Harry Skelton, who has an impressive 25% strike rate at Warwick in recent seasons.
GOLD CLERMONT showed improved form when filling the runner-up spot at Ayr earlier this month, rallying well after a mistake at the last to be beaten just a neck. The first two pulled well clear of the rest and the winner has since run well in defeat, so there is no doubt Gold Clermont is a horse to be positive about after only five starts over hurdles. He is fancied to defy a 7lbs rise in the weights to gain a deserved victory.
KING D’ARGENT has won both his completed starts over fences, including when making the most of a good opportunity at Southwell three weeks ago. He was allowed his own way out in front and had assumed command by the third last, easing clear in the straight to land the spoils by 27 lengths.
He’s suited by sharp tracks such as this, as he showed when making a successful chasing debut over this course and distance in December. A 10lbs hike in the weights for his latest win might not be enough to prevent him from going in again.
CLEMENTO rates an interesting contender on his debut for Fergal O’Brien after more than a year on the sidelines. He showed fair form at his best when trained by John Quinn, notably winning a couple of novice hurdles during the summer of 2018.
A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then, but there is no doubt he is a well-handicapped horse from a BHA mark of 111. He could be worth siding with in the hope that the switch of yards has revitalised him.
CAID DU BERLAIS is well into the veteran stage of his career, but he demonstrated that he still retains plenty of ability when making a successful reappearance at Wincanton earlier this month. He asserted on the approach to the last to win readily by 3-and-three-quarter lengths. A repeat of that form will make him very much the one to beat in this line-up.
BLAIRGOWRIE shaped well amidst inexperience when third on his debut over this course and distance in December, running green at various stages of the race before putting in some good late work to be beaten less than 7 lengths.
That form is superior to anything his nine rivals here have achieved, so Blairgowrie rates a confident selection to get off the mark at the second attempt – especially when you factor in his scope for further progress.
MEXICAN BOY appeals as a likely newcomer in a bumper where those with previous experience set just a modest standard. He is related to plenty of winners under Rules and represents the Olly Murphy yard which could hardly be in better form with nine winners in the last 14 days. It will be interesting to see whether the market speaks in his favour.
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